12-21-2016 – My Struggle

Every beloved story has an element of darkness. I can still vaguely remember the terrible scenes that played on my mind’s eye as I read through The Lord of the Rings. I can remember even more clearly the horror as I read through Harry Potter. Then I relived some of that when I saw these movies in the theater. Some of the things I have read and seen seem to be obsessed with the darkness.

Even when a story, on page or on screen, has a “good” ending, I somehow find myself feeling that the losses on the way to the conclusion are too great. Dumbledore’s death in Harry Potter, the elves leaving for the west in The Lord of The Rings, the destruction of the D’ni people in Myst. Nothing can make up for what has been lost. No matter how evil the “bad guy” was, how desperately I needed him or her to be annihilated, nothing makes up for all those I loved in the course of the story who gave or lost their lives, and sometimes, things even more valuable. Priceless even.

I desperately want to write an epic story like one of these I have enjoyed over the years. Mostly enjoyed anyway. I don’t want to copy anyone else, I want to be true to myself in my writing. And even though I feel I am a writer on par with the best out there, I am under no delusions that I could be anything more then almost as good, or maybe, just maybe, just as good. I have no designs to excel those writers who have gone before me. I will let my readers judge me, and they will have a hard time doing that if I don’t getting something written of publishable length. So that is my main focus. I am not even worried about whether or not I will be published. I just know I will be, but I have to write something that can be published first. It is this quest at which I have, so far, utterly failed.

I perceive many obstacles in my writing path, and one of the biggest, I think, is this stubborn tendency I have to leave out the darkness. I can certainly include it. I am not incapable of doing so. But I have this strange and silly desire to write something different. An adventure that is all about the thrill of exploration, just the bright, happy things. All the magical elements I loved in Harry Potter. All the positive aspects of the wondrous D’ni, their ability to create entire worlds. But I fear this is an impossible task I have set for myself. Sisyphus pushing that damn rock up the hill, never getting anywhere.

Every story I have started in this way has died at childbirth, never living more than a couple of chapters. A well respected writer and teacher of fiction writing, in a book of hers I am studying, tells me that I must have conflict. That conflict is integral to a story. Indeed I can see conflict in every story I have ever read and loved. I can’t think of a single memorable story, or even an unmemorable one, without it. Also the only stories I have been able to complete, just short ones so far, have had conflict, and darkness, within them.

It seems there must always be a “good guy” and a “bad guy.” A hero and a villain. The antagonist and the protagonist. Sprinkle in some characters with no particular allegiance to the light or dark, just pursuing their own ends, and you have a variety that fools the reader into thinking the story has more beyond good VS evil. But every tale ever told or brought to the screen, as far as I am aware anyway, has had this duality at its root. Can a story without duality even be written? If it could, would anyone read it? Be moved or transformed by it?

My heart wants to find the way, but my head, logic, dictates that I should just stick with what works. Use the same old tired formula man has used since time immemorial, start and complete something I can publish, edit it like a gem worker polishing a precious stone, and then claw and fight my way into the publishing world, which hungers for new writers of things like Harry Potter, yet at the same time does not want them. The marketplace is too crowded. Nobody buys books anymore, there is no money in it as an author, agent or publisher.

All I have to do is write a good VS evil story that captures the imagination of young and old, or at least has the potential to do so, and eventually, if I am persistent, if I have edited it enough, if I am lucky enough, someone, somewhere, will read it, be moved by it, and publish it. I am like a young man in high school playing football, hoping the man over there, hiding behind a tree, is a scout for a local professional team. Or a dancer hoping that she has moved gracefully enough to get a position in the company. As a society we make these things far more difficult than they should be. We should be able to pursue or dreams and passion without limitation. We should see a clear open path ahead of us, not a bunch of fucking hoops we have to jump through. It’s almost as if we have to pay a price to be anything other than some wage slave at some menial job somewhere.

When we tell others we want to be artists, authors, dancers, musicians or singers mostly they just laugh. Some may only shake their heads. A handful may actually silently encourage us while doing so. Even less may openly encourage us. We are treated as if what we want to do is too easy, therefore it is childish, foolish and immature to pursue it. But it is actually easier to get a job at your local McDonalad’s than it is to write a book, much less become a published author, and even less become a successful published author. We should be pushed to pursue or dreams and passions, not some unwanted position at an unwanted job, working for someone else.

I am fortunate that I have no naysaying voices surrounding me. Just a few I encounter in the written word. I struggle enough just to write something, just to find an idea and pursue it to its conclusion. This is where I find myself even now, in this moment, as I write this. I have started another story. And I will include the good VS evil duality. I will include conflict. Copious amounts of it. But still there is this fear, this worry, that this story, like all the other seemingly healthy babies before it, will die in its crib, never growing to maturity, a completed story.

