Right Now

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She was there, in my head, without warning.

“Do you remember Lost Legacy Elsewhen*?”she said, her voice not quite my thoughts.

“I’ve never had a legacy. Trust you me, I’d know if I did.”

“No, Heinlein’s story.  The first book you bought in the US.  Remember?  Professor Huxley the professor sent himself back in time into his own mind. And lived his life differently.”

“Okay, now I’m suspicious.  You’re not the first sudden voice in my head, you know?  I keep getting that all the time. A Few Good Men, for instance.  There I was sitting on the… sitting, anyway, and suddenly there’s a voice in my head, and it’s Luce, and I have to write him.  Characters aren’t real, and you sound like a character to me.”

“I am a character,” she said.  “Because you are one too.  Cartoon character.  If someone gets turpentine near you, you’re a gonner.”

“Insults will really convince me you’re me.”

“Why not?  You insult yourself all the time.”

“Point.  Okay, so you’re my future self.  Are you going to tell me you ended up in jail and meditated yourself back to this time to warn me?”

“No.  I’m going to tell you I ended up in nothing much.  Death bed has an awful way of concentrating the mind.  I’m going to tell you you frittered away your life in the moment, and never did much.  Some people will remember Darkship Thieves a few years.  But not long because Baen no longer prints it, and you haven’t got your rights back.  The rest?  Fritt and flutter.  You never wrote the things you had in you.  You never finished series.  There was always something.

“I see you don’t answer, because there is no answer.  Besides, it seemed like a good thing at the time.”

“I don’t answer because you’re imaginary.  I don’t actually have to talk to symptoms of a dissociative episode.”

“Ah, but is it that?  Or is it real?  What if I came back today, to tell you you know very well what you need to do.  You know those books you’ve meant for indie, and never published.  You have at least ten of them needing only two days of work each before editing.  And your kids… well…  Let’s say if you’d been more yourself, they wouldn’t have–”

“Wouldn’t have what?  What happened to the boys in the future?”

“You don’t need to know.  You’ll know soon enough.  Unless you change.  Unless you do what you have to do.”

“You’re not helping.”

“I don’t need to.  Pretend you just came back from the future, to avert a terrible fate.  You know exactly what you need to do and where you’re falling down, don’t you?  You can see as well as anyone else, where your bad current habits lead, can’t you?

“Does it matter if I’m real?  You know what to do and what to avert.”

And so do all of you.  Right now, right this minute.  They say that this is the first day of the rest of your life.  And it’s true and stupid like saying we’re all naked under our clothes.

But it’s also true.

Pretend your future self just came back into your head.  It can’t tell you what happened, or how bad it was.  And it can’t give you instructions.

But you know precisely what to do to save yourself, or to improve the outcome of your efforts.  You know.

And so do I.

*I should have checked on it.  I had the wrong story/wrong character.  To be fair, they were both in Assignment in Eternity and it was early morning.  But I should have checked.

97 responses to “Right Now

  1. okay, fine, I’ll get another 500 words on the story written, and then go to the gym. Darnit. I WANT to surf the internet instead! IT’s easier than getting the words to come!

    …yes, I’m stalling by commenting. I know. Fine!

    • 899 words done. I am going to go back and write one more line, or find a place to clarify with one more word, because that number is just itching at me. Arrgh!

      But, victory declared! The husband actually ate riced cauliflower stir fry with teriyaki flounder without making pointed comments about the need for rice! Happy dance!

      I *heart* the gluten-free fad. Low carb is getting easier to do, every year. And microwaving a steamable pack of riced cauli and veggies is far, far easier than doing all the chopping by hand! …Although now I wonder how the extra demand for caulifower is changing the farming. If the ethanol subsidies for corn were ended, then along with the shift to non-HFCS sweeteners, that’ll be a drastic change to the farming economics…

      • Microwaved riced cauliflower…so easy. Close enough to rice, or run it through it blender and it’s close enough to mashed potatoes. Yum.

        • Dorothy Grant

          I can never get the texture right enough to think of it as mashed potatoes; it always reminds me of mashed turnips. Which are… okay… but they’re not mashed potatoes.

  2. Very compelling Sarah! Great work.

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Ah Sarah, “Lost Legacy” isn’t the story with the Professor “going back in time to change his life.

