“Stars is easy. People is hard.” – Granny Weatherwax, from A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Disclaimer, because I over-disclaim everything by habit and preference: this is wandering far too much into personal territory for me, for something that is ostensibly a public forum.  All broad-brush statements here are about my personal experience.  Take what is useful for you and use it; everything else, feel free to adapt or ditch.  I am a strange and odd creature, and I do not expect that my experiences or lessons will necessarily translate well for other people.  But this is what’s rattling around in my brain today, and I will never get better at both facing the nasty things in my brain and practicing writing (fiction and non-fiction alike) if I do not put things down into words and expose them to the potential reactions of others.

I have spent a lot of time thinking in the last few weeks about how my life got to the point that it did.  I broke a lot of my own rules in the process of failing to make decisions for myself, and I have become very thoroughly irate with the self that was me a year ago, six months ago, three months ago.  I am extremely displeased with the things I bought into, the things I paid dear for in a coin that I cannot buy back: time, and honor, and worth of self and word.  I think I have finally figured out the second reason that I paid such dear coin for a thing that did not need to be paid for to begin with.

Stars is easy.  People is hard.  One of the things I like best about Terry Pratchett is that he has a very good grasp on the beauty and bravery and brilliance of the mundane.  That in no way prevents him from understanding that it’s not romantic, it’s not pretty, and it’s downright fucking irritating and hard work to live a real life, with real people, that contains drudgery and bullshit.  It’s a whole lot easier to buy stars than pay for people, because stars are pretty and sparkly, and you never have to look at a star and be irritated that it has morning breath, or that it didn’t feed the cats again, or that it can’t handle money worth a damn.  People are harder, because they are so intimately close; it’s harder to remember the things that made you love them when you thought they were stars, and a whole lot easier to be irritated by them because you can’t make them shine anymore, no matter how hard you try.

I spent so much time playing a superhero to myself, pretending that I was important because I could afford to pay for stars.  Who could imagine that someone who can afford to pay for things so pretty, so sparkly, so dazzling, is not important?  Things like high ideals, principles that have no practical application, imaginary goals that are always just another horizon away, that are never really attainable – when those things got in the way of doing the right thing by people, then I was buying stars.  They are lovely to hang on your cloak, when you are trying to cut a dashing figure.  But this is the real world, and a dashing figure in a cloak with stars on it looks good for a weekend at a convention, but ends up being in the goddamn way fucking up traffic when they try to get on the subway and yell at people for stepping on their hem.  Stars are all well and good in their place, but they cannot be allowed to get in the way of taking care of people.

Stars are easy because they are so far away – and at the end of the day, things that far away cannot be as important, as critical, as downright fucking necessary to a life based in reality.  People are hard, because you can’t keep them at arm’s length and pretend they are perfect.  They are more important because they are hard.  If I am going to be the person who lives at 11, genuinely and without affectation or hesitation, I have to remember that it’s about people, not about abstracts.  Abstracts are there to serve people, not the other way around.  Getting that backwards was the first thing I did wrong, and I can fix that.

Stars is easy.  People is hard.  I may be more Nanny Ogg than Granny Weatherwax on the outside, and I may sing the Hedgehog Song with verses of my very fucking own when I want to horrify the neighbors, but there is more of Granny in me than I give myself credit for.  And giving myself credit for being the person I work so hard to be is not ego, and it is not bragging, and I will damn well remember that.  Stars is easy.  People is hard.