Also my heart is not entirely in it, because this is not the way I want to write a story. But I have at least come to understand that it is the way it must be written, because I have to complete at least one take of publishable length, in order to have that experience of completing something, which will forever silence the whispering voices inside of me. Once I have done it I will always know I can. Nothing can shake that faith. But I have to do it first.

Then maybe, someday, I can tell the tale I want to tell. Maybe. But I doubt it. Why does the one thing I have any penchant for at all have to be so hard? Why do I dislike so much this one thing I can do so well? I don’t know. I have no answers. Maybe I will find them someday. Maybe they will be waiting for me at the end of the story my heart wants to write. If I live to see that day, maybe then I will finally understand.

 

It Is Time To Open

In doing things that we think of as requiring ability, skill or talent to do, we are like a flower. Some of us may bloom part way, never quite committing to our fullest potential. Some of us, while budded, may look around at others who have bloomed, and assume we can not bloom as beautifully, so we don’t even try. But how can we know what is inside of us unless we open and allow it to come out?

There is no ability, skill or talent to our blooming. Everyone is a flower, everyone can bloom, everyone has beauty inside that they can let out. Everyone has their own unique inner color and form. Nobody has a better color or a better form. We might perceive the blooming of another to be more beautiful in comparison to another or ourselves. We would refer to such a person as having ability, skill or talent. But that comparison exists only in our perception.

To whatever or whoever we call God, who walks among us and is the energy inside us that connects us all to each other, we are all, each and every one of us, bloomed or not, loved, exactly as we are. Whoever or whatever we call God does not love the ones we perceive to be beautiful more. Whoever or whatever we call God does not love the ones we perceive to be ugly less. When we see ourselves as beautiful or ugly, as having ability, skill or talent, or not, whoever or whatever we call God does not see this. Because whoever or whatever we call God knows exactly what we have inside.

When you approach something that really compels you, really draws you, really interests or speaks to you – something you have always wanted to do, something you may have enjoyed doing in the past, something you feel you would enjoy doing now, maybe even something you enjoy doing – that is the right time to throw out all your beliefs about ability, skill or talent. That is a good time to allow yourself to do whatever this is to your fullest potential to do so, in your own unique way.

For me there are two things that fit this description. Drawing and singing. What is it you hear about both of these? That you have to practice a lot, that you have to train yourself, right? Also that there are these things called ability, skill or talent, and that you have to have one of these draw or sing. It is easy to justify the belief in these things. If I sat down and tried to draw something I would think of as beautiful and technically proficient, in other words, if I were to sit down and try to create a drawing that would look photo realistic (photo realism being the ideal of perfection) but only managed to do something simple, maybe a step up from a stick figure, I would assume (and most would say correctly) that I have no ability, skill or talent for drawing. Or, if these others are a little nicer (or they want money from me) they would tell me something like, “All you need is training. Practice drawing every day and you will get better!”

This is what usually happens when us flowers converse among each other. When we are younger we draw to the best of our ability. But as we get older and continue to draw the same way be come to believe we can not draw. When we are younger we sing and we don’t care who is listening or how we sound. As we grow older, if we are lucky not to have others criticizing us, we hear ourselves and are not happy that we don’t sound like our favorite singer, our idol, at the time. In both cases we give up. It is always due to criticism, from others, from ourselves, or from others and ourselves. We never allow ourselves to draw or sing as beautifully and uniquely as only we can. We never fully open, never showing our inner beauty to others, never allowing the light outside to come in. It is only in openness that the light can come into us, and it is only in openness that we can show our unique beauty and form. It is only when we are fully open that we can do that thing we want so desperately to do to the fullest of our ability, in our own unique way.

What I have been doing, after reading, “Illusions” by Richard Bach (in reference to when Shimoda picks up the guitar at the hardware store) is allowing myself to draw. I used to say to my highest ability, but I see the belief systems embedded there now, so I think a better way to say it is to my fullest potential. Or I could keep it simple, I am allowing myself to draw. There is this desire however that has me wanting to draw masterfully. I can already draw. I am not happy with my drawing at this point. I assume that I am not allowing myself to draw to my fullest extent or potential. I believe, still, that practice and training are required to draw what I would call well. But, to paraphrases Shimoda, “Then that is exactly how it will be.”

If I believe I must practice and train myself to open fully to my drawing, and my singing, if I believe it must be hard, that I must work for it, as society and the world, for the most part, says it does, then I will have to practice and train to get better. It will be hard, it will be work, I will have to work at it. Also, there is a limit to what I can do, based on the concepts of ability, skill and talent. My vocal range can only go so far. Any singing teacher would tell me this. I could go to a doctor and get a professional opinion regarding it. It seems logical, it must be right. Right?

