“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”
— Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
I’ve had an unusual amount of time to just sit and think recently as Hurricane Isaac wailed outside our window and wouldn’t go away. I sat watching a crepe myrtle tree across the road turn into a furious whomping willow (as Kirby so perfectly put it) for hours, and it was kind of awe inspiring. Terrifying, but impressive. It definitely encouraged me to continue sitting inside our stuffy, but dry and not windy structure. So, I had plenty of time to look back at the last month and really do some soul searching about things. We’ve been through a lot recently. I’m not gonna lie. It’s been rough. Between a forced move, some nasty rumors, three weeks on the road, and then a hurricane…all in a period of a little over a month. Yeah, could have done without all that. But, in every cloud there is a silver lining and for every problem there is an opportunity to do something better. I could sit here and dwell on being lied about, and the exhaustion and frustration that comes from big moves and long work runs, or about being couped up in a house for three days with no hope of even going outside, or I can concentrate on the wonderful things that have come from one of the worst months I’ve seen in my 40 years. I made a quick push at this in my last post, but I think it deserves it’s own discussion. Thoughts are things.
Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. Choose well what you put in front of the mirror.
I’ve been told this my entire life, and my children have been raised to be mindful of their thoughts. I’m not saying to deny that bad things happen, but acknowledge them, then concentrate on what you can do to fix bad situations and look for the good in everything. While we would all be better off if people would make the effort to see it, your belief is not required for good to exist in the world. Because whether you believe it or not, it’s there. I’ve practiced this my entire life, and this month has been trying me. Finding the good in humanity and believing in it has been nearly impossible some days. I told myself to hold on anyway and in time, I would see what frustration, anger, hurt, exhaustion and fear were hiding. And sure enough, it did, and almost all of it amounted to normal people being exceptional human beings.
If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill
In late July, we heard a friend of ours was having a hard week, and we invited him to join us for our trip to Amarillo so he could get away for a few days under the auspices of needing to borrow his truck. We got back late Sunday, and about 15 minutes from the house, we learned that suddenly we needed to move yesterday. I’m not even going to go into that long story, but that friend who was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time stayed with us another two full weeks helping us get our feet back underneath us and providing unending moral and physical support (that poor man slugged boxes with us no less than three times in 10 days) to five battle worn and weary travelers who were having a hell of a time coming to grips with the storms that were whipping around them. He hauled us all over the country side from Dallas to New Orleans to Bentonville and then back to Dallas again. When our new ride ended up not getting a plane out to Dallas on time, he kindly let us stay in his house for another week while we waited to be able to fit all of our people into our cars again. For this, he asked for absolutely nothing. Thank you, Jim for being there and being one of my reasons to not give up on humanity. And thank you Cheryl and Thea for lending us your husband and dad for a few weeks. I honestly don’t know how we would have gotten through those few weeks without him.
In the same time period, our long lost Russian came to visit us in New Orleans, and he is always a joy to have around. Not having been involved as much this last year, this was his first exposure to the new ways we were running the business end of Airship Isabella. He has always been one of our organizers, and has a solid head on his shoulders about getting things done. His words of encouragement and no nonsense attitude were a validation and helped ease some of the harsher moments we faced. Thank you, Corey, for not letting us quit and firmly kicking us in the butt when it was necessary.
If falsehood, like truth, had but one face, we would be more on equal terms. For we would consider the contrary of what the liar said to be certain. But the opposite of truth has a hundred thousand faces and an infinite field. ~Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
When the rumor mill decided that our cups weren’t full enough, and ran all over the edges, I spent hours on the phone with people calling with questions, encouragement and concerns. Everyone was respectful and nice, but it was exhausting. Late in the evening, I got an unexpected phone call literally seconds after hanging up with a member of the community. I answered the phone, and the conversation that followed made being on the phone for hours that day, dealing with rumors and drama and general crap, suddenly seem utterly unimportant. Because it deals with someone else’s personal information, I won’t go into the details, but it reinforced in perhaps the solidest and most meaningful way for me, that being honest, being forgiving, and never giving up is the right decision regardless of how the other person reacts long after you have learned to accept the situation as it is not as you want it to be. It reminded me that you should continue to hope for better even if you have come to terms with things as they are. That one conversation was the kind of closure that I never even dared to dream of. Thank you, Ronnie, for showing me that there is always room for hope and pointing out a place in my mind that I didn’t dare to dream. I will flush them all out someday.
