A Life Full of Possibilities

Connections make life worth living, but more than that, connections make life itself.

At the most quantum level, possibilities connect and become waves. Waves connect and become particles. Particles connect and become atoms. Atoms connect and become molecules. Molecules connect and become cells. Cells connect and become gametes. Gametes connect and become us. We connect and become communities. Communities connect and become countries.

A matrix of connections in our brains makes thinking possible. An entire matrix of connections holds us to the earth and makes living possible.

Despite these long strings of connections, I’m beginning to see that disconnections are almost as important as connections. When my life mate/soul mate died a little more than three years ago, the connective tissue of my life disintegrated, and my world lay in a heap of rubble at my feet.

Since then, more connections have disintegrated, adding to that heap of rubble. Some of those disconnections were interpersonal ones — friends and family. Other disconnections were intrapersonal ones — thoughts, hopes, even my very identity.

Often during these past years, I have despaired at the thought that only bleakness lay ahead of me. But bleakness is but one possibility. Within that pile of rubbish lie many new possibilities. Perhaps I am one of the lucky ones, getting to start all over with a new set of possibilities. As people have been telling me for the past three years, life is such a big place with endless possibilities I have never dreamed of. They have told me the universe is unfolding as it should, and that it is not yet finished working in my life. They have told me that wonderful things lie ahead of me.

What of that is true, I don’t know, but what I do know is that no matter what fate has in store for me, I am not yet finished working in my life. Just as I am gradually sorting through the detritus of my shared life, getting rid of things for which I no longer have any practical or emotional need, I am sorting through the rubble of my shattered world. Maybe I will find enough shards to rebuild my life into something workable, or maybe I will have to go out and look for pieces I can use to rebuild my life into something special.

Since my current responsibilities keep me from actually going out in the world and physically searching for new connections, I am starting with me, rethinking old beliefs, trying on new thoughts, discarding old hopes, and dreaming new possibilities into reality.

Because, at its most basic level, life is nothing but possibilities.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Codependency or Interdependency?

Several months ago when I was steeped in grief, I found comfort in the thought that my deceased life mate — my soul mate — was at peace, but then it occurred to me that maybe he wasn’t, that if there was some sort of life after death perhaps he felt as split apart as I did. According to one minister I talked to, my mate could be having problems depending on how codependent he was. Whatever that means. I thought a relationship was about being dependent on each other, and we were. At least until our last year together when we began untwinning our lives so we could go our separate ways — he to death, me to continued life. That’s also why my grief shocked me so much—I thought we had untwinned even before he died.

Shortly after that conversation with the minister, a woman who should have known better accused me of being codependent because I was having such a hard time learning to live without my life mate. (The truth is, I knew how to live without him because I was doing it. What I was having a hard time with was wanting to live without him. Life, of course, doesn’t care what we want, and I continued on to where now I am — mostly “healed.” ) But still, there was that C word again.

I can see that people would have questions about codependency considering how bereft I was without him and how lost I felt, but when he was alive, we were never obsessed with each other, though we were connected in so many ways. We were friends, life mates, and business partners. We always wanted what was best for the other. We helped each other grow. We never expected the other to fix our individual problems, though we often took each other’s advice. We didn’t cling, demand, or base our relationship on unrealistic expectations. Together we provided a safe environment where each of us could be ourselves. And we supported each other any way we could. Yes, we were dependent on each other, but isn’t that what life is all about?

Long-term illness, however, does skew a relationship. Over the years, our world kept getting smaller and smaller, trapping us in a terrible situation where neither his nor my needs were being met. To that extent, perhaps, we were codependent, staying together when others might not have, but what is wrong with that? Still, I’ve felt foolish at times admitting my need for him. In this world that prizes independence so much, it seemed immature and self-indulgent.

But, as one commenter on my Grief is NOT Self-Indulgent post said, “There is nothing foolish in dependence. The foolishness lies in the notion that we are not co-dependant on each other. We are a co-dependant vulnerable species who waste a whole lot of time and cause ourselves much suffering by pretending we are not. There are many reasons why we perpetuate this denial but just as we are dependant on the earth for our physical health so are we dependant on each other for our emotional health.

“Personally I feel there is a strong connection between people not understanding grief and those same people not understanding just how precious and vital their relationships are. Every day I see people not recognizing the value of each other. It often amazes me how much we deny our dependence on each other . . .  we don’t even like the word dependant. Perhaps that is why grief is so hard to witness for then our dependence is there in the open smacking us in the face.” (She developed this idea into a blog post The Illusion of Independence at Leesis Ponders.)

Well, I no longer have to worry about whether we were codependent or interdependent. I am independent now. His death freed me, but for what? I still have to figure that out.

On Writing: Rules of Magic

There are two rules for writing about magic:

1. It always has a price
2. It must have limits.

I don’t know who wrote that, but it seems a good pair of rules when it comes to literary magic. As writers, we can do whatever we imagine, yet whatever we imagine must serve the story we are telling. Which means the magic must have a price and it must have limits. (If there are no limits, then there is no conflict and hence, no story. If there was no kryptonite, Superman would be just a ho-hum guy in a cape.)

Literary magic comes in vast array of guises — love, intelligence, beauty, skills, exotic worlds, wonder, wisdom. All have limits, all have a price and consequences. In the non-literary world, sometimes the ripples of such magic are small and unfelt by most people. Such as the magic of a smile. If you smile at someone, they might smile back, and that small exchange might make them feel good enough to smile at someone else. Other small matters might have dire consequences, such as an extra drink before getting on the highway. All lives impinge on others.

I read a story once, an anecdote, really. A guy found a spider swimming in his toilet. He decided to rescue the spider, took it out of the water, and set it on the floor. The next day, he found the spider in his toilet again, and again he took it out. A little later, he found the spider dead. Why, the storyteller asked, did the spider die? The answer: because one life impinged on another.

Whether that statement has validity in real life, it certainly fits with fiction. Everything in a novel should be connected to everything else, which means that small actions could have large consequences. Perhaps that is why fiction is so compelling — it enables us to notice such ramifications. We can’t see far enough in real life to be aware of such connections and their impact, but I’m sure they are there. And isn’t that what magic is? The manipulation of the real and ordinary?

None of my books are about magic as such, but all have an element of magic, even if it is just the magic of a quest, of love, of being different, of finding one’s self. The most magical of my books is Light Bringer, but the magic of the main characters’ harmonic resonance causes problems only because it shows that they are not exactly human. It has limits, since this particular magic doesn’t bring them much happiness — at least not yet. The price they pay could be the fate of the entire world.

What is the magic of your book? What is its price? What are its limits?