I am still in Limbo.

It occurred to me –as a result of this and of the collection of Keith Laumer stories and books I was reading – how people continue with a facade of normality even when things are shot to hell.  It is both noble and bizarre – -often at the same time.  It’s a coping mechanism which is hard to understand from the outside. It’s not that sane from the inside I might say.

It is how places like Mogadishu continue to function at all. It is how doomed sailors stay at their posts doing their jobs. It is how the band plays while the Titanic is sinking.

It’s how people carry on, in what might sometimes seem like a caricature of normalcy in the face of loss and devastation. Not everyone does, of course…  just enough of the human race to make it a very human characteristic. Maybe, it is because normality can thus be returned, at least to a degree. Maybe it is just because we don’t know what else to do.

Millions upon millions of us are going through the rituals of day to day life, of civilization, although nations disintegrate around us, or our own lives are falling apart. 

The Laumer collection I am reading plainly dates from an era when the cold war and mutually assured destruction were very much part of the zeitgeist.  When, if we survived that, Malthusian disaster (and the coming ice age) where considered a virtual certainty (there are several stories set around both). You have to look at the current ‘absolute truths’ of Woke-ism and global warming and wonder just how our stories will read to a future generation.

The other thing that struck, fairly pointedly, was that it doesn’t really matter if it is a left wing utopia or a right wing utopia (Laumer would, at least by today’s standards, right.)… imposed utopias all suck. Curiously Laumer was suggesting something akin to google, facebook, twitter et al’s attempt at social engineering. Directing society…  He fondly imagined it would work. I less fondly imagine that unless all people are clones and moulded into identical widgets, one man’s utopia, would be another man’s hell. 

My utopia would have lots of space and the governance of utopia would leave me alone, as long as I left them alone, and others alone.  I was reading a commentary on the breakups of nations (with reference to the situation in the US where increasingly the country is very divided. It was all very well saying how separation, once unthinkable, was becoming more attractive. Yeah. Well that’s different people’s utopia, see. One lot just want to be left alone. The other lot wouldn’t be in utopia if they couldn’t make other people do what they had decided was good for them.

In the meanwhile we continue the rituals of normalcy. I’m picking fruit and drying it for a tomorrow I am not sure we have. If regular life will resume. But if it does somehow work out… At least my gastro-intestinal tract will be regular.

Let’s hope and pray we can push through. And in the meanwhile: Drink tea. It’s not utopia, but its a comforting ritual of normality.

Image by dungthuyvunguyen from Pixabay


  1. I have experienced several of those moments when it seems the world has been altered beyond repair. Somehow, I have managed to just keep breathing- so far. And yes, a cuppa sometimes gives me the “it’s not everything that’s gone” reassurance that gave me the ability to not fall apart just yet. Just so you know, I’ve been praying for you and your wife. Being stuck in the maw of the beast is not too comfortable. Hope it resolves in your favor swiftly.

  2. Personally, when not editing one of the highnesses new releases or reprints I have been working through the Freehold series by Mad Mike Williamson. For some odd reason it’s not taking me much suspension of disbelief to imagine a unified paternalistic socialist Earth actively seeking to destroy the society of a planet that appears successful with their implementation of a very libertarian alternative culture.

  3. Yes. I read this while drinking my morning cup of tea. As long as I have that cup, the day is not a total loss.

  4. Often, when life gets like that-work is insane, home is even worse-it is that comfort of small routines that keeps us from completely going mental. I know that when things get bad for me, I’ll take my car into the car wash and clean it. Wash, vacuum, clean up everything. It is one of the few things that is in my control, and I take as much control as I can. So, enjoy the small routines-they help when everything else goes bad.

  5. Hot tea in the evenings. Wearing long skirts and petticoats.. Writing bits of fiction, where I control [stop laughing, Muse!] events to an extent. Those are some of my ways of asserting a hint of control. And prayer, some rote prayers, others more free-form.

  6. Maybe things are spinning out of control elsewhere, but I can still enjoy tea, or a sunset, or making the sidewalk become clean and safe again. It would be ungrateful not to.

  7. Maintaining a semblance of normality is keeping a form of control. It’s so much more useful than running around in circles, screaming and shouting.

    You might want to reread Agatha Christie’s novel, N or M? While she wrote contemporaries, she didn’t normally explicitly tie them to the world around her.

    This one is a Tommy and Tuppence and those novels were tied to their time. Agatha wrote it in 1941, in London, during the Blitz and after Dunkirk. The U.S. was months away from Pearl Harbor. The thread of anxiety and fear lacing through the novel is unmistakable. No one knew what the next day, week, month, or year would bring.

    Following normal routines, along with prayer and faith, helps us to cope.

    Best wishes to you and your wife and your family.

  8. > Laumer … facade of normality

    “The House in November” or “A Plague of Demons” or “The Ultimax Man” or several of his short stories…

    > coping … not that sane

    As opposed to what?

    When “personal ability to influence things” is off the table, your options basically come down to a) dramatic last stand, b) wait and see what happens, c) meltdown, or d) join up with the enemy.

  9. *hugs* You’re still alive, I’m still alive, our spouses are still alive. Everything else, one day at a time. If you can’t manage that, four hours at a time. Or one hour. Or just the next minute. Or the next few seconds…

    Sometimes, the ritual of tea is that it is the one thing in our world we can control. That we can do.

    Still praying for good news.

  10. The people who are capable of those coping mechanisms are the ones who survive. They’re the ones who are able to keep on moving and continue functioning – and eventually are prepared to face tomorrow.

    Been praying for you, my friend. *hugs*

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