One of my better lives

About fifty years ago, a psychic told me that this was going to be one of my better lives.

Compared to those whose families are snuffed out by crime, war, disease, death, and other misfortunes, she got it right. This lifetime has been rather volatile and problematic enough that sometimes I wonder, “better than what?”

Well, I know what happened in some of those past lives, and sure as heck wouldn’t want to return to them. I died in at least one war and was an abused child in another life. I carry such memories just like memories of times gone by in this life.

Yes, I believe in reincarnation and that many of those involved with us in one life were involved with us in “earlier” lives. No, we are never rats or cats or zebras or any other animals. I’ve believed this since I was in high school. Suffice it to say, I was at odds with the beliefs of the Presbyterian Church on this matter (among others).

I read an article today about an author whose therapist suggested she write fiction or nonfiction about the things that brought her to therapy. Perhaps she could change the endings and show herself as triumphant rather than in deep depression. I’ve never been able to keep a journal, but many writers have found journals help them make sense of things.

Many things in my life had been fictionalized into themes and scenes and brief moments in a lot of my fiction. I wasn’t writing to “get even” (a common joke about crossing an author and ending up in his/her next novel) but to make sense of things. Oddly enough, the worst parts of this “better life” turned into my best fiction. Those moments were the kinds of conflict the stories needed. Had I lived in an ivory tower with $10000000000000 in my bank account, I wonder what the hell I would have written about.

Perhaps “better lives” means not getting killed but having enough angsty stuff to write about. Okay, as a writer, I can see that.

If you write, do you find more “quality material” in the worst moments of your life than the best? If you don’t fictionalize those worst moments into books and stories you publish, do you come to terms with them in a journal and/or a bottle of Xanax?

Writing, whether it’s journaling or published fiction/non-fiction, is a good escape valve for all that ails us. At least, it’s kept me reasonably sane. (I’ve always thought being 100% sane is a mistake.) At any rate, I believe we create our the realities within which we live. So, I guess I can say that I wanted survivable slings and arrows. An old friend once told me she thought life as, at best, boring. I can’t see that at all. This “better life” has not been boring, far from it. I couldn’t have tolerated that.

But you, whether you write or not (one way or another), how do you feel about this lifetime (even if you believe you are given only one of them)? Has it been better than average–whatever that means? Yes or no on “better than average,” has it suited your needs? For me, the answer is “yes.” Like you, I am what I have lived, and it’s difficult to imagine anything else.