It shouldn’t surprise me that the things I obsess over show up in my writing. As a person who admittedly focuses in on things quite often, this gives me a rich variety of topics to consider. Lately, it’s questions of mortality – what do we value? How do we spend our time? How might that be different in the future?
COVID can take some of the responsibility for this potentially grim introspection. A pandemic that has sickened millions serves as a silent but powerful reminder that health and life are gifts – not givens. But for me personally, I think the greater share of the reason for the obsession over death and time must be related to the simple fact that we have entered (relatively recently) a new year. Not long ago, 2021 had the air of a time somewhere in the abstract future. 2020 and 2000 before it were semi-mystical barriers – round and unusual numbers beyond which everything would somehow be different. And yet, we have reached and passed each marker, just as we do with every new year, to find that in fact, life is not so different beyond it.
In the meantime, I get older – one year at a time. Possibilities of what could be ferment into what could have been as I embrace or reject the choices before me. Even inaction bears consequences. Even stillness carries me forward.
Yet through the alchemy of fiction, I can live in other times, in other ways. I can cheat time, bend the boundaries by living as dozens or hundreds of characters in stories.
And so – if for no other reason than that, perhaps writing is worth it. To write then, is to live – not once but an infinite number of times.