By Pandora Poikilos
Many moons ago, I sat with Pixel and sort clarity. The late night scene that enveloped us was more than peaceful. It was by his swimming pool, the moonlight streamed its light on the garden. We sipped our coffees and we were engrossed in our own thoughts about how life would turn out for each of us. He was embroiled in a bitter relationship. I was conflicted between work, my recent diagnosis and life in general.
We talked about other things as well. I don't remember these. But I do remember what he said about relationships in general, "It's like making a sales call. Every time you knock on someone's door, you won't get a yes. But instead of standing outside someone's door wondering why they said no, keep knocking until you get a yes." Truer words have never been spoken.
Death - Pixel and I have been friends for more than a decade and on Christmas Eve, his grandmother passed away. She and I had never had long, elaborate conversations for the simple reason she spoke no English and I spoke no Chinese. But we had simple, meaningful translated conversations about each other's health and well-being. And for as long as I remember, every time I was at his house, she was there always with a meal ready to be served. The last time I saw her, I was about to hit rock bottom and I was crushed. She offered me food and said if you don't eat and do not take care of yourself, nothing will be fixed. Yes, I was devastated at the news of her death especially when I wasn't able to attend the funeral. No, her death wasn't a painful one. Maybe, God needed her more and there was some reason for it all but a wee bit of me still hurts.
Dollars & Cents - When I first wanted to self-publish my short stories in November, I unknowingly got off on the wrong foot with someone else and I was told this, "You will see how much you make off Amazon. I guess you do not understand how things work." The end result of this conversation was that I self-published both my novels, the blog directories and two short stories on Amazon. And this person was absolutely right, I was way off my sales target. You see I didn't sell 10 books or 100 books, I sold more than 70,000 ebooks in December 2011. Icing on the cake - Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out made it to #1 on the Kindle Top 100 and Frequent Traveller made it to #10.
In the last two years, I have gotten comfortable on a monthly budget of $300, sometimes less. Between medical bills, daily expenses and a few knick knacks there isn't much left but I'm able to get what I need and that's enough. The money I receive from Amazon for my December sales will make way for many months of "fixed" income as I have no plans of increasing my monthly budget any time soon. Yes, the task of self-publishing is more than daunting. No, I have no regrets about self-publishing. Maybe, I'll be able to get more than two novels out this year. Fingers crossed.
Family - Of all the things that happened this year, the best was this. I got to spend a day with my father's brother, also my Godfather over the Christmas week. It has been years since we've seen each other. Even longer since we've spoken. Yes, there were cards and letters as I was growing up. But geographical distance and life got in the way and all of this stopped for the longest time. Our meetings in between were short and somewhat rushed. This time, it felt longer and it was needed. As he was on his way to see me, the first thing he said was, "Please don't misunderstand the lack of communication." We talked. We ate. We laughed. We watched tv. We exchanged gifts. And I got the best present in more than twenty years. Pictures of my father's grave.
I was three when he passed away. My mum and I were another country visiting her relatives when we got word that he had had a heart attack when sending my brother to school. She left to make funeral arrangements. I was left with relatives until she came back. I never made it back to see him. So many questions. So much that was left unsaid. And then over this Christmas, I got to see his grave. After more than twenty years, I had another piece of him with me. Yes, I definitely want to make a trip to see him. No, I can't do it any time soon with my shunt issues and I'll definitely have to consider an alternative route to flying. Maybe, just maybe, all of this will work out.
Of everything that has happened this year, why did I get fixated on these three things? Death is certain. Family is necessary. Determination and hard work gets you through, even when someone else says a task cannot be done.
Ever so often people tell me you've had brain surgery so there must be something wrong with you. Yes, there's plenty wrong with me. I have a tube in my head to prove it. But I'm still here. And God's not done with me yet. I'm pretty sure I'm a masterpiece in the making just as you are.
Life will always find a way to hit the pause button whether you're ready for it or not. This doesn't reduce the quality of the masterpiece, it just makes it better. It's easy to become swallowed by the complexities of a "no" and the uncertainty of a "maybe" than to stay focused and keep working towards a "yes". That's life. And we're all guilty of it.
Keep it simple. Keep moving forward. Yes. No. Maybe. You're the only one who can make a difference in your life. Love and light. Happy New Year.