Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Letting Go

Hello to my loyal and patient handful of readers. On the writing front, the novel Of Questionable Veracity is almost ready to start gathering rejection letters. Kat's made a huge editorial pass, and a loyal circle of readers have made other contributions about the plot, tone, characterization and so forth. Everyone has been tremendously supportive.

*waves to his friends*

I'm terrified anyway, of course. Particularly because the story arc stands incomplete: I have rough drafts for two sequels awaiting similar editing, but I need one final book to finish the whole thing. I know how it all needs to wrap up, but not having the draft in hand makes me so very nervous.

*deep breath*

With all that fear, I'm doing what any reasonable person would do in the 21st century: I'm blogging about something else.

As previously discussed, I'm agnostic. Once upon a time though, I was Catholic. I went to a school with real live nuns from 5th to 8th grade. I was an altar boy too, one of only two in the church. Rang the big bell, carried the big cross up in the procession. Got to swing the incense. How I left is a story for another day, I suppose. At the rate I update this blog, 'never' is a distinct possibility. ;)

What's on my mind today was a story that I heard there, though. I apologize for not having all the details, as this was over twenty years ago:

Once upon a time, there was a man who loved Texas. It was his home all his life. He had a ranch and cattle, and really? Nobody could blame him. Upon his deathbed, all he asked for was to have a handful of soil from his ranch to take with him, wherever he was headed. His family obliged.

When he died, he found himself at the Pearly Gates, facing Saint Peter. Peter told him that he'd been a good man: gone to church, done right by his family and neighbors. He hadn't lied in any terrible way, he hadn't stolen anything. Peter said that all he had to do to step into Heaven was to let go of the handful of soil in his hand, as nothing of Earth could be taken inside.

The man said that it couldn't truly be paradise without a piece of home, and politely refused. He had a seat on the cloud outside, and... time passed. Eventually, his children lived and died, and they passed on to Heaven too. His daughter took a moment at the gate to plead with him to come with her, but he refused.

And so the man sat, forgotten and alone. He would've stayed that way forever, but one day, his hand slipped. The soil fell from his fingertips. He looked down in shock, and Peter swept him into Heaven.

Inside, the man found Texas, just as he'd left it. I forget if the storyteller mentioned him crying or not, but I imagine he probably did.


As linked to above, I don't believe in Heaven. I'm not concerned about all of that in the least. I like the message here, though: holding onto something that's broken can keep you from finding it again.

This has been on my mind because I lost a friend about three weeks ago. We'd known each other ten years. Been through thick and thin. But the past couple years were very bad, and I knew we couldn't be in touch forever. I stayed as long as I could stand anyway. Held on for dear life, like I do sometimes.

It only made stuff worse. Walking away has been good enough that I almost feel guilty. Despite our differences, I hope that my former friend feels the same.

Just wanted to share that, in case anyone else has a burden that they're not sure how to handle.