Priorities are something one should take out, dust off, and give a good once-over every so often. It’s healthy and reaffirming. It’s nice to know that you, yourself, still approve of what you’re doing, since you’re not likely to get that from anywhere else. The media will hound you, day after day, with messages designed to make you re-evaluate what you think and do. That, in and of itself is another rant for another time, but it’s still good to get that affirmation from yourself, if you can’t get it anywhere else.
I have, for many years, thought my priorities are completely in line with what I needed to be doing at that moment. I have my own issues with the media, and I generally don’t subject myself to television, so I felt I was generally out of its grip. I had control of the situation. We aren’t rich—far from it—but wealth isn’t what matters. And so, my hubris kicked in. It’s probably my biggest flaw. It’s not just pride; it’s the notion that I have to be in charge, or else it won’t work correctly. I’m not a “control-freak.” Sometimes being in charge means proper delegation of authority. I don’t micro-manage. But I do tell people what I want done, and when. Sometimes that works out for me, and sometimes I’m talking to an independently-minded four-year-old. And there are some things that I can’t run. I can’t be the boss of everything. But I often still imagine those things would run more smoothly if I were in charge.
Then an EF-5 tornado came and ripped up everything. It makes one re-evaluate in ways that nothing else can. It certainly stripped away my hubris just the same as it stripped hundreds of trees in Joplin. Of course, that hubris has been replaced by fear and helplessness, so it’s not all good. Not by a long shot. But it has forced a different perspective on me. Now, when I look at my priorities, I see things through eyes that can never see permanence in anything. In Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance series, the wizard Raistlin is given great power, but he is also cursed with eyes that cannot see beauty—he sees things only in a state of decay. Mine are not that extreme, but nothing is the same.
I go through all of this to say, simply, that I’ve found a new direction for myself. It’s the old direction, with more focus. I wanted to write fantasy novels. I may still do that. But there will be a winnowing period. It’s not something I can explain, as I haven’t reached my destination and I have no map, but I know now the road I must travel. A burden is lifted. I can focus now on what I was meant to do—what I was made to do. And that is a gift. Under terrible circumstances such as these, we must extract every gift we can from the wreckage so we can move forward. This has been a long time coming, for me, as there were signs and portents before May 22nd, but now I cannot deny them. I see them all with my altered eyesight. They all point to the same thing. I don’t know exactly where God is taking me with this, but I have signed on for the ride. There are still many things for me to work out along the way, but I have my tickets in hand. God is conducting the train. It’s time for me to move forward.
And so I shall.