Finding Joy

Roller CoastersI was pumped! Excited. I’d found my ‘writing rhythm’ again and the final 20 chapters of the #3 book in the Spidy trilogy seemed to compose themselves. I was happy with the plot, the ending, the characters–and felt good about where I’d left them in the tale. But it was after midnight, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and stumbled off to bed, putting off till morning the final adieu to my intrepid team of heroes–and dropped into sweet dreams.

You know how after a severe trauma or great loss, you bounce back unevenly, with ups and downs that resemble a roller-coaster? And you never know what small thing might trigger a sudden change in fortune, a Tsunami or an avalanche?

It was a bright and early sunny morning, with joy and peace settling into a routine—take the dog to the park for a walk, carry the trash up to the pickup spot on the main road, check the flowerbeds for armadillo damage, take the morning cup of chai on the porch to greet the day with Mom—you know, the simple daily chores that keep you grounded. But just when it felt I was getting my feet under me, the roller coaster reached the top of the crest and took its first dive.

There was no welcoming “tah-dah!” when I clicked the on-button to the computer. You know how you do silly things when electronics don’t work? You plug and unplug and re-plug them in, press the ON button over and again, tap all the keys, tap the screen, check the battery, clean the screen and keyboard, hoping it’s just mad at you for some silly slight and not on a permanent vacation. And then the roller coaster screams down the spiraling track, throwing you into abject terror and hanging on for dear life as you do a cold-boot to check the inner workings of the hard-drive. No-no-no-nonononononono Noooooo!

Somewhere between midnight and six, all by itself, without anyone there to hold its hand or weep over the letting go, my computer crashed and died.

Not only did it die, it had apparently been doing so since being dropped on its head in February after the funeral. Ordinarily that would simply mean a bit of teeth-gnashing, recalculating of finances and needs, followed by a bite-the-economic-bullet to purchase a new hard-drive, then re-load from the latest backup. But the latest OS upgrade back in September of last year had an apparent ‘kink’ in it (for a number of people–not just me), a ‘kink’ that consistently had claimed it was backing up to the new (brand name) external hard-drive each week—but really not…and hadn’t done since the upgrade. (I mean who ever opens up and checks the backup content on an external hard drive–especially if the files are listed, they show the latest backup entry date and appear to contain kb’s of data?)

Well, you probably do, but between the loss of a spouse, a funeral, the revamping of finances, loss of daily routines, name changes in titles and property, and tons of unexpected paperwork along with outdoor spring chores amid burgeoning flowerbeds, yard and trees…I did not. “And why should I have,” my contentious voice argued? “It has always worked before. Why would it not continue?”  The roller coaster chugs to the top of the next rise and the realization hits that the last 20 chapters I’d put to bed the night before electronic Armageddon–ready for a final edit and tweak before publishing, had disappeared down the rabbit hole in an instant. (My life-lesson for not joining a cloud backup program.)

The roller coaster screamed its way downward and tripped a chaos button—as almost everything electronic began to develop glitches, slowdowns, or exhibit bouts of non-cooperation. Phones, TV and email quit working. Texts and messages disappeared arrive, if at all.  Smoke alarm batteries failed and fell like lemmings off a cliff.  Alarm systems went off the grid, blaring or bleeping at odd times of the day and night for no reason. And the dog ran away thrice amidst all the confusion and noise.

Catching my breath after the second circlet of ups and downs, I stopped and got off…refused to participate in paranoia, resisted making note of it all, unplugged all but essential gizmos and turned to a zen-response by painting the exterior of the house and emptying closets for an estate sale.  Chop wood.  Carry Water.  And re-booted my soul.

When I could breathe again, I engaged a heroic Mac-doctor who spent three weeks in May and June persistently recovering bits and pieces of content spread all over creation from the implosion, 5 really-really-slow bytes at a time. He did manage to recover most of ten chapters, may God Bless him, though not much else of the last nine months of correspondence, ideas, plots for new books, research, outlines, contacts or cherished notes from friends–as the drive was too far gone.

As for the other electronics? Maybe it’s the summer heat, sunspots, brownouts or poltergeists. Who knows? But things are slowly righting themselves (except for the hardline phones, which appear to still be dying one electron at a time and need replacing), while the roller coaster glides quietly in to the home stretch…again. And there is forward progress: a spare car is sold, the house is half-painted, repaired landscaping is settling in its roots for the summer, the armadillo population is being reduced or relocated, the estate sale collection is taking shape and garnering price stickers…and small joys and gifts arrive each day in the form of sunrises, laughter, new friends, unexpected rain showers and the hymn of summer cicadas—all to remind me of “how deeply we are loved”.

So once again, with this blog as a new beginning, I am ‘letting go of expectations’, marshaling a fervor for writing, re-sorting the new outline for a re-write of the last 20 chapters to Stones of Fire, and starting all over again on #3 of The Entity Chronicles, Chasing Nyrlkas, with calm in my heart and seeking joy.    Blessings.

Cooper Hill


Finding Joy