• Sigrid Ellis

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    Sigrid Ellis is co-editor of the Hugo-nominated Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She edits the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She is the flash-fiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, from Lightspeed Press. She edited the Hugo-nominated Apex Magazine for 2014. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.
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And, the world didn’t end.

CW: nuclear war and its related terrible things

I’ve talked about this before, I think. About how I grew up knowing — knowing — that the world would end in nuclear armageddon before I could turn thirty. I wasn’t particularly upset about it, it was just the reality of the situation. Nuclear war, nuclear winter, be grateful my family lived in a large city so I would go first. :shrugs:

I … I did not have a plan, really, for adulthood. I had never bothered to figure out what I wanted to do for a career, because I wouldn’t need one. I did not plan for having a spouse or children because, nuclear fire. As a kid I knew I could never rule out suicide as an option, because if by some terrible misfortune I lived through the initial strikes and counterstrikes, suicide before slow death by radiation sickness seemed extremely practical.

That was my adulthood plan. Live in a large city. Enjoy life. Die quickly.

Somewhere in my 20s, though, the world failed to end.

In this new era of nuclear threats and bluster, I am remembering that earlier time. And I am not repeating the mistakes I made when I was younger. Whether the world ends tomorrow or not doesn’t matter — we all still need a plan.

I mean, it makes rational sense to plan for a future of living, of having a family, of leaving a legacy to future generations. If the world *does* end, well, it’s not like you have lost *more*. You can’t lose more than “everything.” And if the world does NOT end, you will need a plan for living.

But I know why past-me did not plan. Because hope hurts. Hope hurts more than fear. Resignation was far easier, far less stressful. To plan for a thing means the possibility of losing the thing, and past-me just did not want to dwell on that. I greeted each new phase of my life with passive surprise. “Oh, we’re moving? Sure, okay. Oh, I’m going to boarding school? Sure, okay. Oh, it’s time for college? Sure, okay.” Not apathy, just … mild shock that we had all gotten this far. It did not stop bad dreams about nuclear war, but it made them all vaguely television-and-movie based rather than grounded in my own life.

It’s harder to keep hoping for a future than it is to resign one’s self to helplessness. But, this time around, I’m going to keep hoping.

Hope changes the future. Shapes it. Hope leads to wanting certain outcomes, to working for those outcomes. Hope gives us strength and courage, and, yes, fear. Hope makes us all try to create the future we want to live in. And doing makes it so.

Everyone handles fear differently. This approach may not work for you, and I merely give you a cordial fistbump as you do what you need to do for your own health and safety. But I am going to resist the fear, anger, and pride that the nuclear-armed world leaders appear to be promoting and keep planning for my life. Keep planning, keep working, keep hoping.

:fistbump:

Solidarity.

Resist.

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