Let me tell you about my disastrous December. One of my uncles died after a long, painful battle with cancer—the passing was a welcomed relief to him. Another uncle went to the hospital with sepsis following a surgery. A sister lost her apartment and had no place to go. My mother was scammed out of her entire life savings and was almost evicted. Obediently following Murphy’s Law, my car had a minor breakdown and my laundry machine burned out and filled the room with stinking smoke. (These mechanical troubles were certainly not emotional blows, but my bank account was already suffering after a month of disaster management.)
It never rains but it pours.
I’m sure we've all hit rough patches like that, where we wake up every morning wondering what fresh calamity awaits us that day. Eventually, I found myself becoming philosophical about the whole thing, and I took strength, as I often do, from literature and books.
This time around, I looked to Norse mythology. The Norse were a people who understood hard times, and they believed that even their gods were doomed to suffer and die. What’s more, their gods not only knew that they would eventually die but also the exact manner of their horrible, violent end. The carnage truly begins when Fenrir, the titanic wolf, appears in their hall to lead a pack of monsters to slay Thor, Odin, and all the rest.
|Emil Doepler [PD US Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
For all their pessimism about mortal existence in an uncaring universe, the ancient storytellers did not advocate giving up. Rather than waste time bemoaning their fate, the Norse gods prepare themselves by seeking loopholes in the prophecy, training to respond to the conflict, and enjoying what they had while they had it. Even though they knew they couldn't win, they were ready to fight hard.
My own troubled December was no Ragnarok—in fact, considering all the wonderful people I still have in my life, it doesn't even qualify as a dress rehearsal. The wolf has not yet come for me, but his distant howling still prompted me to question a few of my assumptions. I realized that many of my priorities had been a little out of whack. It made selecting a New Year’s resolution easy: I’m resolved to remember that if something doesn't help my family/friends, my fellow human beings, my health, or my writing, then it simply doesn't matter.
|By Seney Natural History Association (Female Gray Wolf) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
Of these priorities, my gut tells me that the writing is the thing I neglected too much during 2013. It wasn't because I procrastinated, but rather was because I failed to fight hard enough to do what I believe I was put here to do. In 2014, I’m going to take inspiration from the Norse and fight the good fight.
I can't change the rules of mortality, but it is my privilege to defy it, even if only for a short time. Therefore, when the wolf comes, I’ll be waiting to hit him on the nose with at least one new novel. That’s my resolution for this year.
Be good, and dream crazy dreams,