    That’s “Elsewhen”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsewhen

    “Lost Legacy” is his “Humans regaining their “Lost” psychic abilities story. [Nervous Smile]

    • Purist!
      Yeah, Drak’s right, but Lost Legacy certainly fits the tone of this post most accurately.
      And my little Portagee, you do have this knack for getting inside our heads and tweaking our innermost issues. You evil Space Queen you.

  4. I don’t know if it was my future self, but just this morning I had an Aha! moment that showed me I have been lax in implementing Peterson’s Rule 6. Landlord’s snowblower wouldn’t engage the auger, and I, being somewhat mechanically declined, was asked to look into the matter. Turns out there is a big slug of ice left over from the last use frozen in the throat. Picked out what I could with a dandelion spade, but a part of the jam just wouldn’t come out. Went looking for my hair dryer to put some heat on the subject (neither landlord nor other tenant requiring hairdryers 🙂 ) and it took me more time than it should to find the d***ed thing . . .

    • never used a hair dryer
      But I do have an elcheapo heat gun. works great for such like your need.
      Don’t use one as a hair dryer, or you could look like me at best.
      Freddy Kruger at worst

      • Had an actual heat gun at one time; it seems to have disappeared in one of my moves. Guess I need to get up tp Harbor Freight one of these days when they’re having a liquidation sale. Still, the hair dryer worked. Everything’s running to spec. now.

        • I managed to not misplace mine in the moves, but right now, I can’t say exactly where it is. last use was shrinking the window coverings last winter, not this one.
          Needed the Snow Blower I thought about putting away and if it was iced I could always aim my torpedo heater at it and burn a touch of diesel to thaw the works.

  5. An Idea to solidify. A world to get analyse and get orderly enough I can actually word in it. And a lot of little things to get done. *kicks the ‘you’re going to get this wrong’ fairy in the behind.* Who let my inner critic talk to my inner consistency nut?

    Thanks Sarah. It’s a slow day at the day job, so I can get some stuff done.

  6. I’ve never listened to myself before, why do you think I’m going to start now?

    Okay, okay, fine. I’ll go work on the outline for my next work rather than surfing the internet while my code runs.

    At least I will as soon as I find out what’s going on at MGC…

  7. The title for this post immediately brought to mind a Van Halen song:

  8. Well conceived.  Beautifully written.  

    But … Sigh!

    [HUGS!}

  9. To Our Esteemed Hostess:

    Hind sight, even that in our imagination, tends to out play foresight.  

    A friend taught me that it is a waste of time to dwelling upon worry because we can think of far more scenarios that can ever possibly happen.  And, on top of it, you may not even manage to figure out what actually will happen.  (With an imagination such as yours you can probably come up with a ‘normal’ list of scenarios multiplied exponentially.)  Worry is costly, in the wear and tear on emotions and the time it swallows.  

    Work from your strengths.  You know have got books that are nearly finished. 1) Choose one.  2) Set aside time each day.  3) Get it done.  4) Repeat.

  10. Need to get back to writing. Been dragging my butt for the past month and a bit. Was so avoiding it I ended up installing Linux on the computer to “assist” me…. Right, where was I again?

  11. Today is also the last day of our lives up to now.

    Imagine there’s no future,
    Imagine there’s no past,
    It’s easy if you’ve got
    Your head shoved up your …

  12. “Honey, who was that at the door?”
    “Some scruffy weirdo nut with a beard, and a young woman with two babies. Stammered something about, ‘Sorry, wrong house’, and turned around and left.”
    “Well, it sounds like they just stole your truck.”
    “Ahhh! Call 911!”

  13. Pingback: Right Now — According To Hoyt | Scratches on a Page

  14. I have some chores to do while weather permits, before the final round of eye surgery. (Retina work on the other eye.) I’ll be on light duty for a couple of weeks, so the heavy stuff has to be done while I can. Pine needles and filling water barrels, oh my!

    • Garden water barrels filled, three loads of pine needles over to the burn piles (probably in May), propane tanks checked, and my lungs are not happy with me*. $SPOUSE did three loads of pine cones; we fell way behind last year and this was a bumper crop year.

