I began A Year and a Day of Living the Old Mermaids Way on Halloween of this year. It’s been eighteen days now, and what a whirlwind it has been. One thing after another has happened, and most of it hasn’t been what I would describe as “good.”
Mario and I have both had physical problems, and I haven’t been able to sit still, to ground, to write. I feel like I have a stalker in the form of nearly constant anxiety. I want to get away, but what I want to get away from is my constant anxiety and physical problems.
However, I have had some wonderful revelations during these first eighteen days. Yesterday, for instance, we were listening to a nonfiction book on CD, and some of the prose was quite . . . purple. I started feeling critical of the author. What possible good did this critical feeling do? We wanted to listen to the story, but it wouldn’t be much fun if I was cringing the entire time. I thought "what would the Old Mermaids think?” And immediately, I heard, “Why, Mr. Writer, those are very colorful metaphors!” Ahhh, yes. That felt much better. Instead of being critical of him, they admired him for his use of metaphor. Wow. What a difference that made to how I felt about this book and this writer. I was able to relax and just enjoy the story.
And a week or so ago, I was trying to figure out how to make a living. Yet again. Eighteen years ago, I was “injured” on the job when the library building where I worked was remodeled and they used toxic materials. So I am very careful about what jobs I consider. In the last year, Mario has been put in danger at his job, too. This made my job search feel urgent.
I look for jobs every month, and every month I’m faced with the same dilemma: If I work outside of my home, most likely the employer will do something toxic and I will be in danger again. Our experience has been that employers will ALWAYS put budget considerations before employee safety. Always. It’s astonishing to me, but there it is.
So I thought “what would the Old Mermaids do?” I realized I was going about it all wrong. Instead of trying to find a job I could fit myself into, why not figure out what I was good at and create a job for myself? I have training in many fields, and I’m good at many kinds of work: writing, managing, research, programming (not the computer kind), material selection, efficient workflow design, and permaculture. I have an avocation in green and nontoxic building design, and stories, folk tales, legends, myths, and fairy tales are at the heart of most of what I do.
And what I’m best at is “visioning.“ I am a great “big picture” person. I know how something should be, I can articulate it, and then I need to surround myself with people who can bring this vision into being. As I began articulating all of this to Mario, I felt a sense of joy. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I decided not to try and figure out the real-world possibilities yet. First I had to create it in my imagination. Later—although soon—I would create it here and now. But for now, as Mario suggested, I needed to continue to dream it.
Since then, I’ve had a few stumbles. Emergency and urgent care visits have thrown me for a loop. A dear friend died unexpectedly. And as I’ve contemplated this dream of mine, I’ve thought about our crumbling infrastructures, I’ve thought about the realities of life during peak oil, and I’ve wondered how I can dream anything concrete under these circumstances. But, of course, isn’t that the best time to dream? The Old Mermaids lost their entire world. They reinvented themselves in this world. It took a bit for them to get their “land legs,” but once they did, wow! What a world they created.
So I’ll keep working and playing at this. I will get my land legs soon because I have heard my siren call. One day at a time, the Old Mermaids Way. We’ll see what happens!