Another letter to myself

Dear Jester,

Is it okay that I keep writing letters to you, to myself, like this?  Yes.  I’m sure you’ll agree it is fine.  I should know.  I’m you and you’re me.

Anyway…

I’m not sure how to go about this, so we might as well dive into the crux of the matter: It is seeming harder and harder to keep up with the speed of life right now.  And that was really brought into focus by the death of a friend last week. 

You had seen them struggling and you had mentioned to yourself that you should reach out and then you didn’t and now they are gone.

And why didn’t you reach out?  Because you hadn’t seen him in 22 years?  Because you were busy with chores and school and toddler tantrums and infant sleep and birthdays and the day to day grind of life in the kingdom?  Because you didn’t know how much he was struggling?  Because you didn’t know…

You didn’t know.  You didn’t know you wouldn’t have another chance. 

If you had known, you would have sacrificed something else to make the time.  One less thing would have gotten clean.  Or a little bit less sleep would have been had.  You would have made a different choice.  But you didn’t know.  And, there is no way to know that reaching out would have helped.  Would have been worth doing anyway.

So, dear Jester, I’m not sure what the point of this letter is.  I was grasping for some sort of philosophical piece on the speed of life but the words on the page keep failing that, in my opinion.  Very unlike me, I have started, stopped, deleted, and started over this letter four times now.  And this will have to be good enough.  I don’t have the mental energy to attempt it again.

I guess, I just hope you can set aside any guilt you are feeling, we are feeling.  Be kind to yourself.  Grieve. 

And maybe next time reach out…  Because that pile of dishes can wait.  Sometimes, reaching out can’t wait.  And you don’t know what you don’t know.

Sincerely,

Matticus

Rhythm

This space, other than my letters to the princes, has been about fiction for so long, it feels weird to be writing about life in the kingdom.  So much has changed since I first started.  That was before the first prince had even shown up.  He was on the way, yes, but not yet here.  How can eight years feel like a lifetime ago?

I keep having this conversation with a colleague, about how time is always funny but pandemic time has been outright “hilarious.”  (For today’s post, hilarious = ridiculous.)  Blink once and the day is over.  Blink twice and you’ve lost a month.  Blink three times and suddenly time has slowed to the point where it feels like it might just be going backwards, and what a horror that would be…  Blink four times and the cycle repeats, except maybe they’ll be in a different order.  Or maybe it will be completely different because nothing is certain at the moment, not even the steady march of time.  It slips.  It slides.  It stops and sprints.  It does a jig and then stands against the wall to catch its breath.

–Side note: fellow author and blogger, Arthur, has a podcast where he delves into the mystery and inevitability of time. He has some great word play in the podcast that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve spent the last 14 months working from home.  It’s been an adventure.  I’ll likely be home for a few more months as well.  That information is just a tangent on how the normal rhythm of my days has been different during the pandemic and is definitely a factor on how weird time has felt.  And while you may ask how come I haven’t gotten into a new rhythm, a new routine, in those 14 months, my response would be laugh and gesture broadly towards my surroundings.

In the kingdom, the rhythm to every day is different.  Sometimes the rhythm of the morning is different from the afternoon.  Sometimes it changes suddenly.  Sometimes it changes so subtly that you don’t even notice until something goes wrong and you realize the song changed to a waltz and the cha-cha steps you were doing no longer make sense.  Not sure why I threw in a dance metaphor there.  It works though.  This has all been like a dance.

Some days are salsa: fast tempo, fun, quick steps.  Some days are waltz: slow, beautiful, smooth.  Some are the “high school hang:” I have no idea what I’m doing but gosh darn it I’m going to get out there and be seen anyway.

Not sure where I was headed when I started writing, but here we are.  Songs over, another is about to start.  I wonder what will come on next.  A swing?  Hustle?  Whatever it is, I’ll pick up the rhythm as best I can.