Wrong. It is all only what I call an “apparent reality.” The “real world” is an illusion, and all “apparent reality” is a part of that illusion. It is reality as defined by the perceptions, collectively and individually, of others. Of the majority, in most cases. It is called reality because, “It has always been that way” or “It as been that way for as long as I can remember” or because “That was how I have been taught” or because “I have a degree that says it is so” on and on it goes. But no reality is really real, it is only apparently real, only as real as we collectively and individually choose it to be. Another possible reality is that everyone can draw or sing, regardless of ability, skill or talent, and without any prating or training.

We live in dualism, which means that if one reality exists, so does its opposite. If there is a reality where we have to learn to draw and sing, where we have to practice it to get better, and we are limited by ability, skill or talent, then there has to exist another reality where none of this is true. You can’t get around it. If you believe in good then evil also exists for you. No matter how much you may deny it. Where one thing exists, so exists its opposite, this is the law of dualism. Where there is something you love, there also exists something you hate. Where there is something you desire, there also exists something you do not desire.

Richard Bach demonstrates this beautifully and simply by his character Shimoda, picking up the guitar, and playing it in such a way we would define it as beautifully or skillfully. But Shimoda had never played a guitar before in his life. He had no ability, skill or talent, no practicing or training. He wanted to play, so he picked up the guitar and allowed himself to play. This is what I am doing in regards to my drawing. What I will do in regards to singing. I am allowing myself to do it, and gently but persistently removing any beliefs to the contrary. I am determined to open fully, to no longer be partly open. To allow myself to do all the things I have always wanted to do, whatever they are.

Why do we choose to believe that we must have ability, skill or talent? That we have to practice and receive training in order to do well? Does a flower need ability, skill or talent to open? Does a flower have to practice openness? Does a flower have to be trained how to be open? No. Flowers open naturally. In fact nothing could be more natural for a flower. It is the same for us. Our opening is just as natural to us as our breathing. We have no more need for ability skill, talent, to practice or be trained, to open than we need them to breathe.

I am already doing this in my writing. Although you could argue that I have always had a natural penchant for it, that I have always been good at it, that I have been writing for years so I have a lot of practice, all that would produce is technically perfect writing. It is writing most people would look at all think of as good. But it is not easy, flowing, natural writing. It is not writing would contain all my unique beauty and form. It is not writing from inside of me, maybe a natural flow from my Higher Self through me.

Maybe the difference is not detectable. Maybe only you, the reader, will notice any sort of change. But on my end I can tell you the writing I am doing right now, in this moment, feels better. It feels higher somehow. It feels more free and open somehow. That is writing coming from a full blooming, a full blossoming of my expression through words. Allowing the light to come in and go out from my unique beauty and form.

This is how I wish to draw and sing. This is how I wish to do everything that I have even the remotest interest in. From dancing to barefoot running. Whatever it is I want to do, I wish to do it from a state of full openness. It is this state of full openness I seek to, that I wish to, guide you towards. Somehow, I don’t know how (and the how is not my business anyway) I will do so.

It is time for a new way to teach, not a teaching that implies others must be trained. Not a teaching that requires training. But a teaching that guides, a teaching that brings a remembering, because you all already know everything I have said to you here. At some level, deep inside, even though you may choose to ignore it or may not recognize it, you can feel the validity of everything I have said to you here. You are beginning to remember, and in that remembering, you will open.

So the kind of teaching I wish to do is a guiding to your opening, in the familiar guise or role of a teacher. Someone you may see as having great ability, skill or talent, showing you how a thing such as drawing is done. But I would have no great experience, no professional training. I would not be practicing every day. I would simply be expressing myself through drawing, whenever the desire for expression comes to me, and allowing myself to do so to my fullest potential, fully open, in my own unique way.

That is the goal, if I was one to set goals, and in general, I am not. It would be more accurate to call this commitment, right now, in this present moment, I am committing to doing this, setting the intention to do this. I the meantime I will continue to apply it to my own life, and work through the beliefs that create resistance between me and the fulfillment of my desires and intentions.

Follow Your Bliss

I have a few things I would like to do here. First of all a huge thank you and blessing for all that helped my body heal from whatever it was it was fighting.

Secondly I am excited to report that I have had a breakthrough today! This morning I woke up and started on my three morning pages as assigned by Julie Cameron in her book, “The Sound of Paper” I realized something. That I Am An Artist.

I guess I have always denied this. I remember seeing the drawings of my cousin Shadow, and the work of his brother Chris. I remember seeing work by a friend and mentor named Jepson. I remember my mom’s work on her piece of music. Maybe I thought there was no room for me, or that I wasn’t a good as them, or something.

I have also been at war with myself. Obviously I have the ability to write. I did try to get published, but when I discovered the 80,000 word minimum for fiction, and after I received rejection letters for everything I submitted, I sort of gave up. I guess I like telling stories. I like sharing things that I have learned. But I never really saw myself as a writer. Maybe I thought that life wasn’t exciting enough or special enough or something? I think also with the whole artist thing in general I was plagued with doubts. You read how few artists are ever wealthy or successful. I have this other dream in my mind to design and help build my own house. Obviously I have to have a lot of money to do that.

