I’ve been having really disconcerting dreams that I couldn’t remember. I knew they were disconcerting because I woke up disoriented, distressed. Then last night, I finally broke through. I’ve been time-traveling. Every night for the past month or so, I’ve been dreaming that I’ve been going back in time and changing something I’ve regretted and then playing out the new future that would have resulted from that. I only have pieces of some of them, but in the end, I always end up back here, not just because I wake up but also in the dream. Because I was always going to be here.
I do not believe in predestination, I believe in free will. I believe we make choices and then cope with the consequences. But I also believe that there are larger patterns in our lives that we are irrevocably drawn to, waves that ebb and flow, and that part of figuring out life is figuring out our own patterns, riding those waves. For example, I believe that a lot of our personalties are with us at birth. Any mother who has ever looked into the eyes of her newborn knows this. They’re not blank slates, those babies. They’re even more decided as they turn into toddlers. I have three grandchildren right now. The newest is still only a few weeks old, and I haven’t met him yet, but the two girls at one and three are completely different people. Callie is sunny and smart and loving and trusting. Emmy has a smile that can light up a room, but she’s here to change the stuff she doesn’t like and she’s not taking any crap from anybody so do not cross her. Their parents treat them exactly the same, but they’re entirely different people, and based on my experience raising their mother, they’re always going to be that way.
So given that we’re born with such strong personalities, and given that there are those huge patterns in our lives (just for the sake of argument), I think it’s not a violation of free will to say that some outcomes are inevitable. Lani and I were talking one day a couple of years ago about what an amazing thing it was that she moved in and it worked so well for both of us. “Imagine our lives if you hadn’t come to stay, ” I said. “We were always going to be here,” she said.
I find a great deal of comfort in that. When I think about the added expense of the cottage and how I’m going to find the money to finish it, I remember what it felt like the first time I walked inside: I was always going to be there. When I start to freak about how my writing is changing, how I’m not sure how the new books will work, how I can’t go back to the way I used to write even though I’ve tried, I look back at the evolution of my storytelling and think, “It doesn’t matter what’s smart or right, I was always going to be here.” And when I wonder at the marvel that is the Krissie-Lani-Jenny sisterhood, and think about how it might never have been if we hadn’t all agreed to write Dogs and Goddesses, I realize that if it hadn’t been Dogs and Goddesses, it would have been something else: We were always going to be here.
I do believe in free will. I believe my choices matter. I believe I can change my life. But I also believe in accepting that somes things are inevitable–I will always choose to live in the middle of nowhere, I will always have to make something no matter what the cost, I will always have Krissie and Lani in my life, I will always love my daughter before anyone and anything in this world, I will always have dogs. So when I end up in a cottage that’s close to my daughter with rooms for Krissie and Lani to come stay, a big yard for the dogs, and a whole basement to make things in, it was always going to happen. I feel the same way now, after those dreams, about the mistakes I’ve made in my life. I made some of those mistakes over and over again, and it seems so futile looking back–why couldn’t I have seen what I was doing?–but looked at as part of a larger pattern, like some kind of awful dream-a-night-for-a-month calendar, those mistakes had to happen, they were part of my learning curve, they made me who I am today, and I’m pretty sure I’m who I’m supposed to be now, so they were always going to happen.
It would have been nice not to have had a whole month of those weird dreams in order to see this, but maybe I was always going to be there, too. Getting here is as important as being here. So I’m going to (try to) relax, stop worrying about where I should be, pay attention to my patterns, ride the wave, and enjoy the journey because wherever I end up, I was always going to be here.