Going Aloft, Chapter 4

One of the things that I’ve discovered about myself in writing this book is that I’m a perfectionist. Every little detail, every word, every sentance, has to be exactly right, or else I get angry and depressed. This story is the shining beacon in my life’s dark February, and if any cloud-like blemish comes across the horizon towards it I get defensive, like a mother bear towards her cub. This story is a piece of myself, a beating chunk of my living heart, and I want to protect it accordingly. These are real things that happened to real people, and those real people happen to be my friends. It’s because I care so much about telling this story well that I have deluded myself into believing that anything less than perfection is letting myself down.

But of course perfection is unobtainable for us flawed humans that walk the face of this earth. By my writing I’m slowly learning that we can get close to it, and the distance between us and perfection decreases exponentially, like a diminishing fractal, but no matter how hard we try we always stop just short of actually obtaining it. Something intrinsic within ourselves won’t let us grasp perfection, and it’s up to us to decide how close we can get our work to the imaginary ideal before we finally tell ourselves that it’s ok, that it is good enough. There’s a Terry Pratchett quote my friend Gwenyfar told me today that I think fits nicely: “To be human is … to be the place where the fallen angel meets the rising ape.”

When this week’s installment came out in encore, I was upset that one of the paragraphs was printed twice (it wasn’t even the best paragraph in the chapter, which made it worse). I should have stepped back, taken a breath, said it’s not a big deal, accidents happen. I should have done this. But instead I wrote a pompous email to my editor, who deserved none of my acerbity, and felt bad about it for the rest of the day. We’ve since discussed it and all is well between us now; no harm was done. Thank goodness. But so I just want to go on record here and state how thankful I am to my editor, Shea Carver, who constantly amazes and is for some reason willing to take time out of her ridiculous schedule and deal with a shoot-from-the-hip, often-immature-and-prone-to-hyperattention-and-letting-things-get-blown-out-of-proportion writer such as myself, and has given me the platform and opportunity and patient ear necessary to tell my story to the world. So thanks for all you do, Shea.

But that’s not who this chapter is about. Chapter Four is about a person who I love more than anybody else in this world. The person I share a bed and an apartment and most of my meals with, the one who was willing to pause her educational goals and come sailing to paradise with a boy she had met only months before. The slender lovely vision of a woman whose face never fails to brighten my mood. It’s said that every great man has a great woman behind him. I’m not claiming to be a great man, but I do have the benefit of having a great woman anyways. And that’s who this chapter is about: my wonderful fiance, Gina, a remarkable person who stepped up to the challenge of sailing the ocean with grace and with beauty, and captured my heart in the process.

Read it here.

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