First of all, it's not even midnight any more, it's like 2:30 AM - more middle of the night than midnight, if you get my drift. I have no idea what I am going to write about.
Oh, wait, why am I up so late? you wonder. Well, my family is taking care of my wife's mom, who is 88 years old and no longer very mobile. She cannot get out of bed or to the restroom unassisted, so we take turns staying downstairs at night, listening for her bell when she needs something. During the week, my two adult daughters are paid to look out for her, but on weekends it's time for me and my wife to do our share. I do Friday nights, she does Saturdays. So that's why I'm here.
I had thought about another political rant, but honestly, I'm sick of politics at the moment - and politics is something I normally live and breathe! But the hatred that pervades both sides of the political aisle right now is so depressing I just don't have the will for it. Thomas Jefferson said in his inaugural address: "Let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and as capable of bitter and bloody persecutions." And yet, here we are. How can we find common ground and move our nation forward when each side is convinced that the other is out to destroy the country? It is deeply troubling.
But politics is not the only thing that troubles me in these gloomy hours of the predawn darkness. At 53, my own mortality is staring at me more intently than it once did. Don't get me wrong - I know that I am not really that old yet. But the thing is, once you hit your fifties, you can no longer remotely pretend that you are YOUNG. And I liked being young. I liked being strong as an ox, with enough stamina to hike the river all day long, come home, grill supper, snuggle with my wife, and do it all again the next day. Nowadays when I go arrowhead hunting I need a full day to recover, and those river rambles cover a lot less ground than they used to. Even so, if I could freeze things where they are now, I would be OK with that. I can still do everything I ever did, even if I do it more slowly these days and am a bit more sore afterwards. But time waits for no man, and I'll blink and fifties will turn to sixties, and then sixties to seventies. I don't want to be that old! My greatest horror is losing my mobility, becoming a burden to my wife and daughters, and living on and on in a debilitated state as my mind and body slowly wither away. I'd much rather keel over with a heart attack in my sixties or seventies, going out like a light whose switch has been flipped, than linger on into uselessness. But I don't get to choose, and that is what troubles me. Death itself holds no fear for me, nor does what comes after death. For all my flaws (and they are many!), I am secure in my faith and confident of my eternal destination. It's the journey there that scares me!
What else do I worry about? Money, of course. We've never had much of it, our savings are not great, and yet those retirement years are getting closer and closer. I have a sneaking suspicion that, if my health holds out, I may well be teaching into my seventies or eighties. But that's actually not a terrible fate - I do love the classroom. I'd rather strike it rich and buy a nice retirement home on Lake Limestone, but honestly, if I have to live in this house and stay at this job for another twenty-five years, well - the house is paid for and the job is fun. My kids keep me feeling younger than I really am, and that's a good thing. But I would like to be able to go to Red Lobster and order the stinkin' lobster without worrying about how I will pay for it, you know?
Something else I wonder about, here alone, hunched over a keyboard at 3 AM now - why don't my books sell better? I have three novels in print, two more in the pipeline (LOVER OF GOD releases in April!!), and I'm working on number six. They are GOOD books - my readers have all loved them, I have 65 Amazon reviews and only one negative one in the bunch. But my sales rank is still way down in the millions. I have often said, and I mean it, that I will stack my books alongside any other author in the field of Christian fiction and they'll measure up. One of the things that inspired me to write, to be honest, was reading a book that hit the Christian fiction best-seller list, and being appalled at just how badly written and researched it actually was. I thought: "I can do better!" and I think I have. But I don't have widespread name recognition, and teaching full time doesn't give me as many opportunities to promote my books as I would like. So there on Amazon they sit, delighting the few who read them - but only a few read them. I have dreams, of course - every writer does. THE TESTIMONIUM would make an amazing movie, and THE REDEMPTION OF PONTIUS PILATE could be an epic TV miniseries. But, so far no studios or screenwriters have called. But we all need a dream, and runaway literary success is mine. I'll keep writing if you guys will just keep reading! Actually, that's a lie. I'll keep writing anyway. I'm addicted to storytelling now, there is no going back.
Speaking of storytelling, I just finished Chapter Five of THE EMPEROR AND THE APOSTLE. And Chapter Six is beginning to take shape in my head, so perhaps I need to wrap this up and get back to working on my book, whaddaya think?
Thanks for hanging out and reading my ramblings. I promise to be more coherent next week.
You know, something else I wonder. They make cold pills so you can get some relief when you are sick and weak. Then they place them in this hardened plastic blister wrap that is a challenge to open, even when you are healthy and strong. Someone in the pharmaceutical packaging plant is a sadist, I suspect!
OK, now I'm just babbling. Till next week!!