Making The Most of a New Day

Wren checked the clock and saw they’d overslept. Grumbling under the music playing from their phone, they heaved themselves upright and sat on the edge of their bed for a few luxurious mintues, mind blank as sleep slipped slowly away.

After their routine of exercise, stretching, coffee, showering, and breakfast, they slumped into a lounge on their deck and spent an hour planning their week. Meetings were maneuvered, appointments shifted, and plans confirmed as their second cup of coffee dwindled. Wren clambered off the chair after finishing, left the pool of lamplight on their deck, and went for a brisk walk through the woods.

It still felt wrong to hike in the dark, but they’d adjusted to wearing a headlamp and marked all their favorite paths with reflective trailmarkers. Their parents had gotten used to winters without snow eventually, so they figured it was just a matter of time.

After their hike, Wren settled down for lunch in their kitchen, absorbing the warmth and light of a sun lamp while eating. They could have taken vitamin suppliments, but they found comfort in the routine of basking.

After cleaning up, they settled into their office and put in a few hours of work, doing a few pages of roughs and working on some flats for their currnet graphic novel. The idea was about five years old, but it felt nice to draw sunlight. Nostalgic, even thought it had only been a few months since the Shutter project failed, cutting Earth off from sunlight permanently.

Since the shutters were all solar panels, humanity had plenty of power to turn the moon into a replacement. Days were 28 hours long now, after adjusting the moon’s orbit, but Wren always felt like they were built for days like this. Shame about the tides, though.

Descent Into Darkness

“Listen well, children, for I shall tell you of the world we lost and how this place came to be. Of what once was and may someday be again.

“The world was peaceful, once. A place of prosperity, light, and community, where anyone could reach out and connect with whomever they wished. Though conflict remained, it was small and often little more than jest. A brief disagreement blown out of proportion as a symbol of the bond between two brothers. Brothers born from a shared love rather than the same mother. Truly a time when the commonality between men mattered more than the weak bonds of blood and circumstance.

“Some decried this time of peace and love as nothing more than the death throes of a society brought down by its own complacency, and they may have been right, seeing how we now live in darkness and solitude, all that we once held dear lost to us as the great libraries of Alexandria were lost to the Ancients. So to, has much of our culture and what made us great been lost to us with nothing more than the elements to blame. And we, proud and once mighty, assumed ourselves safe from such trite things as a storm or the wind and rain.

“But no. We were proud and we were wrong. And now we pay the price of our hubris as we live out the rest of our days in darkness.”


“As the darkness descends ever deeper, we must-”

“Charlie, do you and the kids want cupcakes?”

“Mom! I’m trying to talk about the collapse of human civilization!”

“What? It’s just a power outage. Are you that upset you can’t play your games online?”

“This isn’t about that!

“Leave your cousins alone and go read a book.”


Fixing Points in the Darkness

I often wish that life had some kind of external meaning. I wish there were fixed points in existence that we could derive our purpose from, things we knew to be incontrovertibly true about why we are alive. Things we knew we would find as points with which to plot the course of our lives. A soul mate. A purpose. A reason. Things that, added up, told us the potential value of our lives.

It would make my life easier if I had those things. I wouldn’t spend so much time wondering, so much time groping about in the dark, if I knew where I was or what I was reaching for. I’d never worry that I was wasting my time on my current path because I’d know I was at least headed in the right direction. I’d know why I’m here.

But fixed points don’t exist. We have many points to pick from and we’re never sure where they are or if they’ll stay. The concept of “soul mate” might exist, but I doubt it exists in the form of a single person. Perhaps an incredibly strong rapport with one person in particular, but there are too many humans for it to be statistically likely for anyone to find their one particular soul mate during their short span alive. Plus, if souls truly are immortal, then you’re opening it up to all humans who ever existed and will ever exist. The likelihood of finding your one soul mate is so low as to be laughable. Yet that’s still a comment idea because people claim to have found theirs all the time. If it truly exists as it is often expressed, I think a soul mate is someone you build a relationship with and connect with, not some pre-determined person. Sure, you found someone and immediately felt a profound connection, but we only apply the term “soul mate” when the connection stays and the relationship works out. If you didn’t work at keeping the relationship strong, they wouldn’t be your soul mate.

