Friday, October 10, 2008

I saw this comic strip in the paper yesterday, and could relate in a couple of ways--like Mr. Drabble, I always used to kiss my manuscripts before I sent them out into the world as a little good luck bon voyage send off (not so easy to do nowadays when most of my submissions are electronic!) Also, like Mr. Drabble, I am thinking of a bunch of changes I'd like to make in my novel now that I've sent it off to my editor, but I know that we can discuss and work on those things after she's read this draft. I am feeling very nervous as I wait for her feedback!

It's fun to see the little rituals and superstitions that different writers I know have around the submission process--mailing them on a certain, significant day, using a special pen or carefully chosen stamps, saying a little prayer before pushing "send", etc. We do whatever we can to give ourselves the bravery we need to share our work with the world--otherwise, it can be so easy to feel too vulnerable and naked to move forward.

In times of crisis, it is understandable that people tend to reach toward ritual and superstition and prayer, as well. I have mentioned before that the number 47 has become meaningful to me, that it keeps popping up everywhere in my life for years; at first I was worried it was some sort of sign that I would die at 47, but I later took it to be a sign instead that I was on the right path. In this period of personal and national stress, 47 has become a strange little security blanket. I am always so glad when it appears (just about every time I drive, I seem to end up behind a license plate with 47 somewhere on its metal face, and it reassures me, somehow, that I'm where I'm supposed to be.) It's so silly, but I guess we need to turn toward the things that give us comfort, however random they may be.

I finally decided to do some research about the number 47 and learned that there is actually a 47 society that posits that 47 is the "quintessential random number of the universe." The society started as an inside joke at Pomona College, but has attracted many 47-sighters along the way. I joined their listserve and have been amazed to see how many people have a deep relationship with the number and see it everywhere, too (and not just because a Pomona College alum was able to inject a 47 into almost every Star Trek episode when he worked there as a writer and producer!) Part of me is excited to know that I have somehow tapped into this weird collective experience, but I admit another part of me is a bit sad to know that 47 is not just my special number alone.

I hope that everyone who is experiencing unrest right now has their own little source of comfort, even if it's just a number that pops up now and again like a small beam of light. I hope that in a time of such collective unease, we as a culture will figure out how to support each other, how to work collectively toward a more sustainable future, rather than retreat into our own compact balls of misery. It scares me to see the mob (almost lynch mob) anger that is rising up at the McCain and Palin rallies--the shouts of "Kill Him!" and "Off with his head!" and "Terrorist!" that are being directed at Obama. It scares me that people right now want to lash out instead of finding constructive ways to work together. I worry that a McCain presidency would perpetuate and deepen the Us vs. Them mentality that has become so prevalent in our country in the last 8 years. I can only hope an Obama presidency will heal some of these rifts (even though I can see the fury being hurled in his direction). As silly as it is, it gives me hope to know that Obama is 47 years old. That has to mean something, doesn't it? ;)

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