From: Bunny Batzri
Subject: Balancing acts.
Today's question comes from SHAYNE MADHU out of Eildon, who asks me:
"How you balance Sidhe-business worries and cares with Fae job of being a Dream and sharing joy?"
Capitalization is hers. Inherent assumptions are hers as well, since I can't insert them in someone else's question. Let's begin.
I need to note that I'm going to need to take this question apart before I can answer it, because as it stands now, it's too full of suppositions and stereotypes for me to address it in anything resembling a 'fair' manner. Now, there are those who would say that I never address anything in a 'fair' manner -- my politics color every word I write, whether I want them to or not -- and I would have to admit that there's a certain amount of personal opinion in even the most forcefully neutral statement. That said, I have a few issues with the way this question was posed.
First off, there is the immediate issue of the phrase 'job of being a Dream and sharing joy'. I don't feel that the two parts of this statement are genuinely connected. The 'job of being a dream' doesn't necessarily mean sharing joy; sharing joy is a wonderful goal, but you don't have to be a dream to do it. Also, for a moment, let's assume that the Dreaming is really as stereotypical as some people seem to want it to be. As far as the Dreaming is concerned, sidhe exist to rule, eshu exist to wander, redcaps exist to devour and sluagh exist to disturb. Where, in this mess of stereotypes, do we find 'sharing joy' as part of the job description? There are some dreams for whom sharing joy isn't just outside their normal duties, it's actually anathema to their very existence. Share joy, lose your grip on the dream that made you, die.
And that's just the pure base-line stereotypes. What happens when you get a little further into the details? I, for example, would not classify myself as a dream of joy. If anything, I'm a dream of duty and information. Do I always bring joy when I open my mouth? No. As a point of fact, half the time, I'm hiding behind my big shiny Do Not Kill the Messenger sign, because it's the only way to keep people from beating the crap out of me. For me, spending all my time 'sharing joy' would actually be Banal and painful, and probably result in my taking all my repressed anger to an early grave.
I also have to object, mildly, to the phrase 'job of being a dream'. I'm sorry, but no. Being fae is not my job. Being a lady is my job; answering these questions is my job; being a good person, yeah, that's a job too. But being fae? Not a job. Being a dream? Not a job. That's just what I AM. I am female, blonde, fae. I could get a sex change, or dye my hair, or be Undone, but the possibly transitory nature of these things doesn't make them any less valid. So, all of that said...I DON'T balance sidhe-business worries and cares with the fae job of 'being a dream' and 'sharing joy', because I DON'T feel that being fae is a job, or that I am in any way compelled to share joy.
Now that I've shredded the original question beyond all recognition, I'm going to try rephrasing it into something that I CAN answer fairly. Here:
"How do you balance the concerns of being a ruler with the need to avoid Banality?"
That's somewhat easier to address, and part of the answer is, unfortunately, 'you don't'.
'Sidhe-business' -- or, in the less kith-stereotypical way of putting it, simply ruling a fiefdom -- means that you have responsiblities that people who aren't in a position of power don't have to deal with. Yes, you get the good toys and the comfy chair, and that's great, but you're also the one who gets called at three in the morning when one of your knights is killed. You have to plan the Wakes and dole out the punishments and deal with the paperwork, and in the end, that can wear you down. Old rulers tend to stay in their Freeholds all the time, and that's not because they want to be insular; it's because the world has become too much to bear. The sidhe feel that weight more than most do -- it's the price of being what we are -- but it gets to everyone, in the end.
How do we avoid it? The way anyone avoids being worn down until there's nothing left. The ways that I recommend for everyone and anyone underneath the sun:
Laugh. Laugh a little every day, to remind yourself that you can. Dance, even when you're sure you look stupid. Sing like there's nobody listening. Love like you'll never get hurt. Fingerpaint your driveway and go to the movies and have intellectual debates about things you don't quite understand. Make new friends. Spend time with old friends. Go to a wine tasting in Napa, take a ride on a tandem bicycle with your boyfriend, take your girlfriend to the top of a mountain and give new names to every single star. If you don't have kids of your own, borrow a niece or nephew and take them to a carnival. Eat junk food and prepare gourmet meals, draw charcoal portraits of falling stars. Write poetry, write novels, learn to fold paper roses, play 'Space Invaders' until you see aliens in your sleep. In short, remember that life is full of good things, and whatever those good things are for you -- if everything I've suggested seems utterly twee, but a good Clive Barker novel and a trip to the wax museum would fulfill your needs -- you should do them. Stay connected to the good parts of life, because that's what's going to get you through the bad ones.
No ruler -- no GOOD ruler, anyway -- can avoid the cold, Banal parts of running a fiefdom, because if you avoid them completely, you're not a good ruler. At best you're a bad one, and at worst, you're a figurehead for someone who can use your name to say whatever they like. What we can do is make sure we have things to hold onto when the frost comes down. Our lives are never careless, but they can still be fulfilling.
I am now going to go and avoid Banality and share joy by licking gummi bears and sticking them to my boyfriend's face while he sleeps.
C'mon, SOMEONE had to say it!