That means it isn’t a fixed point. If you could form that strong of a bond with anyone (or almost anyone, since there are prerequisites to even trying to form that bond), then it isn’t so much as finding a fixed point in existence as it is fixing a point in existence. The same is true of “meaning” and “purpose.” You may feel particularly called to doing something and your life might have a very strong pattern or theme to it, but you always have to work at maintaining it. Saying you’ve found your meaning and then pointing to your life from then on as evidence of it being your meaning is a self-fulfilling prophesy. You found something that you decided was meaningful and then dedicated your life to it. Just because your life was full of it doesn’t change the fact that you picked it.

I struggle with this sometimes. Because of my affinity for writing, the joy I get from writing, and the dedication I feel to writing, it is very tempting to say that I was given meaning and purpose. The same is true of storytelling. I want to say something outside myself determined that I was to be a storyteller and finding ways to be a storyteller is just me trying to live the life that was set out for me. It is very easy to forget that I haven’t always felt this way. Before high school, I didn’t write much at all. I read a lot and enjoyed stories, but I didn’t write them. Writing began as a coping mechanism and giving myself meaning because of my writing was a part of that.

One of the “Obsessive” bits of my OCD is a preoccupation with self-destructive ideas. I’ve never acted on them, thankfully, but my OCD makes sure they’re pretty much always there. Back when I first started confronting the reality that these thoughts were here to stay, I decided that giving myself reasons to want to wake up tomorrow was going to make it easier to push past those thoughts if they ever went from what was, at that point, just a burble in the back of my mind. I picked a meaning and a purpose for myself and believed in it so firmly that now, over a decade later, I almost forget that I didn’t always believe my purpose was to write and tell stories. I almost forget that this was something I chose.

Fixing your points in existence is important. Not because they’re going to lead you somewhere, but because they can give you a sense of direction. You know where something is and you can always find your way back so long as you never let them go. Without them, you’re just drifting. Some people like to drift and that’s fine, but that becomes a fixed point of sorts as well. Your purpose is to drift and to exist.

Ultimately, I can’t really fault anyone for what they choose. Even the people who want to believe that something else gave them fixed points and a direction. I believe they’re fixing the points themselves and even adding a couple more as a result of their beliefs. Religion, philosophy, ethics… They can all become fixed points if you want. I think some of those things are best left at least moderately adjustable.

This metaphor is getting away from me a bit and is probably a step or two further into the “mumbo-jumbo” department than I like to go, but I really think it is important to find our own meaning, our own purpose, and whatever else we want to fix in our lives. More fixed points isn’t necessarily better, but more points definitely helps you feel like you’ve got a direction to head in. Right now, all I’ve really got is my writing. The use of words and the goal for which I use them. These are my fixed points in existence and every decision on what to do and where to go is based around them in some way or another.

I’d like some more, but that’s not something I’m willing to just do haphazardly. It takes time and a lot of work to fix a point. It takes a lot less to lose one. Trusting my instincts and understanding myself used to be my two strongest fixed points, but I’ve lost track of them. I think I’m working on getting them back, but its hard to tell sometimes. At least I know I’m making progress, even if it does feel incredibly slow.


My dreams are a dark unknown abyss
That always deny me restful bliss
As I try to sleep and only miss
Each and every attempt to end this
String of nights forever gone amiss.

My dreams often lose their frightful sheen
When they are so few and far between
I forget the horror I have seen
And eagerly await the next scene
Of whatever story I am keen
To introduce into my routine.

My dreams aren’t sweet, ephemeral things
Tied to secret hopes by hidden strings
But scaly monsters replete with wings
Moving in silence so loud it rings.

My dreams have no blood and guts and gore,
They have something even worse in store
As I toil through my nightly chore
Of knocking on the dark, horrid doors
Of my mind to find what it fears more
Than any monster to wash ashore.

Moments of Quiet

It is these moments of quiet,
As my brain creeps toward sleep,
That keep me up at night.

The time before is calm and soft:
Full of lingering traces of all
I have accomplished that day
And everything I desire to do
When I wake on a brand new day.

The time after is strange and quick:
Full of half dreams lost to me
As soon as their story has ended
And small movements that feel fast
As my body begins to slumber.

During, though, there is only silence.
I am left with the darkness of my room
Mirroring a darkness inside of me
I can only manage to drive away
With things that would keep me from sleeping.

During these moments of quiet,
I am the captive audience of my fears
And every single thing that went wrong
During any day I can remember
Plus a few more I had once forgotten.

It is no wonder I do not sleep well
When I cannot bypass these moments
Without crashing from awake to asleep.