Third quarter 2022 arrived, and as increasingly happens in life, did so before we knew it. While the Editress and I are not old—not yet—certainly more years are behind us than in front of us, and time together now seems ever more precious.
This year is a decade past events marking major milestones in my life. January 30, 0001 hours: the first cat to choose me, our dear G. Gordon Kitty, departed from our arms to join his brother TR at the New House. May 18: The Year in the Chair dedicated to a lifelong ambition to write fiction began. July 4: Mother, like Gordon, finished her race, ascending to life in Christ and to find my father after ten more years of missing him than they’d had together in this world.
The Editress, of course, was not always so designated. She had a distinguished thirty-year career designing, supporting and maintaining venues for the edification of the public through the appreciation of history, while mine has been largely spent in public service trying to keep the world running to the best effect at any given time.
Somehow we’ve traveled from being those kids who met very nearly forty years ago to an inseparable couple beginning to think about retirement planning, and we did so in what seems the space of a heartbeat, a yawn, and a blink. Now, on this plane of existence at least, there are more years to remember than to anticipate, and, as they are designed to do, the markers we pass increasingly motivate assessment.
Motivation and assessment are the engine and fuel of accomplishment; they feed each other in a process of living deliberately. An effortless life is stagnant, lacking one of the pillars of happiness. Those were defined elsewhere as something to do, something to love, and something for which to hope, and the premise has stuck with me. Standing back, doers may assess the worthiness of their own efforts, and observers may decide for themselves. “Worth It” is always a judgment call.
I’ve been accused of being intense by people who know me well enough for their opinions to register. The mile markers of my journey were made stark by losing Dad when I was ten, and the lesson that time seems to teach best—its being in limited allocation—settled in immediately. Goals, like assessments, arrive out of perspective. Both are defining and testify to who we are, for good or ill.
If one dares to so broadly characterize humanity, it seems there are two major divisions proceeding down the same road in entirely different fashions. One camp looks, decides, and proceeds, while the other observes, references, and considers before moving forward. In my observation at least, these respectively correlate with those who fail and those who succeed. Only the latter group is leveraging the benefits of a wider perspective by taking into account the experiences of others. They are the thinkers, the contemplative souls who consider first and act last and best. They are the readers, set separate and apart from those who are missing an essential advantage in connecting to the abyssal depths of the human experience. They are the scholars of natural law and the suitors of wisdom.
To say we presently are a polarized society is understatement, as it’s difficult to imagine the catalysts of conflict withstanding much more agitation before an unfortunate reaction occurs. Those playing with the chemistry set of social engineering would be well advised to set aside their dependence on shared delusion in favor of better attention to The Way Things Are … but then again history is offering something on the order of ten millennia of action and consequence they’ve been content to ignore for this long.
June—thankfully again past—in particular now offers an annual lesson on character and vapidity arising from choices proceeding from perspective, as if the news fails to delivers enough each day throughout the year. The month once known for the launch of natural marriage is now a showcase of reprobative thinking of unlimited diversity … largely because there have never been limits on the number of ways to do anything incorrectly. The consequences of perverse sexual hobbies arrive without calling ahead, and once they hit one wonders if the victims of poor decision-making then think their hijinks were worth it.
If I have a defining motivation throughout my catalog, it is in attempting to portray the essential differentiation continuing to shape the world around us. June put us past fifty-five thousand extant copies “in the wild,” which by any standard makes the effort that went into them “Worth It.” The current contest is between conservatism and radicalized self absorption, and while the immediate outcome is always uncertain, over the long term history favors those who take its lessons into account. Premise by premise, we remain in the fight, and every time a novel sells our prayers for the reader go with it.
I’m no prophet; I only pay attention. Prophecy is the gift of the Spirit. Wisdom is bestowed on those who live well enough to appreciate the edification of concepts such as faith, humility, service, and the benefits of loving connection to elements of the human experience that will survive us, and the soon-to-arrive Fourth is a time to remember all the history of people who felt just such dedication.
Their part is over, and ours continues. We arrive, proceed and depart. The world goes on in a different state than we experienced, but operating on the same set of fixed actualities and governed by the same laws of cause and effect that bounded the generations who produced us.
We’re seated at a table of bounty, able to reach back via our minds to the labors that spread the setting before us. Whether we appreciate those long years bringing the present from there to here defines us as cognizant or ignorant, alert or asleep, living or existing, spiritually alive or feeling our way through darkness complaining all the while.
Living, faith says, is worth enduring what happens along the way. There is no other way to develop character—nobility in the face of adversity, strength to endure, empathy for those that suffer, courage—than through undergoing difficulty. There is no mechanism for compassion to exist without the reality of suffering. Whether we find worth in the fleeting flourish and folly of living—in doing, loving, and hoping while gaining appreciation of strengths made perfect in weakness—has its dependencies. So much hinges on the seeds of character finding good ground in us and taking root rather than being crowded out by wind-sown seed giving rise to an invasive overgrowth of vice.
In short: find the peace of your soul in Christ, dear child of God, and then mind your mission. It’s my hope you then find life was worth it.
Have a safe and joyous Independence Day. Choose to love. -DA