Have you ever wondered where stories like the Odyssey came from? I think it was road blocks.
Except he was in a boat.
Still, there was the whirlpool, the sirens, the witch … Basically watery road blocks.
And that guy Job in the Bible, the guy the Devil throws all kinds of bad stuff on, losing everything financially, his family dying, boils all over his body. Devil roadblocks.
I’m running into all kinds of roadblocks for my books getting published. You have to have an agent to get to the editor to get to the publisher to get to the readers (to be rich and famous). Okay, screw being rich and famous, I just want someone to read my book, so I’ll self-publish. But you have to sell a certain number of books to get more visibilty to sell more books. To sell more books, you need book bloggers to recommend your book, but they don’t read ebooks, they don’t read your genre, they don’t read books that don’t have five 4-star Amazon reviews, which you can’t get until someone buys the book, or they don’t read self-pubbed books at all. So you go to the epublishers wanting to be non-self-pubbed to get to some reviewers, and to get a printed book to send to other reviewers, but they don’t print until you’ve sold a certain number of ebooks, and if you’ve self-pubbed it, they won’t look at it in the first place. Arggg! Publishing roadblocks.
College is the same thing. My daughter Rachel wants to go into the medical field. She just likes to help people, and she would be so amazing in that field. And it’s a good field. Especially with all of the Baby Boomers about to get decrepit and in need of medical stuff. But getting into those schools is so hard. The grades you have to have! When I was studying engineering, you could flunk a class and sign right up to repeat it next semester (or just run screaming like I did). These guys are mean — they only offer a class once a year. You get a C in it and you have to wait a whole year to try again. College roadblocks.
My daughter Sheri wants to be a tattoo artist. Talk about mean! To be a tattoo artist, you have to apprentice. To be an apprentice, it helps to be a guy, which she isn’t, being a girl and all. And you have to go through almost an initiation, running everyone’s errands. (And they make stuff up, like “I want a turkey sandwich.” “Actually, I want ham. Go back.”)
Do I want my daughter to be a tattoo artist? Of course not. I want her to go to medical school. I mean, it’s all sticking needles in people, right? But medical schools are too damned hard to get into. More roadblocks.
It’s so easy to take roadblocks personally, which is where those stories come from. It can’t just be a whirlpool. It has to be a female whirlpool dragging men to their deaths (my husband better not call me Charybdis). It can’t be that you steered the damn boat into the rocks because you were drinking a little too much Greek vino. A siren had to make you do it. (Another woman. I’m seeing a pattern here.) When crappy things happen, we can’t just say, “Oh, that was a long line of crappy things that just happened to me. This really sucks.” We have to think there’s a reason for all those crappy things. Which is dangerous, because if you think crappy things happen for a reason, you tend to be less sympathetic to people suffering from crappy things. You might even think they deserve it.
When Kansas City closed the road to the airport without a detour and I almost missed picking my daughter up, did I deserve that? No. Did she? No, it was just a crappy roadblock. An actual roadblock in this case.
It seems to be strangely comforting for people to think there’s a reason for everything, that Fate is to blame when things go wrong. They even blame God, which I guess I understand a little bit better. Why does He let little kids die of cancer? Why doesn’t he open a big hole in the ground under pedophiles and give them an express ticket to Hell? Thinking good things are destined by God (like meeting your husband) has the sneaky little corollary of thinking bad things are destined as well and making you mad at Him. I don’t know the answer. But I think it’s just, sometimes crappy things happen; let it go. Sometimes good things happen; be happy while it lasts. Cuz the crap is a’flowing your way. (Sorry to get all Midwest on you there.)