Delusions of Grandeur May 2017

On Loss.

On my way home from work, I was getting supplies to decorate the house in early December; The night before the Architect’s birthday. It took me about 30 minutes to find everything. Walking back to the car, I stumbled upon a violent scene.

The front passenger window was smashed. Glass was scattered inside the car, and outside on the pavement.

Some bastard broke into my car, and stole my bag.

Car windows, computers, iPads, and headphones all share something in common: they can be replaced. That’s undoubtedly what the thieves were after, but that’s not all they took. For years I’ve searched, bought, and tested every pen and bag I could find. What I carried that night were the best. My favorites.

Yes, I can buy new pens, and packs of the same make and model. But this particular pen—my favorite pen—and this particular pack had been lovingly used for years. They were one-of-a-kind. They were mine.

My pack, a Goruck GR1 had traveled the world, and seen new places with me. The pen, a Retro 51 Tornado, had signed the legal documents forming MartianCraft. It had written untold numbers of articles, press releases, and love letters to my wife.

Both were companions. I could not replace the scars, dents, scratches, and other imperfections that fondly reminded me of our journey together. Now, I only have memories.

It wasn’t the end of the world. I am sad to have lost them, but with their loss I gained an opportunity to start anew. Clean slates, which can provide new memories, and new adventures.

I replaced each with something slightly different. I traded my Retro 51 Deluxe Stealth Tornado with a different style of the Tornado—the Vintage Blacksmith Roosevelt. Instead of the standard black 21L GR1from Goruck, I purchased the 34L GR2 in Coyote. Each choice had a link to the prior, which was lost, but was different.

After a painless conversation with my insurance company, my replacements were purchased and on their way. But the assholes also took my novel journal, a black small Moleskine1 I purchased back in November. It contained random thoughts, and musings about the characters I was writing, including my notes from my first writing weekend. I would never get those thoughts back.

As soon as I first grasped the Roosevelt, I was compelled to write something. I cracked open the brand new small Moleskine journal, and wrote this on the first page:

Is it better to dwell on what was lost, or focus on what is ahead?
My last journal was stolen. This journal represents a rebirth.
Not from ashes or fresh from the womb.
I’m reborn with the knowledge of what came before.
An iteration of an original. Sown in the knowledge of what came before.
Bravely looking forward to what will change.

Every other page of this journal will be filled with random plot ideas, and character explorations. I wanted the first page to recognize this particular journal as the second version—a reminder of what was lost.

Like my pen and pack, I was starting fresh, but not from scratch. Every thought I wrote would be influenced by a prior thought, which I might or might not have written down in the old journal.

The Architect would confirm I can be quite melodramatic. However, my usual penchant for drama isn’t to blame this time. Two of my dear friends felt actual loss in 2016, and I’m fretting over things which can be replaced.

But what you might consider an over-reaction was actually catharsis. Well… sort of. Relief not from my own emotions, but Mara’s2. Her story is a common tale of discovering one’s identity, and I was stuck trying to place myself in the middle of her search for purpose. It’s one of the central themes in my novel.

This might sound strange to some, but it doesn’t feel like I wrote those words in the journal. Rather my main character, Mara, spoke them to me. At the time I wrote them, I was deep into character writing. I was thinking (and dreaming) in the voices of my characters.

The burglary was a perfect vehicle to focus on Mara’s loss of innocence. When I sat down to write about my own loss, I found words for her moment instead. Below is a re-write that found its way into the first draft, in her voice:

Is it better to dwell on what was lost, or focus on the path ahead?
My parents were stolen from me. I am a rebirth.
Not from ashes or from any Creator’s womb.
I’m reborn with the knowledge of what came before.
The iteration of an original, sown in the wisdom which proceeded me.
I look forward, bravely, and accept what has to change.

This is a pivotal moment in the novel. One where Mara realizes she’s come of age, faced with choices and responsibilities.

Months later, I barely remember writing the original passage, but it feels genuine. It sounds like her. My loss was transferred, and in the process transformed into her loss.

And that’s pretty cool.


  2. It’s early and I’m still writing my first draft, so Mara’s name could change.