And you?  How has time felt for you during these 14 months?

round and round

Empty chairs at empty cubes and the memory of footsteps echo down the deserted hallways.  So few people now fill the large space that their presence seems more out of place than the absence of all who used to join them.  They are blemishes.  They are the joyous and guilt-ridden, having survived yet another round of layoffs.  There turn will come, though, and the weight of that knowledge hangs over them, growing heavier with each ticking second.  Tick.  Tock.  Tick.  Tock.  Tick.  Tock.  In this industry it is only a matter of when, not if, they too will be ushered to the door and sent looking elsewhere, for no other reason than it looks good on the balance sheet to have a smaller headcount and new employees are cheaper than the experienced ones.

So the revolving door goes.

Eventually the chairs and cubes will fill up again and the building will be bustling with activity.  Chatter, pings, squeaks, and the constant clacking of keys will add to the ambience of real steps passing through the corridors.  Then, in a reversal, the few stations that remain empty will stand out as the blemishes, as the reminders that this level of enterprise is only temporary and will be short-lived.  The enthusiasm of workers tackling new roles, sharing ideas, improving processes will flounder and stall.  Then the cubes will begin to empty again, sometimes in trickles and sometimes in floods of people being shown the door until once again only a few remain.

So the revolving door goes.

considerable worth

This is the conclusion of the little mini story running the last couple Mondays:

She found him and her face fluctuated from joy to sorrow and back again.  It was interesting in a place that contained infinite potential for happiness that she hadn’t enjoyed the wonders as much as she assumed she was supposed to.  But, it all seemed slightly less vibrant, duller and muted without him by her side.  She noticed that time was funny, though, and so she patiently waited for him to join her.

As their years had accumulated into numbers that spoke truly of the time they had spent together, he had told her about time and its imperfections.  He had shared his discovery of the moments where it would race forward and where it would drag along, and how he had managed his life to take advantage of those metronomic glitches.  In the depths of the sharing conversation she had expressed regret that he had lost such a treasure to be with her, but she could see in his eyes that he regretted nothing and for that she was grateful.

So, when she found herself in this new place and felt the time weighing differently against her, she knew what it was and what it meant.  And she knew if she remained calm it would slip forward for her until he found her.  But, just as they had met in the other world when she crashed into his car, it was she who found him again.  He was walking with a purpose, his head on a swivel and his eyes piercing everything they encountered.  She recognized him immediately and moved to intercept his path.

He was trying to see too much though and his gaze passed over her without stopping, and in the first moment of worry she’d had since her death she thought he would miss her and carryon forever.  She couldn’t let that happen.  She wouldn’t.  Racing forward she stepped into his path and their two essences collided.

While there was a sudden jolt, there was no pain or loss of footing.  There was only smiles and laughter and love.  So much love.  Love unending.

continuing worth

This is a continuation of the story started here and here:

The darkness parted and his eyes blinked against the onslaught of light.  The glimmering and shimmering ground, as though reflecting a sunrise, stretched towards the horizon in a moving landscape of beauty.  Everywhere he looked there was a friendly face or a testament, a monument, to the natural wonder of the world he had left behind.  It was shifting chaos, but he found that he didn’t mind.  It seemed right.  It seemed normal.

Almost immediately he felt the oddness of time.  It had the same qualities of the time he had left behind but it wasn’t as solid.  He looked for the markers of when it might slow or race and found, to his surprise, that every second, every moment that had the weight of a second, held the possibility for both.  He no longer had to wait for them to come; he could control them as he wished.

His eyes scanned the crowd again.  He was looking for her.  She was what he wanted, needed, to find more than any of the friends waving for his attention or any of the gorgeous sights vying to be explored.  When he didn’t see her immediately present, he grabbed ahold of time and slowed it down as much as he could.

He started forward, taking large, purposeful steps, and waded through the crowd.  The ripples of minor bumps and impacts spread through those he couldn’t avoid colliding with.  Their reactions were distorted by the change but he didn’t notice.  He had one focus and one intent.

There would be plenty of time for adventure and friends and everything else this new world held.  There would be plenty of time to explore and appreciate it all.  But first, he needed to find her.  Once they were together again then he would release his control and let the moments unfold as intended.  Once they were together he would happily live, if that’s what this was called, at whatever speed time had in store.

Until they were together though, he would keep it slow so he didn’t waste one moment unnecessarily without her.