It’s not unusual for me to post three Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories a week on the Eighty-one Facebook page. It was telling, when a friend texted me, “Just checking in. You’ve been silent.” By silent, they meant “no stories.”
Nine days since my last Bedtime Story. That’s a gap, by my standards. I texted back, “Either Laura got me again, or I didn’t finish with Laura on the first go round.”
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Hurricane Laura was a heart breaker, mess maker, life changer. Laura wasn’t a war, by war standards, but she was a battle, by battle standards.
I don’t know the psychology, but I am living the psychology. In the soon after, of Laura, the writing came easy. It was therapy for me. I’d write, people would respond, “You’re reading my mind!” I felt useful, giving people words, who might not be the wordy type. Giving people encouragement, that they were not alone, that it was perfectly reasonable to be mad, or sad, or near to give-up.
I’d write, and I’d feel good, and they’d read, and they’d feel better.
Time goes on, everything seems better, so why, out of the blue, do I feel this great heaviness, all these months later? Is this normal? Is this some sort of PTSD? Did I try to cheat Laura out of her full get-me?
– Change –
Last two stories I wrote were titled “Jobs” but they really were about change. I’d seen this Elon Musk interview, about self-driving vehicles, automation, which hit some old scars.
When I was twenty-something, change was my friend. It was like catching a wave, just release into it, and let it provide the force. It’s embarrassing to throw out these obsolete milestones, but I’ll do it anyway, to make a point. I’m the first person in the family with an answering machine, a PC, even taught myself how to program. All this working from home stuff, that people got serious about in 2020: I was doing that in the 1980’s.
Fast forward to the 2000’s. I’m the last guy to have a cellphone. I went years without a TV. Instead of making a living on the cutting edge, I went the other way, not just to antiques, but to primitive antiques. Instead of writing custom software, I built custom furniture out of old wood.
It’s like two different people, but one me.
That first me, the young me, he found out the power of change. I found myself in a technological gerbil wheel. Year after year, having to learn/relearn the newest, latest best thing, so many times! I realized that whatever I was about to learn was already obsolete!
Technology cycles are so fast, that not only could I never master, but I couldn’t keep up! And frankly, I didn’t want to!
Change was not my friend. It was a torment. Technology was like a road trip where you left somewhere, but never arrived anywhere. It was a hotel life, but as a career, it had no home to it.
What’s this have to do with Hurricane Laura and a gap in stories…?
Writing about future stuff, where technology is going to roll through society, benefitting some, inconveniencing some, harming others, must have triggered some ole war wounds within me. And with that going on, I then spent my days fighting tangible, visual, in-my-face change, Hurricane Laura damage.
Change, by nature.
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Hurricane Laura is a physical manifestation of change. She didn’t care. She didn’t punch hard on those who could take it, and pull the punch for the weaker. She was careless fast. From breeze to 150 mph and back to breeze, in just hours. Laura didn’t even have the decency to look back, and give shame a chance to register on her conscience.
We people, we huff and puff, like we’ve got some control, but it doesn’t take much to shrink us back to our truth. I want what we all want, some order, some predictability. We’ll accept the random bad, as long as it’s not all at once bad. We expect nature to keep track of things, like who’s had a bad funeral, and then give them a few years to heal, before you grieve them again.
But when nature does a Hurricane Laura, she is careless, even cruel, and not only does she change our scenery, she changes our very trust, in nature, and specifically our trust in Home.
– Foundation –
The other day was bad. Low clouds, heavy heart, hours and hours of meaningless menial labor, forced upon me by a hurricane that came ‘n went. That little voice in my head, I couldn’t shut it up.
Came home, tried to write. Not only no fuel, but not even a fume.
I’m coming back up, as evidenced by at least being able to compose this story.
The thing I didn’t know about myself, back when I was chasing technology, was that I was wired for foundation things, not cutting-edge things.
I find it easier to accept change in life when I am confident that some things don’t change. I want “all this” to have a God behind it. If Amazon can make a drone deliver a box to my home, that’s small potatoes, compared to life having meaning, a purpose, some master plan…
Let Elon Musk make a bazillion dollars inventing evolving technology; I am wired to seek out the truths that don’t change. I want to think about, write about, things like truth, hope, resilience, made-in-His-image, love, connection, right ‘n wrong, fairness, decency, compassion…
When I am in my best place, doing my best work, I feel my feet standing on holy ground. It may be boring, by change standards, but I thrive on foundation.
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This edition of Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories is dedicated to those who feel adrift in churning water. May you find your grab. You ain’t the only one reaching.
To order Volume I or II of Bedtime Stories, email Uncle P at email@example.com. Other stories can be found on the Eighty-one Facebook page.