kira leigh


welcome to the weird wide web


It's vital to be yourself, but what if "yourself" is too much? What if there's no easy answer? No one-word label, career description, genre? Then you risk being indefinable. But only for those who don't know much about how much a person can be. And living in that brutal simplicity is really very boring, honestly.

Is it pointless to think people can change?
I wonder, gazing out at the unfiltered internet thoughts of millions, which of them could be inconvenienced for a mere moment. Which of them could change their habit of comfort just to do something good.

When I was very young, a couple of girls fell through the ice of my rural neighborhood pond. Formed by a glacier, the center of the pond was such an abyss that even a telephone booth lived beneath its murky depths. There used to be a concrete road or dock across it. You'd find chunks of street down there. When I heard the girls screaming, I worried I'd find chunks of girls if I waited too long.

In a split second, I rushed to the waterfront. Barely five foot even—and with the muscle mass of a pool noodle—I knew I didn't have the heft to dig people out of New England ice. Furthermore, I had homework. Yes, this was a real thought, because I was a child. Moreover, when I noticed where they'd cracked the ice, I realized they'd made it to the shallows where the waterlilies bloom in spring. They were hardly in jeopardy, and on second glance, one of the girls was tall enough to dredge both of them through the calf-deep water. The problem?

The taller girl was a much older teen named Cindy*. Cindy had MS. Cindy also had the mind of a seven year old. Instantly, I was the responsible adult. I rushed back home, called 911, gathered up blankets and was stopped by my father.

He asked me what'd happened, and I'd said something like "girls fell through the ice, called 911!" I can't remember all the details, but I do remember the look on his face, his body language, what all this said about me, and what all this said about him, too.


It took the fire fighters arriving for local adult men to get off their asses and help local girls stuck in a not-so-dangerous scenario. Local girls, screaming at the top of their lungs, in a rural neighborhood with no street traffic. Adults were slow to act and I didn't understand why until many years later. They thought someone else would handle it. Taking action was an inconvenience.

This moment in time is what defines me as a person. The quick-thinking, willingness to launch the circumference of a pond, the right call, the right stuff, and the acute awareness of the inaction grown adults could fall into. But is what I did something most people are capable of doing?

I ask myself this often. Sitting in my home with a cat on my lap at the ripe old age of 35, I wonder how many people would act to save a life without waiting for others to make a move. I wonder, gazing out at the unfiltered internet thoughts of millions, which of them could be inconvenienced to try. Which of them could change their habits just to do something good. 

Who could share a sandwich with a peer if both were starving? Who could throw a rock at a cop who was about to shoot a man? Who could rush across snowy sands to save girls stuck in ice? And which of them have refused to do so when they could have, just because it required one small change?

These questions plague me, and not just for moral reasons reasons. With the data-analytics chops of any tech business fuckweasel, I have insight into online activities in ways that would melt your brain. The data I have on people changing their habits, let alone taking direct action for anything at all, is damning. 

Though I do believe most people wish to be good, desire to change for the better, and imagine they can perform small acts of heroism, most people choose comfort. That sounds very uncharitable, but after a life lived walking strange roads with even stranger skills, I know it to be true.

Finally, I know that although change is one of the only constants of the universe, change is very hard for most people. Especially if they're comfortable adults living their lives, imagining a miraculous hero will instantly appear, make the first move, and save a life.

It is very hard to change habits of comfort and convenience. It's very hard to form a new pattern when you don't even know your old ones exist, which is true for most people. It's very hard to inconvenience yourself, to do one selfless act, in a selfish world that refuses to change. But I still have to believe it's possible.

Even as I pen this bitter piece and stare at stacks of damning data, I still write science fiction books about self-evolution, change and messy heroes. I know it's possible for people to be kinder, to evolve, to act. I know it's possible to change your mind from "I've gotta do homework" to "I've gotta do something."

I'd rather believe there are more people out there like me than the data suggests. Sleeping, perhaps. Sleeping, waiting for a sign, waiting to be told they are more-than already. Waiting to be told that change is just a single choice made each day until it sticks, then stacks. Waiting to believe they have the power to do something awesome. Waiting to believe that they're the hero they're looking for.

You don't have to wait anymore. You know that, right?

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