Advice Disguised as a Story

Conscientious InconsistenciesI have been thinking about the current conflict within science fiction a lot this week, but the ideas I have on it refuse to jell into a readable blog post. That may be just as well, since so many people are weighing in. Instead, I decided to post a flash fiction that appears in two of my collections, Conscientious Inconsistencies and Flashes of Illumination.

This is a story written in aphorisms. I’ve never decided if it’s fantasy or science fiction. I think the advice I offer to the hero applies to both. Readers may also find it useful. It might even be helpful in addressing the current conflict.

Thirty-One Rules for Fulfilling Your Destiny

  1. You are blessed with a destiny, but it will not be given to you as a matter of right. It must be dreamed, desired, sought after, fought for, understood, and accepted.
  2. It is likely you will fail to fulfill your destiny. Nevertheless, you must live as if you will succeed, risking everything: life, health, money, love.
  3. Along your path you will find many teachers and mentors. Some will choose you; others will ignore you until you demand their guidance. Listen carefully to these teachers, but remember their destinies are not yours. When the time comes, leave them behind.
  4. Other people will try to block your destiny. The most difficult obstacles will be presented not by your enemies, but by your family, who will want you to follow the vocation of their dreams, acquire the comfortable life, and provide them with grandchildren.
  5. An ill-timed pregnancy can keep you from attaining your destiny.
  6. War is one of the greatest evils created by humankind. It is also a crucible in which you can forge yourself to reach your destiny.
  7. When you set out to follow the way of the warrior, do not disguise yourself as a man. The way of the warrior is not restricted to men.
  8. The male way of warriorship has been defined for thousands of generations. It is possible that there is a female way of warriorship. Think on these things, but not when your enemies are attacking.
  9. A warrior protects the people from the monsters, be they human, animal, magical, alien, imaginary, or even the people themselves.
  10. You must learn to fight without giving in to fear, but if you refuse to acknowledge fear it will betray you at the most inauspicious moment.
  11. You must master the physical arts of war, but if you refuse to learn strategy and rely on fighting ability alone, you will not survive to find your destiny.
  12. There are times when killing is necessary. These times are more infrequent than has been commonly assumed.
  13. There are times when saving the life of your enemy is required. These times are more numerous than anyone has ever suspected.
  14. Killing is not the only method for defeating your enemies. The most successful way to defeat enemies is to make them your friends.
  15. The lessons of war will prove useful as you move into politics, but the subtleties will change. You must learn new rules of engagement to survive the political life.
  16. Behave with honor. Treat everyone with respect. Trust no one. Betrayal occurs more often in politics than in war.
  17. The time will come when all the choices before you require breaking your word. Make the decision that the situation demands, not the one that allows you to avoid betraying a friend. A person of power is obligated to the people she leads, not the people she loves.
  18. No matter how many monsters you defeat, more will appear.
  19. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.
  20. You can make all the right choices and still lose badly. And no one ever makes all the right choices.
  21. When everything that matters in your life has been destroyed and ground to dust, you have two choices: You can die or you can begin anew. Only you can decide which you will do.
  22. Approach rebuilding your destiny with humility. The truly humble cannot be humiliated.
  23. You will find it necessary to refight battles you thought already won. Do so without complaint.
  24. When reached, your destiny may look very different than it did when you first began your journey. Do not be deceived. It is still your destiny.
  25. No matter how powerful you become, you will still be forced to make difficult choices, to protect yourself from intrigues, and to do battle with monsters.
  26. Fulfilling your destiny will not make you safe or comfortable. It may not even make you happy.
  27. Do not let the magicians or the scientists make you immortal. You are human and humans die. Any effort to live past your natural time will destroy your soul and with it your humanity.
  28. Do not be deceived by those who would make you a god. If taking on the name of God is a good strategic decision, accept the title humbly. But do not believe it yourself. Godhood is not your destiny.
  29. You will not know if what you build survives your death, but you must wield power as if it will.
  30. Death ends your story. What comes after belongs to someone else.
  31. Break all rules, including these.




Advice Disguised as a Story — 6 Comments