      I got the DVD-on-Linux issues sorted out, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy to watch. I think I’ll not be reading much right away (glasses and eyepatch won’t mix–I’ve tried).

      (*)That cold was a bastard, and the pneumonia vaccine reaction that came along with it did no favors to my lungs.

  15. Time travel is the procrastinator’s dream…………..

  16. Damn, that’s inspiring.

  17. Wow. Sucker punch to the gut there.

  18. OK, OK, I’ll grade the papers, then blog, then start on the cover and edits I need to do.

    Ow, I really didn’t want to read that, Sarah. Needed too, prob— OK, yes, needed to, but didn’t want to.

    • Papers graded – check. Blog done – check. Cover done….. cover done…. cover done – check! [new version of Filter Forge acquired, images acquired, Gimp updated, FF re-loaded, filters found, image tweaked, trimmed, painted, and cover-ized]

  19. I loved both Lost Legacy and Elsewhen. I don’t know what’s the most disappointment about the two stories: that they’re just wishful thinking, or that kids today, if they ever read them, would think they’re real.

  20. Carrington Dixon

    You never finished series.

    You are in good company. Neither did Asimov, Heinlein, Doc Smith, Burroughs, etc. About the only authors not tarred with this brush are those that wrote only stand-alone stories.

  21. On the other hand, if you misremembered, it’s plausible characterization that your future self would misremember too. Even if you’ve now been reminded, she might have forgotten it by then, or been distracted.

    Kate Bush’s song “Jig of Life” (http://www.metrolyrics.com/jig-of-life-lyrics-kate-bush.html has the lyrics) is an intense treatment of a similar theme.

  22. Love the art work. Story is good, too.

  23. Sarah, you need a reward machine. Full of chocolates. Type words, get a chocolate. More words, more chocolate. 🙂

  24. Carb free chocolates. She has enough problems with her immune system beating her up.

  25. Okay– mine would actually show me all the things I did. I’d be the one saying that most of the time I frittered. *sigh I am frittering right now.

  26. So Marshall is going to get caught while trying to break into the Hill Valley clock tower? GREAT SCOTT!!!

  27. Bulls-eye again. You have the most uncanny habit of writing exactly what I most need to be reminded of.

  28. Dan Hamilton

    You say “frittering away” as if it is a BAD thing.
    Many of us know that great things have passed us by. Marriage, children, etc. We see a quiet, wholesome and pleasant life ahead of us. Why should we stress ourselves trying to accomplish things that will not make a real difference. Sarah has books to write that will influence many people, children that could accomplish much with her help. Me? I will continue programming until I’m 70 then retire to my 10 acres, have as much fun as I can, read Sarah’s books and many others. Try and live a good life.
    I hope it will be peaceful, If the Progressives let it. If not it will be shorter.

    • Nothing wrong with frittering away. I happen to like fritters.

    • No, I understand precisely what she’s saying. It gets easier and easier to putter around and do nothing. Accomplish nothing. Achieve nothing.

      But some of us don’t dream of a quiet retirement. We dream of greatness. Of carving our names into the rock of history, even if it’s in very fine print. And you don’t get to do that puttering around.

      • Age is just a number. How many of us would love to be famous and wealthy, and hopefully healthy enough to do whatever we like doing at age 70 like GRRM? (Not that I agree with him on a number of things; but he can afford to be a curmudgeon if he wants to.)

  29. Ouch! Stayed up late reading last night, so only halfway through the coffee. But, OUCH! Getting to work, now…

    • I practically gave up reading for years to avoid that problem. Then Netflix came along and binge watching a series became just as much of a problem. So, why not read?

  30. In lieu of your future self whispering in your ear, perhaps you need a reminder sitting on your monitor, or standing on the shelve above you, looking down expectantly. A mentor to monitor your progress – and maybe provide a bit of a guilt trip when you wander off topic?

  31. On that note, I just finished Darkship Renegades. (Remember that “no bookstore within 15 miles, and that’s a B&N?” I go to the bookstore when I visit the in-laws, 500 miles away.)

  32. Christopher M. Chupik

    And now for something completely different . . .

    Well done, Sarah. 🙂

  33. Another excellent Jordan Peterson insight. Or, better said: reminder. But I find your story version more compelling.