“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”— Rabbi Shemuel ben Nachmani (among others, quoted by Anais Nin)
The “Lifewriting” approach to personal development, social change or writing is based upon aligning cultural and personal myths, our emotions, beliefs, values and actions, so that everything is moving in the same direction. Why is this necessary? Because that “Dark Night of the Soul” is coming, people. One way or another, you’re heading toward one right now, at freight-train speed. And the only way through it is Faith: faith in something deeper, larger, or stronger than your ego.
But if you put your faith in the wrong things, it will shatter your belief, embitter you. There is NOTHING more bitter than an optimist who has been betrayed once too often. How do you prevent this? By developing your faith in yourself, your own perceptions. Work through the b.s. until you hit bedrock, one step at a time. And it takes time. And sometimes you will experience things that conflict with “logic” and rationality, and you have to find a way to deal with it. When you do this, you will learn to calibrate your “trust”–know when and where and to whom to extend it, and err less often.
You can trust others to the exact degree that you can trust yourself to determine their trustworthiness.
One of the ways I deal with the odd things I’ve experienced is storytelling. I will never, ever tell how many of the things in my books represent actual experiences. You’d think me insane. That’s all right: I probably am. A friend of mine once said that
“Steve–you not only build dream castles, you treat them like vacation condos and move into them.”
Yeah, that’s me.
One event that changed my life, and that made its way into my latest novel, THE DEAD LIST, occurred about six years ago, and involves a quasi-encounter with what may be the most evolved soul I’ve ever encountered, the “Hug Guru” Amma. Let me make is clear: I’ve seen auras, but I can’t tell you whether an aura is something that exists on its own, or is a function of the perception of the viewer, a “complex equivalent” reifying complicated data sets into a complex if mystifying sensory input. A literary example: Sherlock Holmes picked up dozens of tiny clues and from them created an inductive/deductive conclusion about who an individual was, or what was likely to occur next. If he hadn’t explained his method (over and over again!) Watson would have thought Holmes a witch.
Imagine that your unconscious mind is capable of doing similar things, and giving you a simple symbol. A hundred small clues from a stranger that you simply feel as “creepy! Avoid!” or consider the thousand things you learn about someone with your first kiss. Wanna break all of that down into health, passion, emotions, technique, dietary patterns, cleanliness, mutual attraction, availability and more? Or do you just want to have the “yum” experience we all seek?
Doesn’t mean the other information isn’t there. Means that if you take time to sort through all of that, the “moment” is gone. Sometimes irretrievably: the mugger strikes. The potential lover turns away. The sales prospect slams the door.
Feelings, “hunches”, and perhaps visual and auditory and kinesthetic illusions fill the gap.
Of course, that’s the scientific part of my brain. It is on very, very good terms with the shaman/artist in my heart. And that part whispers: MAGIC EXISTS.
Yeah, I like that.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you exactly what happened with Amma, where it happened, and how it changed my life. But today, I ask you to look back over YOUR life, and find moments where something positive happened, something that defied logic. Logic, remember, is just a representational system. Life itself is far, far messier. And if you shut your doors to the “impossible” too much, you are assuming that all that is must be understandable by YOUR little brain. And unless you have a perfect record figuring out “what’s gonna happen next?” the infallibility of logic becomes a pretty illogical belief to hold, doesn’t it?
When you find those moments, they not only support your personal faith in a universe with more possibility than pain, but you will understand life and humanity differently, and that can power not only your personal story, or your ability to communicate with your children, spouse, or employees, but is the invisible glue within novels, screenplays, and stories. What I’m saying can’t quite be expressed directly–but yes, you can discover it for yourself, and the LIFEWRITING WORKSHOP is the best place I know to create this connection between your emotions and the world you perceive. Remember: we don’t see the world as it is. We see it as we are.
(and stay tuned for some real magic tomorrow!)
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