It has been a struggled. I was raised by and am surrounded by limit-minded people. That is my parents, as much as I love them. have built-in poorness programming, installed in them from their own parents, at least on my dad’s side. I am not sure they even want to be rich. But I do. They also believe in limits and lack. I do not. But I received the same programming they did, and I have been in the process, especially during the last few years, started with ACN, of changing those internal instructions. Still it is very hard to have a mindset that runs contrary to everyone else’s around you. It’s especially difficult when you go to a Sangha after yoga class and the instructor asks you essentially what you’re doing with your life.

But finally a breakthrough this morning. The peace I had afterwards, and the immediate effect it has had on me, words don’t really do justice. Suffice it to say I dug out an old computer carrying case and made my own artist portfolio, complete with handmade cardboard pencil holders. Even I was impressed by the unusually good engineering I was able to do. It’s as if a huge dam has broken and crumbled. I have decided to, “Follow my bliss…”, do what I enjoy doing, and trust the Source to provide. I released all the old beliefs I had, mindsets, everything. No worries about making enough money to have the life I want to have. All things are possible and I am connected to the source of all resources, wealth included. How can I ever be poor?

Now I am looking forward to my next drawing time. Spending what funds I have for my artistic needs. Just got a cheap little Sumi brush collection so I can play with automatic, expressive drawing. I know that rendering is not my specialty, but I am OK with that. Working at any art will strengthen all artistic muscles. I Am a computer artist (level design, modeling, textures), and a sketch/drawing artist, and a writer (poetry, non-fiction instructional articles, short stories.) I find my niche, wherever it is. I Am Awake to who I truly am, hence the saying I posted before this.

Do not deny who you really are. You truly do know, just as I did. It was not so much a realization but a ceasing of hiding the truth from, of deceiving myself. I knew I was an artist. I have said I Am an Artist before. But my heart was not in it. Even now I picture that dragon Shadow drew years ago and I am tempted to compare. I ignore the evidence hanging here on my wall that I can draw just as well. The only thing I lack is patience. But that is OK too. It will also come with the practice of what I enjoy doing, my art. Find what you enjoy doing and do it. Even if you have a family make that priority number 1.

But you have to be sure that it is truly your thing. I distracted myself by buying a guitar telling myself I always wanted to play it. But I am a lyricist and possibly a singer. Not a guitar player. I have more fun with my packing tape frame drum. Once you wake up to the truth, once you allow yourself to do that, once you know for sure, go after it. It may impact your family and dependents negative in the short run. But if you trust whatever you call God to provide for you, if you are doing what you love to do, things will work out, and it will be better for you and your loved ones in the long run.

I can’t claim that things will be easy. But they will be worth working hard for. Can you say that about what you are doing right now? If not you are living a lie. You really are violating one of the 10 commandments. You are bearing false witness. To yourself and to whatever or whoever you call God. You were not made to fall in love, get married, and have a family. Nor were you made to flip hamburgers, wash toilets, runs items across a scanner, lug boxes around, or drive all over the country.

There is something that speaks to you. You ignored this voice for so long you can’t hear it any more. But it is still there, waiting for you to hear it again. That voice is telling you what you love to do, what you most enjoy, and if there is any dream, any purpose to anyone’s life, it is to pursue that thing, whatever it is, with reckless abandonment. No excuses, no exceptions, I don’t care what your life circumstances may be! It is in ignoring that voice that you slowly destroy yourself and suffer the consequences of your actions. It is not karma, justice or punishment. It is just cause and effect. If you are not doing what you enjoy, what you are passionate about, if you are not “following your bliss”, then your life will remain unfulfilled and no matter how rich or poor you are you will know it.

For my part that means I have to teach, because I am good at it and as much as I used to deny it I enjoy it. I love to be able to help others in this way. For the same reason I have to write, because I secretly do enjoy this as well, even though I have denied that fact for so long when I write it is as if I don’t feel anything. But the feelings are there. Obviously I am passionate about writing, just look at this post! And finally I have to sketch, draw or scribble, design levels, models and textures, maybe even sing. But I can’t do these to anyone else’s standards. I must do these things my own way, the way that works for me, the way I am happiest doing them. If I can find training that fits with this great. If not then I am on my own, but that’s OK. I can trust the Source that if and when I need a teacher one will come. What is there to worry about?

It is time to wake up. You have been asleep for so long. You are a bud and the winter has long passed. It is time to open to the warmth of the sun and let people see who you truly are inside! You have so much beauty to share with the world, for your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. I look forward to the sweet perfume of you doing whatever it is that you are passionate about!