Monday, August 20, 2018

Perceptions of Tea, Time, and Captain Picard

As August comes to a close and my kids once again start packing their backpacks, I can't help but be amazed at how quickly time has passed.  Its easy to reassure yourself that there's a little more time to finish something, like...say...the first draft of a new book. *cough, cough* Go figure I'm exploring the concept of lost time in a novella being developed.

The novella focuses on the fictional daughter of Shen Nung, the emperor who legend tells invented tea.  The stories of its discovery are varied, so I thought it would be fun to explore this concept, since I'm a huge fan of loose-leaf tea. 

My current chapter focuses on the daughter as she copes with the loss of a loved one and how 'time' has betrayed her.  I think its a concept many of us can relate to.  Babes-in-arms are soon heading off to start their own lives, half-finished novels become dusty and forgotten on the computer (or in notebooks stuffed into a drawer, as we used to do in the late 1980s/early 1990s), and seasons change with no regard to our readiness or not (I'm looking at you, Minnesota Winter!).

But I'm also reminded of a line from "Star Trek: Generations" that Picard says to Riker near the end of the movie.  It goes like this:

Riker: I'm going to miss this ship; she went before her time.
Picard: Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe than time is a companion who goes with us on the journey, and reminds us to cherish every moment because they'll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important how we lived. After all, Number One, we're only mortal.
Riker: Speak for yourself, sir. I plan to live forever.

Before I go any further, yes, I have heard of the new Picard-themed show coming to CBS and I'm beyond PSYCHED about it!

Back to what I was saying...How do you view time?  A companion who helps us to cherish the moments or a villain who refuses to bow to commands or stop for our expectations?  I think its easy to get caught up in what's lost.  But this month, I challenge you to look at what's gained.  What's something time has reminded you of?  What's something time has given that's precious?

I think about all the times in high school I worried about perception and what people saw when they looked at me.  Was I cool enough?  Did they know that *gasp* I liked Star Trek??...because in the late 1990s, it was only cool to like Star Wars.  Looking back through time, I reflect on the huge amount of time I wasted on such worries.  Seeing those tendencies in my middle school and high school kids almost feels like fingernails on a chalkboard for me.  Talk about one of the biggest wastes of time.

The blog post before this also alluded to being yourself and not writing for other people's expectations.  I even had a conversation about this with an author friend of mine during dinner.  We discussed how it wouldn't be terribly difficult to pound out something that follows the trends of the market, but how authentic would that be?  Would the story resonate or fall flat because what's being created is not something that inspired us?  Instead, it would be something our author personae would wear to be trendy, kind of like the Girbaud jeans all the cool kids were wearing in high school that I never had.  Man, I'm glad my parents never bought me an overpriced pair!

Image result for Kids at bus stop
As the school year starts, I keep reminding my kids to be themselves.  Bullies will find anything to pick on, and it doesn't matter who you try to be.  Honestly, though, I realize this is a hard concept to master.  It started in me during my college years, and I'm glad it did.  I still struggled with other values of self-worth and self-importance as I worked through my own pitfalls in suffering silently with depression, but that's a tangent to explore another day.

As the fall winds blow and my kids stand outside for their morning bus ride to school, I'll take the time to enjoy the moment.  The winds blow forward and backwards, as I easily recall my own nervousness and excitement at a new school year.  Time gives me a new perception on myself and my children.  Time holds my hand and helps me move forward with my head held high.

I think the more authentic you are in life, the easier it is to savor time.  I hope this idea will ferment in your heart and flow through your days.  Take a deep breath, sit back, and enjoy the story of your life as the pages unfold.  Its quite a good tale, wouldn't you say?