Sunday Rambles

With all the LotSF stuff I’ve been doing the past few days, I had pretty much zero time to think of what I was going to write today. I mean, I spent the afternoon trying to come up with a suitable subject, and I did eventually settle on one that I like, but it’s a topic I want to invest a couple days’ worth of work into. So I shall save it for Wednesday’s post, and use this post to wrap up a few thoughts.

Firstly, I’m glad I did that LotSF chapter. I believe the story is an important one that I would like to continue telling, and it’s really good for me to have something like that to work on that I know I can really see progress with. I have lots of stories that I’m working hard on, but LotSF is special in that I am able to share it as I go along. It makes it feel more tangible, something I can say, “Look how much I’ve done,” and it’s great motivation to keep working hard and keep getting words on the page.

Secondly, I am so glad that spring finally seems to be arriving (knock on wood). This weekend was lovely, sunny and something resembling warmish, and it’s such a wonderful mood-booster. Despite spring signalling the start of the crazy stressful heartworm season at work, it also means that soon I’ll be able to spend more time outside without freezing my butt off. That means more LotSF inspiration and more opportunity to feel like myself.

Thirdly, I’ve been looking through old photos and drowning in happy nostalgia (more on that in my next post) and I am so grateful for the people I’ve met in my life. Especially my elementary school friends–people I’ve grown up with who are still so close to my heart. I’m very fortunate to know them and get to spend time with them, and it’s such an amazing thing to see them out there living their lives and figuring out what makes them happy.

And while I’m at it, I’m also grateful for people I’ve met through WordPress. I need to get a bit better at keeping in touch with all my digital friends, but I’m still so happy for the opportunity to have met them and gotten to know them. There are a few in particular who have influenced my life in all the best ways.

I dunno, I’m feeling so sappy tonight. I hope you guys had a good weekend.

Talk soon.

-Alex

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LotSF: Childhood Calling

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Author’s Note: as of April 1st, 2017, this chapter has been removed from the LotSF timeline.


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A sharp twig dug into my heel and I cringed, sidestepping off it quickly before I put my full weight on that foot. I stopped and rubbed my heel unhappily, glad it was my right foot this time and not my left. I’d already made the mistake of stepping on a rough patch of lichen that had pretty well chewed up the sole of my left foot. This early in the spring season, I hadn’t quite built up the leathery toughness I was used to on my feet.

I sighed. But it was nighttime, and I wasn’t supposed to walk with boots in the forest once the sun went down. That was what I’d learned back when I was a kid–you wear boots at night, you get bad luck. And at this point, I needed all the good luck I could get.

Ugh, but what a pain. I’d forgotten how many pointy things there were hiding on the forest floor, under the leaf cover. Twigs, lichen, stones, pinecones–sometimes bones, even. Lots to get hurt on.

“How did I do this as a kid?” I muttered under my breath, pushing a branch aside so I could keep following the path. Seriously, though–how had I managed to survive romping through the forest barefoot and armourless as a kid? How had I not gotten scratched to pieces, or broken any bones falling out of trees? I mean, I had a few scars from scraped knees and cut palms throughout the years, but I couldn’t remember complaining about sore feet back then. And I used to go wild, running and jumping and crawling all over the place.

A wave of nostalgia rolled over me, thick and irresistible, and I felt a twinge of longing for my younger years. The days when I could just climb up any tree, quick as a squirrel, and survey the forest like it was my kingdom. The days when I could fit in those little nest-like nooks that formed at the bases of the trees, where the roots curled and twisted over each other. The days when I didn’t run out of energy and I never felt so angry as I did nowadays.

Heck–I missed the days when I could understand the Small Folk. When I could see them.

It had been so long since I’d  been a part of that world. This winter had been so long and brutal… almost six months of darkness and deafness. Six months without seeing a gypsy sprite, or a trick-it, or a turn-up. Six months feeling like my tongue had forgotten how to speak because I couldn’t remember the language of magic that had brought me such joy.

The Small Folk magic had been a gift. I was blessed at birth with the ability to hear and see their world, to speak their language. I had grown up with it, learned from it, let it shape my life. And now I had lost it. I’d lost it because… of myself? Because of some psychological block in my mind that was preventing me from tapping into it?

The problem was I didn’t know how to get past that. I didn’t know what part of my mind was cutting me off from my magic and it was driving me insane. Long gone were the days of my childhood when I could believe in anything without thinking twice–when belief was a matter of the heart, and not the mind. I didn’t know how to tap into that youthful state of being. I didn’t know how to go back to the old me, the me that could use magic.

And now what was I doing? Wandering a dark forest with the owls and the fireflies, still looking for my horse even though I had no clue where she was. That strange forest women had told me to trust myself and that I would find my heart again, but what was that supposed to mean? Probably something that I wouldn’t be–

I stopped. Blinking and turning in a half-circle, I looked around me. Something about this particular place felt familiar, though I knew I hadn’t been here in a very long time. I searched my memory, searching for an experience that just barely escaped my grasp, and failed to remember why this place was significant to me. But it was, there was no denying that.

I kept walking, slower now, my eyes searching the darkness for any landmark that would remind me what this place was. I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out, but as I came over the crest of a small ridge, I saw something that caught my attention.

