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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

the next stepping-stone

After yesterday's rather dark post, I more energetic and purposeful again, and had a new idea for how to press forward with The Mission. Yes, of course it's just more studying, shifting and arranging notes, but that's the nature of this beast. What I had was a sense of direction.

I liken it to crossing a wide stream via stepping-stones: you stand on a stone, unable to see which one to try next. But then you choose one, and take a step. You move toward the far bank. There is a (small, temporary) sense of exhilaration in the feeling of moving forward, of doing something. This next stone might be your last: this one might be the dead end from which you cannot find any more stones to step on. But for now, at this moment, you're getting closer to your goal, and that's all you can do.

In short , it felt good.

In the afternoon, when Kimmie got home from work at around 4:30 p.m., we went for a walk through the neighborhood. It was not a full-on power-walk, as we had been doing, since these sometimes cause her pain, but it was vigorous. Since we have just changed back to Standard Time, the sun was setting. Some trees were still clad with leaves, fiery orange in the horizontal rays of the sun. Other leaves lay in crisp heaps like corn flakes on the sidewalks. The air was chilly, and the masses of white cloud high above gave a sense of depth and vastness to the vault of mild clear blue. I felt a sense of peace and even joy.

The Earth is still beautiful. We can still act.

While Kimmie chatted excitedly about the big organizational change in her department at work, I looked at the silhouettes of the trees, and at the beauty of the city across the water, lights flaring in a smoky sun-tinged haze.

Enjoy this.

How good to be out in the fresh air--yes, even city air. How good to be walking, not one of those stressed people zooming by in their cars, their SUVs and pickup trucks, feeling anger and hatred for those who impede them. How foolish to take our world for granted.

The sixth great extinction on Earth, brought about not by volcanic eruption or asteroid impact, but by the ingenuity of one of its species, one that likes to congratulate itself on its own cleverness. What is the meaning of this? I wondered. Is it a cosmic tragedy, or a comedy?

We returned home. I took in our recycling box and bags, which our neighbor Allison had thoughtfully brought to our basement door, and got back to my reading. Kimmie went upstairs to her sewing-room, her favorite place in the universe. My zest for reading had returned. Keep on learning, I thought. Don't question this, just keeping moving forward. Do it.

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