Degrees of Shock

We’ve all heard that there are degrees of shock.  Like any strong emotion, our brains seem incapable of handling the full dose all at once, so we’re forced to endure the entire range from one end of the spectrum to the other.  We draw it out far longer than what seems rational, yet we’re incapable of stopping it from running its course, using our own precious time against us.

Shock happens more readily in times of grief.  This form of it, at least, seems more apparent.  It’s all over the news and it’s probably something we’ve each had to deal with in our lives or have tried to help a friend through.  It’s easier to associate it with these negative, unfortunate events.  When the situation can bring either a single person or an entire nation to their knees in utter, mind-boggling disbelief.  The denial clenches at our hearts in some horrified fist of agony, rendering our muscles weak, our bones brittle and our minds useless.

Then there’s the spectator’s shock.  That moment when a celebrity, or even a perfect stranger on the street, does something that can silence an entire room at the drop of a hat.  Even the crickets are afraid to chirp and there seems to be a collective, telepathic question thickening the air, demanding to know “WHAT IN THE HELL WAS THAT???!!!”

But what about when something extraordinary happens?  Winning the lottery; finding a long-lost relative for whom they’ve been searching; discovering a lost city; locating sunken treasure or… opening their e-mail to find an acceptance letter from a publisher, instead of the rejection they were eacceptedxpecting, dreading, praying against.

SHOCK, is what happens.  It’s instantaneous and it’s born with those blunt-edged teeth of degrees, each one waiting to “thunk” you on the head without warning.  The process between getting accepted by a publisher and the very moment your baby – your precious creation of pages that holds the entire lives of your characters – is published for sale, is soooooooooooo verrrrrrrrrrry loooooooooooooong.  You would think that that gives shock plenty of time to run around until it’s too tired to keep a hold of you anymore.

Oh, no.  No, no, no.  For every time something new comes about within that long process; every time you’re reminded that its actually happening, your dreams are coming true, it feels just like the moment when you first opened that acceptance e-mail.  It hits you all over again, the shock rejuvenated.  Dancing with glee, pointing its crooked little fingers at you and laughing its ass off.

“And just think,” It delights. “You still have another 12 months to go!”

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