A tall, fat, gnarled old tree stood proudly just beyond the ridge. I didn’t recognize the tree exactly, I couldn’t even begin to recall its name or its history, but I knew at once that it was special. Because crawling up its sides, fastened on with rusty nails, was a ladder made of weathered planks. A ladder made by a child.

And it was calling to me.

***

I just got back from camping with my parents for the weekend, so of course I had to write some LotSF.

It was so good, to get into the forest for a little bit–especially since spring is in full swing over here. I actually went for a couple walks in the forest near my house (the one that inspired me at the beginning of LotSF) which was a bit of a nostalgic trip. I can’t believe I started writing this two years ago. Crazy.

Also, some LotSF news for you: I’ve created a Google Doc of part 1, Spring. It’s the same story, with all the pictures included and everything, but it’s put all together in order so that it will hopefully be easier to read for newcomers or for anyone who wants to read it again. It’s a work in progress right now, but I’ll link to it when I have it closer to being done (it’s taking foreveeeeer). I’m thinking of posting it elsewhere too, like maybe Wattpad, for those who don’t like Google Docs all that much (*coughcough*me*coughcough*). But yes, this is the news. You’ll be able to find the link here or on the LotSF about page.

Oh! Whoever’s been reading through all the LotSF chapters these past few days (yes, I can see you in my stats)–I don’t know who you are, but hey, thanks! If you’re new and catching up, welcome! If you’re a regular reader going through it again, well thank you very much. I’m quite honoured that you’re giving my story a read.

And also in my stats–I keep seeing that some of the views from my blog lately are referrals from Twitter. Are you the same person reading LotSF? (Who aaaaare yoooou?!) Anyways, welcome Twitter person! Thanks for clicking through and checking out my stuff. Much appreciation.

All right, all right, that’s enough from me. If you’re in Canada, happy Victoria Day! If you’re not, well, I hope you have a swell Monday. You shall hear from me soon.

Take care.

-Alex

Afraid to Let it End

Ever since I was little, I’ve had this terrible fear of things ending.

I remember no happier times than when I was running around at recess with my friends, pretending we were riding horses or that we were animals, or even those earliest days when I would play with the boys and we would pretend to fight great battles. I had this undying love for the stories we imagined and couldn’t wait till I could go back outside to keep playing. But the older I got, the more I dreaded the recess bell that would end our game. I began to fear that we’d never resume, that my friends would move on and I would never know what happened next.

And so when I got older and I started to realize that the very thing I feared was happening–my friends were losing interest in games of pretend–this growing feeling of loss and sadness filled my heart. I didn’t want it to end.

Similarly, I was struck with a sense of desperation when my family went on a Disney cruise when I was little. A Disney cruise is, of course, filled to the brim with magic, and I remember one night we went to a restaurant where the waiter showed me and my sister how to fold a napkin into some sort of cool origami shape. I was mystified, but I remember being upset as soon as the waiter left, because I already couldn’t remember how to fold the napkin. I never wanted to forget it. I didn’t want to lose that magic he’d given me.

(I’m sad to say I never did remember how to fold the napkin, but I guess if I really wanted to, I could Google it. How wonderful and awful the Internet is…)

Then fast forward a bit to when I met my new group of friends in grade seven. One of my most cherished memories with them is writing collaborative stories and roleplays, because it reminded me of the recess days when I would create fantastic stories from imagination. The writing was another thing I didn’t want to end, but alas, end it has.

And looking back on all of this, I still feel wistful. I have since learned to cope with endings, realizing that memory and nostalgia are powerful tools for capturing magic, but sometimes I still struggle with the idea of good things ending. (Which probably helps explain my sadness over The Hobbit conclusion…) And so sometimes I can’t help but feel a touch of emptiness when adventures end.

Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Ranger’s Apprentice–I was sad to see all those book series end and to realize that the world and the characters I’d fallen in love with were no longer going to be a part of my life. Brave Story, one of my absolute favourite books, was another painful ending, because not only did the adventure end, but the main character also started to forget it. How painful it was, how unbearable it was for my heart to comprehend that the character I loved so dearly was going to forget the incredible things he’d experienced and the amazing friends he’d made. That’s an ending I don’t like to think about. And maybe that’s why I reread it every year…

So I’m an endophobic, and also a writer. Which means that my fear of endings has also extended into my work. Some days, I regret killing the characters I have, or I dread the day I’ll write the last page of a particular adventure. Perhaps this is why so many authors write spinoffs and spinoffs of spinoffs. Perhaps they don’t want to leave the story they’ve written for so many years.

And maybe this is why there’s such a fear of death.

Death is the end, isn’t it? The end of all things, when we cease to exist in this world, we cease to see those we love and cease to write our story upon it. Maybe there’s something in the afterlife, but I think the fact that we don’t know for sure it terrifying. Will I be ready? Will I have written the story I wanted?

And will I be able to cope with not knowing what comes next?

Endings still scare me, and they will continue to do so likely for the rest of my life. I still have that part inside me that doesn’t ever want to let go or forget. But this is not entirely a bad thing, no. Because if I can remind myself that it will end, I can remind myself to enjoy it even more, to be fully alive and aware and commit it to memory as vividly as possible. I can remind myself that life is something to be enjoyed, that the adventure is something to be wholly felt, that friends are something to be appreciated.

Because if I should reach the end and discover that I am to forget the whole adventure, I want to at least know that it was worth it.

What scares you?

May you never fear the end, but live in this moment feeling wholly alive.

-Alex