A lesson from “Shelly”

 

I remember my first girlfriend in college was a smart, pretty lady we’ll call Shelly.  I met Shelly in the music department at Pepperdine when I was doing a nighttime radio chow. We started dating and finding out more about each other, as people do at that phase in their lives.

 

One day, I remember just hanging out with her, and she started talking about the life we could have together. Me teaching martial arts, her teaching music.

 

It was a lovely dream.  I could easily see myself enjoying the cycles of life, learning, growing, helping people and growing closer to this lovely lady who shared my life–

 

**BRAKES ON**

 

Wait a minute…I didn’t want to be a professional martial arts instructor.   I didn’t know WHAT I wanted to be, but at that point in my life I knew that wasn’t it.  She DID know what she wanted, and that was being a music instructor, and being married.

 

Even though we were walking different paths, and eventually drifted apart, I remember that conversation, and how easy it was to drift into a lovely trance…

 

–of fulfilling my own dreams. (Being a martial artist, having a family)

 

–of a partner on the road of life (someone supportive of my dreams, but with her own destiny)

 

Because she had painted a picture of how things could be, rather than ask a direct question, I got to FEEL what that life could be. And had I known what I wanted, I might well have said: “well…not a martial arts instructor…but how would you feel about a writer?” And we might have laughed and dreamed together, and who knows?

 

That’s what storytelling does.  It slips past the filters, touches our hearts.

 

T and I just did an interview for a social activism podcast, asking questions about Black Panther.  What should people do to get ready for it, we were asked.  While we discussed the history of the character, the reasons for the excitement and the place of Afrofuturism within the broader category of science fiction, my real advice was: just go and have fun.

 

Yep.  If Ryan Coogler did his job right, you don’t have to consciously THINK about the component parts of the story to get the value, any more than you have to know the names of the macro and micronutrients in a dinner salad to get the nutrition. They are right there.  Enjoy.  Have fun.  Nourish your soul, or just release stress and get swept away for two hours.

 

But then, if you wish, go out with your friends afterward, have coffee and talk about the movie you just experienced.   Share your FEELINGS about it.

 

That’s building community.  Want to do more?  Become a more discerning consumer of film, patronizing those that support your values.

 

More? Teach others about the connection between myth and consciousness.   Use your knowledge of that connection in your own life, and with your family.

 

More?  How about creating your own stories, learning how to KEEP rapport with your audience (so they don’t “pop out” like I did!), singing your song, expressing your view of humanity, or the universe.  I know that I felt that if I sang MY song loudly enough, I would find another bird in the forest who was traveling in the same direction.

 

Shelly needed someone on a particular life path.  So did I.  And she did the smart thing: declare “here I am” and if I’d been the one, if I’d wanted such a path, I could have done far, far worse than that young lady. She kept telling her story, until she found a man who shared her dream, and they’ve been married all this time.

 

You can change your own life. Change the life of another.  Build a career.Change the world.

 

Myth is magic.   If you would like to learn more about the Lifewriting notion applied to the myth and fantasy of the African Diaspora, check out the AFROFUTURISM: DREAMS TO BANISH NIGHTMARES class at www.afrofuturismwebinar.com

 

 

And if you’d like to “merely” understand how writing can change lives…and life change your writing, join us at www.lifewritingpremium.com

 

 

Write and live with passion!

Steve

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