I am not pagan, though I have friends that are, and though there was a strain of belief in the village which, without having anything even vaguely to do with American/New Age/Paganism, was not… precisely Christian. Or anything much else. Call it “using natural forces that science hasn’t yet identified” and be done with it. It exists in every rural community. Communities close to the land that have no room for frills spend an unusual amount of time on manipulating these “forces.” Perhaps they are forces of the collective subconscious as things like “the Secret” claim.
At any rate, this is not to talk of religion, even unusual ones.
It is to talk of raising the power. Raising the power (Yes, I’ve watched pagan ceremonies. I watch a lot of things) is a fascinating concept, and it’s probably all headology, but one does feel something while watching it.
Again, I’m not pagan. I don’t propose to raise the power from the four corners of the world, or whatever. I also sometimes drive my pagan friends nuts by pointing out historical truths about some of the names they invoke (or heaven help us, call their children) and say “not near me. It might be all superstition and imagination, but history has a power, and not near me.” Having to explain to a friend that sacrifices to Tanit were NOT a Roman invention was kind of interesting. Everywhere the Carthaginians went there’s Topeths. And hundreds of little skeletons in clay jars. If those were only burials of malformed/premature children, the Carthaginians must have had a hell of a child mortality rate, unheard of in the rest of the world. And I am not a very good person (or at least very nice. I DO try to be good. With mixed success) but one thing I know and that’s that dead babies are an evil thing. Sort of the touchstone of my morality, such as it is, is that “You shall not hurt the helpless, the trusting, or those who have reason to expect good from you.”
Anyway, I don’t play with things I don’t fully understand, which is the same principle that leads my poor husband to be responsible for electrical and plumbing. I’ll do painting and carpentry because I GET those, but not electricity or plumbing.
But again, I like the concept of “Raising the power.”
So many of you, not just here, come and say something like “I’m trying to fight, I am, but I’m so tired. I’m just so tired.” And I get you, because I’m so tired too. Tired of politics, tired of the career that often seems like running on ice, tired of a million daily contretemps and problems.
To continue focusing on the difficulties, the problems, the areas that don’t make you happy, doesn’t help. It just drains you more, till you become angry and bitter. Trust me, I know.
Twenty years ago I was dying in a hospital bed. No, it wasn’t some woo woo stuff. It was pneumonia, but being intracellular pneumonia it took a while to diagnose and if my blood ox hadn’t been too low to read the hospital would have told me it was all in my head and sent me home.
However, everyone who was anyone told me I was going to die. (Except my husband who said “the hell you are.” And that’s why I’m here, because he wouldn’t give up, even when I had.)
At that moment, clearly, I found what my “center of power” was.
I was back then still unpublished. We had a house I was trying to fix/improve (as, when aren’t I?) and the boys were toddlers, and I had no help, let alone being eaten alive by stuff like clothes and shoes. Life was a continuous round of work, interrupted by the occasional rejection.
But in that hospital bed, I realized what I really missed. I missed going out garage-saling and thriftshopping with the three guys (my husband and sons.) I missed the cats. And I felt guilt and terrified that all my worlds I’d never written or never written well enough to be accepted were going to die with me. (My very first world still waits writing. I now know how to do it, but I need to clear the decks a little, first. It would be amusing if that is the one that hits, particularly since it’s weirder than any world has a right to be. And definitely ah– Post binary. Suffice to say it was my answer to The Left Hand of Darkness. Then it went crazier.)
And in that moment I found my power. I was going to live so there would be more of those moments with the guys. I was going to live so I could write, and write well enough to be published. (I wrote Darkship Thieves four years later. Yes, I do know when it came out. There are other, publishable novels I wrote in between that just need my going over and editing. Some I’d forgotten I wrote.)
My raising of power is almost always from my family — I’m soppy that way — and there are particular jewels I keep and bring out and relive fondly. Like the labor day when #2 son was three, and we discovered Lakeside. (For those of you not in Denver, Lakeside is a rather decrepit amusement park with an art noveau design, and a lot of outdated, still running pretty well rides. And a wooden rollercoaster.) Since I hate heights and falling, amusement parks are a bad idea for me. Except the door price at Lakeside is very low (I think it was free, but parking was $5) and you pay per ride. So Dan and the kids could sample everything from the wooden rollercoaster to the bumper boats, and I could walk around reading one of the mystery books I’d bought the day before at Murder By The Book, and then take the train ride around the park at the end. That first time there, we left the park at ten, as they were starting to turn off the lights, and went in search of a place to have dinner. The little one fell asleep against me, his head heavy and warm, as kids’ heads are. And we ended up finding PF Chang’s at the top of a high rise (everything else was closed) and eating there, looking at Denver lights. We lied to Marshall, too, and told him the duck was chicken, because he only ate chicken at the time.
I can close my eyes and bring it all back. And I feel better. If everything crashed tomorrow, I’d have had that one perfect weekend.
There are others, usually fleeting. My favorite is when I was very depressed and, out of nowhere, Dan said “I’m not going to work today” (we’re terrible people. We work on weekends) and took me off to City Park at sunset. We made three circuits of the park and harassed the ducks. And then we went out to eat — I THINK — at Ted’s Montana Grill, which has a little fountain outside, which we watched while we ate. (Well, Dan might have been watching the scantily clad girls walk by. It’s all good.)
Almost as good was the time two years ago, when older son was working near-full-time and odd hours and I was trying to rebuild a house, write (which was difficult as thyroid issues only allowed me to think of three words at a time) and make some sort of life in a space cramped with boxes. I don’t remember why but we had to go to the mailbox (which we had the foresight to get in Denver even though at the time we lived in the Springs.) Must have been a contract or check I was expecting. So we drove to the mailbox, and since it was an hour and a half away, while we were there (after getting whatever it was) we decided to go to the zoo. It was pouring rain, so we stopped at a walgreens and got umbrellas, and then we walked around the cold, rainy zoo, talking, having the zoo all to ourselves. Afterwards it was too late to drive home (we’d have hit right at rush hour) so we went to Pete’s kitchen and watched the rain stipple the windows while we had coffee and (against our diet, very much, but we only do this once every few months at most) we split a baklava.
Or there’s the time when we were so broke that Dan could only afford one gift for me for Christmas, and that was a little blown-glass owl, which still sits in my office, because it reminds me of how much trouble he went through to get it (having to drive to Manitou during work hours, while working unusually long hours) and how much thought he put into it.
If we let despair and turmoil overcome us, we deny that these good moments can happen, that there is beauty and happiness in the future.
Or we can think of and meditate on our “happy places” and our “centers of power” and raise the strength to dive back into the muck.
Once more into the breach, my friends, but let us keep in mind those things that make life worth living.
It’s all very well to pledge your life, your wealth, your sacred honor, but life must be worth living to be worth sacrificing.
Remember that. Raise the power. And fight on.