Today, while I was feeling burned out after a day of work, thinking of all I wanted to do with my life but hadn’t yet done, these hopeless words I once wrote came to me:
“Belief is only belief, but suffering will always be suffering.”
I’ve written several stories about women who are desperately frustrated that, because of their exceptionally shitty place in society in certain situations, they feel there is nothing more they can do to help themselves. Made damsels not by real dragons skulking between them, the moat and the charming prince (or goal), but because of… well… bullsh*t happening in their lives.
Haha—I’m okay, seriously. I’m not particularly pissed about anything these days, which is… hey there, that’s a nice change! But whether you’re a woman or man, it is interesting… how dark things can feel, before they actually do get that dark. And that’s a truly precious space, where we can lose control or grasp it back again.
This sad, graying garden of self-doubt where all the flowers might wilt, unless you Katy-Perry-I’m-wide-awake-yourself out of that dying hedge-maze.
So, when you feel sort of nihilistic (well, no, I guess you can’t be ‘sort of’ that), and all your wishing and praying for a better life seems futile when the reality is, your looking on the bright side in that moment does not change—no, it does not instantly change—your circumstance… when suffering itself feels like the only tangible absolute… how can you pick yourself back up?
Take a look at this passage from one of the final chapters of Mi’Raah, a story about a dejected sea priestess stuck married to a pirate-wannabe megalomaniac, the almighty Prince Arudelle. Right now, Mi’Raah has the power to revive her suicidal friend Koriandra, but first, she must convince Kori to live.
Mi’Raah: End of the Prose
Mi’Raah was announced over the dying woman’s speech. The pirates saluted, or didn’t know to, and parted ranks. Mi’Raah had drips of water all over her robes and flecks of white ice in her hair. A sheet of it slipped down over her gold breastplate, more evidence of how she’d survived the battle.
“Kori! What have you done?”
Arudelle sniped, “I happen to be alive here, as well.”
Koriandra said, “There’s no point, to life.”
“This had better not be about those horses, again!”
“My horses are gone, because Arudelle’s always been a liar. Nor do I want to see you,” she looked away. “You and Odentalis broke everything… and then some people really believed… Arudelle would be a good king. Pfft!” Mi’Raah sat beside Koriandra, patted her cheek. “…Mrm?”
“Listen to me, Koriandra. I realized something today. I can choose my life. No, I can choose to live. I can believe in order that the suffering be made less. When there is nothing but fear around me, then what will I do? Fear to even love? If life is fear… then I should love anyways. I should rejoice in the face of destruction. I should heal, without being told. I should rise, whether events desire for me to, or not.”
Mi’Raah took frightened breath and went on, “Because, most often, they will not. But, if I desire, if I believe, then I will have nothing to do with that. Small or strong, immortal or brief, I can choose to be free. I can free myself. By caring about my life. Whether or not life cares about me, that is not good enough to worry about.”
“I will live, and will others to live with me. Sweet bald thing, I’ve learned… if mortals are equal to immortals, in all the evil and good they choose to do… Then I have the power to redeem myself, and the choice to save others, too. Through my love. Precisely, because I choose to believe.”
Koriandra shut her eyes. “That’s pretty. Maybe.”
“If I believe, then there’s a better chance I’ll work, to set things right. One has to see first, one has to want first, before one can make a good reach. Please, consider it. Forcing someone to exist when they don’t want to, and for the reasons they don’t want to… I don’t know which is worse. But if you care at all, if you want to try Koriandra, then please tell me so, right now! I’ve killed enough. I want you to live, but I won’t have you dead on your feet, either. I won’t do that to you, anymore. Maybe the others haven’t learned their lessons but—argh! I’m so vain, even now. Dammit, let me help you when I’ve finally figured it all out. I was the cause of this, for ever choosing to aid or marry that lunatic. And now it’s my mess to clean up. Oh, by all that is, Kori, forgive me…” Mi’Raah cried and held her.
Odeon lowered his long neck. Arudelle said nothing. He even turned his back. “I want soldiers posted in the east and western wings of the castle. As for the throne room…”
A breeze came, the sun set. Koriandra squeezed Mi’Raah’s hand. “…Are you sure… bottle or no… you can’t kill him?”
“Not until he gets old, dear. Then, life kills him.”
. . .
After that, there’s one more chapter. Koriandra, though she’s distraught that Prince Arudelle killed her horses, her only family, she finds the strength to fight on with her friend Mi’Raah’s help. Well, they’re not exactly riding off into the sunset to save the world together with this newfound hope.
They’re more choosing to help Arudelle to take over the world because he’s their crazy boss and he wants to do it. *sigh…
But, even in the face of Arudelle’s unstoppable apocalypse, maybe they can make their victims’ lives easier, now that they both know what he’s truly capable of. And, a job is a job, right? Whether it’s your IRL nine-to-five or your dawnbreak-to-dusk labors in a fantasy fiction story.
Even having that choice to live, when you strip all the frustrating foolishness away, is thrilling—profound enough. If it takes a long time to make your life better, so what? It is still so worth it.
Believing in something during a rough moment isn’t useless, no. It is choosing something better, even when you haven’t got anything nice right in front of you. And, that takes balls.
Especially if you’re a woman.
(Couldn’t resist the pun. Sorry.)
- Read the whole End of the Prose chapter
- Read Mi’Raah the novella from the beginning (just pretend I didn’t give away the ending)