As our con circuit began, people came out of the wood work, some of them literally out for the first time since the very beginning of ASI, and were kind and supportive in some of the most respectful and amazing ways that I have ever seen. I was in awe of these people. For months I’ve watched bickering and fighting and just copious amounts of stupidity flow almost unhindered, but for one moment, I saw the community that we dreamed of actually take shape. I saw people, in the face of bad behavior, refuse to behave badly. I saw maturity and understanding of what it means to be a member of a diverse community that accepts all kinds of people that won’t always get along. I saw a supportive structure that allowed for personal lives outside of the small world we play in, and it wasn’t just with us. Thank all of you for showing me that the community, while flawed, is not without merit or hope. I’m sure this was always the case, but sometimes it gets really hard to see. Thank you for chasing away the fog.
“Life at any time can become difficult: life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life.”
Upon leaving San Japan, we went for the first time to our new Texas abode. I can’t say enough good things about this place. Not the least of which is that my brother is less than an hour away. I had the pleasure of having dinner with him and his wife for the first time in over a year. Then, just to cement the deal, we randomly ran into them at a small burger joint 120 miles from both our homes on the way to Geekfest three days later. Thank you, Connie, for sharing your space with a group of wayward steampunks in need of a sometimes home. With this, I am close to my brother and sister in law, have a country abode and don’t have to give up my city time either. It means more to me than you will ever know.
We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.
When we finally made it back to New Orleans, Hurricane Isaac decided to come visit too. One of the awful things that happened in the middle of awful things happening is that our roof on the New Orleans shop collapsed. They hadn’t finished fixing it by the time Isaac blew into town. Some of the New Orleans steampunks have been quietly working on the idea of opening a self sufficiency center/disaster shelter here in the city for a while now, and knowing the situation we were in, decided to open their shelter WAY ahead of schedule. We weathered the storm there safely and without major incident. Thank you, Willow and Xan, for reminding me to dare to jump forward with your dreams even if you don’t think you are ready. When the universe decides that its time for your dreams to become reality, it decides the timetable, not you. It’s your job to know an opportunity and need when you see it, and not be afraid to jump. The converse is also true. When things seem like they are moving too slowly, keep going, keep pushing and keep fighting. When the time is right, you will know. While I knew that, I think perhaps I had forgotten.
Finally, through this entire ordeal, through every day of chaos and destruction, has been our family, both biological and crew. You guys have been patient, supportive, and just plain wonderful. From offering us a place to stay for a few days, to updates and phone calls, to managing to keep us from loosing our heads or our minds (no small feat) and so many more small things that I can’t even begin to list them all. Thank you for being exactly who you are, as you are, and allowing me to do the same. In this world, that’s something that isn’t allowed for very often, and when it is, it’s something to be treasured.
Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.
Everyday of the last month has been challenging. Not one day went by that was easy. Not one day went by that I wasn’t shown again and again that people can be beautiful and wonderful creatures when they want to be, and that we can do all do far more than we think we can. The universe is change, and that’s not a bad thing. It simply is. Lord knows we’ve had to take that in large doses this month. You can fight it and become disillusioned or you can roll with it and see a new horizon. This is not to say that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself when you are being trod upon, but nothing is ever a promise. Nothing is ever guaranteed. All you can do is stay true to yourself, hold on to your dreams, keep your head up and move forward, even when you don’t believe you can. Your belief will catch up to you eventually.
I’m going to leave you with a poem that has hung in my home since I was 18 years old. I have read it about a gizillion times during every trying moment that I have ever had, and it has helped me find my strength over and over again even though I have a habit of misplacing it.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!