Mercury Anterograde

I feel as though my life is making unusually good time, if not record progress,  plowing against whatever metaphorical waves one might wish to imagine. My illness has not subsided in any meaningful sense but it isn't paralyzing me as it did for most of the last eighteen months. I'm doing things more in line with what I want to be doing and spending less of my time doing things to distract me from my own nagging internal narrative. 

This week, the past, with its peculiar gravity, has been tugging at me with greater insistence. My sister and her husband have spent the last decade a couple of time zones over. They returned to their old home town, just a few hours from here, this afternoon They drove back, and on the way, met up with our aunt and her considerable tribe. I haven't seen that side of the family in decades and the photographs of people I knew only as infant embracing their spouses was jarring. I knew, abstractly at least, that I needed to see them, but it's a more concrete imperative. 

At the same time, I spent the day chatting with an old friend of mine who I've not seen in over a decade now. The fact that we fell right back into conversation as though we'd be close this whole time made me want to carve out some time to see him next time I visit the north. 

Which is all to say, it's been a little melancholy around here this week. Nothing bad, but just some events which have left me a little preoccupied with the past. 

For a brief while, the romantic in me wanted to believe that clusters of travel, change, and setbacks occurring during a period of backwards movement by the planet Mercury represented a meaningful coincidence. I don't think I ever really bought in to it, and I surely don't now. Regardless, that romantic facet is reminding me now that Mercury is currently moving reliably forward and I would do well to take that hint. It's been good to look over my shoulder and enjoy some memories and let them inform my plans, but my it's good to feel the sense of forward travel these days.

"Two auxiliary telescopes (1.8m diameter) and UT1, one of the 8m unit telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), looking quietly at the Moon, Venus (brightest planet on the picture), Mercury (Between Venus and the Moon) and Mars (redish point above Mercury and Venus). " No comment on the direction of Mercury's apparent relative motion.

Goodbye, Sir Terry

I've been trying to write about the fact that this world is now short one (1) Terry Pratchett, but I've been struggling to come up with anything...worthy? Normally, I don't have any issue with writing about writers, but Sir Terry was so very important to me, I feel like I need to do better when I'm writing about him. I'm not enitrely certain I'm up to it, but writing poorly is probably better than not writing at all, so here goes:

My first exposure to Terry Pratchett was entirely accidental. I picked up a copy of Good Omens because I was a huge Sandman fan and it was co-written by Neil Gaiman. Of course I love Good Omens. As far as I know (and my direct knowlege is admittedly limited), everyone who has ever read that book has loved it. It's one of the very few novels which not only produced guffaws when I read it, but I still giggle when I remember the scene with the four other bikers of the apocalpse. 

Reading Good Omens, you can certainly hear Neil Gaiman's voice, but Terry Pratchett's voice was equally strong and distinctive. Having now read every Discworld novel multiple times, I recognize the sound of Sir Terry's voice, but at the time it was an enticing mystery. I have probably spent more of my hard earned money following that particular voice than I have on any other author's works and I've never once felt like it was money badly spent.

I had the good fortune to get to listen to Sir Terry reading and answering questions at an event hosted by a local bookstore. I've seen dozens of authors at book signings, but none of them have handled the job as gracefully or with so much humor. Each question, even the questions by the most ardent fans who were concerned with the tiniest minutiae, were answered as though they were from a dear friend inquiring about his children. He signed my copy of Small Gods (my favorite of his novels) and even drew a small turtle on it and that book remains one of my most treasured possessions.

What was it I loved so much about Pratchett's writing? He was funny, to be sure, but there was more to it than that. He had a marvelous ability to satirize almost any target, but not all subjects were equal. The well-meaning were gently spoofed, while the selfish, tyrannical, or just downright mean were giving a more blistering treatment. In Pratchett's Discworld, there was no greater virtue than trying to do right, even though trying to do right didn't always achieve the desired result and frequently ended with a visit from a gentleman who spoke in all caps.

So, even though I didn't really know Terry Pratchett, I know and love his writing and I miss him even though we only briefly crossed paths. I expect his books will remain beloved for generations, and that expectations makes me smile a little, but for right now, it doesn't dull the sadness of knowing that someone who gave me so much enjoyment and insight is gone before his time.