The Taoist’s Guide to Staying Sane in an Insane World

This week has seen a landslide of member resignations from RWA members. Former presidents Leslie Kelly and Dee Davis, working with acting executive director Leslie Scantlebury – all people I like and respect as effective leaders – offered a plan to help the current skeleton board restore RWA. They were refused and Leslie posted the news and her member resignation on Twitter. Other amazing authors and leaders like Beverly Jenkins and Kristan Higgins have resigned their memberships, too. RWA has posted severely reduced registration rates for the National Conference in July – an event I once built my calendar around – and all I can envision is a ghostly empty hotel with echoing hallways where thousands of my friends once gathered.

It’s all so difficult and heart-breaking, and it feels like a microcosm of the greater political landscape in the U.S. and the world.

At the same time that I’m grieving these losses, I’m preparing a workshop I’ll be giving (remotely) to the New England Chapter of RWA (NECRWA): The Taoist’s Guide to Staying Sane in the Writing Business. I’ve been making plenty of notes on how to reframe the presentation to include handling the great disappointments RWA national has been handing us.

In fact, I think I should just change the presentation title to “The Taoist’s Guide to Staying Sane in an Insane World.” Really, that’s what it all comes down to. The avalanche of news can rock our boats to the point where we take on water and capsize. But we do have control of that – something I have to continually remind myself. Even though RWA has felt like a framework that has supported me these last dozen years, and though it’s easy for me to conflate the success of my career with the well-being of RWA, I have to remember those things aren’t true.

I take a moment to gaze out the window at the snow-covered landscape, at the mountains in the distance, always there through storms and the rise and fall of the light. Setting up my good camera on the tripod, I get photos of the moon caught in the bare winter branches of a tree against a peach sky.

My boat stabilized and serene, I sail on.

Thingummies


Today’s Exhibit A is an anti-nature example.

About a week back, some kids dropped a trail of gummi worms on the bike/walking path. You know the kind I mean – the gel-type candy with the neon colors never found in nature.

Like this:

They seem to have been deposited on purpose, at regular intervals, decorating the path from the shopping center down past the school. It’s possibly an experiment. I know I’m sorry I haven’t taken daily photos to document the course of their non-decomposition.

I should note that we live in a fairly rural area. We’ve had coyotes and bobcats on our porch, along with various other kinds of wildlife. There’s a pretty vital cycle of life here, predation, scavenging and insectile clean-up. Nothing organic lasts long.

Yeah, you know where I’m going with this.

At first, nothing seemed to change. They glistened in the hot sun on the asphalt path for a couple of days. To all appearances ready to be plucked up and eaten.

Only nothing was eating them.

Gradually the color leached away. Apparently even those neon dyes aren’t forever. But they were still recognizably gummi worms.

Now you can see they’ve shrunk into what’s probably their original, cylindrical core. Not unlike those plastic plugs you keep in your junk drawer, not knowing what their real purpose is.

After a couple of hot days, they finally appear to be melting somewhat, though not enough to lose their distinctive shape. The ants occasionally nose at them, but carry nothing away.

The now leached worm cores melt and recongeal. Sometimes a bicycle tire swoop carries a bit away.

I fully expect them to become one with the asphalt.