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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

When Partners Share a Vision

It can often be beneficial for partners to begin their relationship with a joint vision of what they want to achieve together in worldly terms. When two people commit to an intimate relationship together, they often have shared goals that serve to tighten the bond between them - at least for a time.

Sometimes these goals will be financial ones, and partners will organize their lives around career and material concerns. Or, the idea of family might be the binding principle, and couples in this case will pour their energies into caring for and raising their children.

These kinds of arrangements tend to work well for a while. At least the relationship will look harmonious on the surface. But what happens when people finally achieve the goals that they've been working towards for so long? They may build their dream house and find that life suddenly feels stifling and dull. Sometimes when children grow up and leave home their parents begin to drift through their days aimlessly, without purpose or reason to stay together any longer.

Our relationships can thrive only so long as the ideals that we've built them upon can last - unless we're able to find a new vision to help us to redefine where we're heading. Our lives and our world both exist in a state of constant change. A partnership that's intended for life but also based upon priorities that are temporary can face a real struggle over the long haul.

In a forever-changing world, the only real constant is our own processes of growth; so the one priority that partners can really rely on to carry them through the years is a commitment to support each other in growing. When lovers are bound by a common goal like this, their relationship can remain strong and steady in the face of life's twists and turns, even if they move in separate circles from time to time or develop differing interests.

This helps people pull away from a cycle of possessive loving and into a kind of love that is much more unconditional.

There's a scene in What Casts the Shadow? where the bond between narrator Brandon Chane and his girlfriend, Janie McCabe, is cemented. This occurs partially because of Brandon's recognition (hard won, throughout the course of his journey thus far) that there is no "final resting place" in existence.

“I guess it’s a feeling of anticlimax,” I told her. “I mean, you pour so much of yourself into your songs, and then you bring those songs to the people… I guess I’d assumed that somewhere along the line I’d feel like I’d arrived, like I’d done it. But really, it’s just that people are entertained for a while and then they get on with the rest of life.”
“But you don’t know what they’re taking away from it,” Janie argued. “Some things really do change our lives, you know. Songs, books, poems – even a conversation you have with someone; it can turn you in a different direction.”
“Yeah, I know,” I conceded. Then I laughed as the inspiration hit me. “It’s like the lottery! Hah! Is that not the definitive invention of modern civilization?”
Janie flashed me the impish smile that I’d grown to know and adore. “Oh, do go on, Mister Chane!”
“So many things revolve around that goddamn notion: Heaven, celebrity worship, nirvana; winning on a scratch-off ticket. You wonder why people hustle about looking distracted all the time? They’re chasing the illusory moment that these cultural stories promise us, the moment when we’ve made it. All questions are settled and all growth is accomplished. It’s the myth of perfection. It would mean death, really, if one could ever attain such a thing. And yet people keep chasing it.”
Janie looked into my eyes for a long moment, as if she was trying to catch a glimpse of something before it scampered away.
    “Then just keep playing for your love of it – and don’t worry about making it,” she said. “If perfection is a myth, like you say, then we’ve already arrived.”

Saturday, October 11, 2014

First Trailer for "What Casts the Shadow?"

This is my first foray into video for THE EDGE OF THE KNOWN trilogy aside from my own readings (links to which can also be found on this blog). The stock image of the musician I thought pretty serendipitous: He does have an image and introspective vibe that, to me, is reminiscent of narrator Brandon Chane.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Healing Our World from the Inside Out

When problems seem to come from the world then it appears obvious that manipulating that environment somehow - through political action, protest, activism, etc. - is the only way to address those problems.

Movements in an inner vein are subtler, and this is why they often seem to lack power. It's hard to see that whenever changes occur in the outer reality they do so in response to inner shifts. I have to work on myself, cultivate growth internally, to witness positive change in the environment that surrounds me.

Believing that I am the creator of my life is no easy feat when practically every message from world around me insists that the opposite is true. And it certainly seems that the exterior was "here first"; so we must all be at the mercy of its whims. Although it's become somewhat fashionable so say, "we create our own reality", and whole schools of thought - such as the law of attraction - have been built around it, it's a difficult concept to fully accept.

Despite all of these stumbling blocks, however, the fact remains that the world changes when human beings change internally. "Facts" arise from inner realities. The world's healing happens from the inside out. The world is created from the inside out.

This means that I am responsible for the triumphs as well as the tragedies that occur in my reality. If I want to change aspects of the world that are causing distress, fear and pain then I have to alter the picture of the world that I'm nurturing with my thoughts, feelings and expectations.

Otherwise one is caught in the trap of revolutionary rhetoric and reaction, where one system is done away with only to be replaced by another one that's just as destructive. This has happened countless times throughout human history.

On the other hand, there have been social movements that occurred because people's ideas changed, and it is these sorts of movements that carry the spirit of humanity forward. We sorely need such an inner revolution at this juncture.

In What Casts the Shadow?, Brandon's mentor Saul, "a crisis counselor with the soul of an ancient medicine man", puts it this way:

“If we don’t take responsibility for our own lives – or, maybe I should frame that in a more positive way - If we don’t take credit, then our only other options are to either treat everything that happens to us as random accidents or else believe that some other power ‘out there’ decides who thrives and who suffers. It doesn’t make much difference whether it’s a God who plays favorites, a society that’s against us or an aspect of our own psyche that’s bent on destroying us. The result is the same. We feel powerless.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Creativity and Self-Destruction: The Lives of Wounded, Gifted Artists

I used to be addicted to the biographical stories (and the various myths that grew up around them) of the many wounded and gifted artists throughout history. I had the sense that I was staring into some kind of over-sized mirror, which offered me a reflection of a more cinematic self, as I followed their lives.

It scarcely bothered me, at the time, that so many of them had died young, or that the time they did spend here on Earth was often filled with suffering. Their otherworldly creations seemed to justify such sacrifices, and it seemed appropriate that their incredible bursts of inspiration could only be sustained for so long.

But if creativity is meant to be life affirming, then why should one expect that the creative impulse will inevitably destroy whoever serves as its conduit? And why do the stories of countless burnt out artistic lives seem to confirm that theory?

We need our artists to demonstrate how one can live with a creative vision, even thrive because of its presence. Thus far, as history has demonstrated, the arrangement has seldom worked out that way. Is this failure symptomatic of some dysfunction within the artists, some lack of self-love or belief, or rather a consequence of a society that gives them little space to breathe and feel at home?

We may also have to consider the possibility that these great creators planned their destinies this way all along. Perhaps they never intended to be long for the world. It may have been their soul missions to express what they needed to - in one conflagration of inspiration akin to the passing of a comet before our eyes - and then disappear before the world and its ways began to make too much of an impression upon their peculiar innocence...

I spun the core of my novel What Casts the Shadow?, around a young artist both brilliant and (seemingly) doomed. I wanted to explore the question of whether he could be 'saved'. Could he somehow keep his vision intact and yet still enjoy a balanced anf fulfilling earthly life? Could he sidestep the ‘live fast, die young’ credo and cliché of rock'n'roll?

I knew that, in order to do so, he would need guidance.That's how his mentor Saul came to be.

Saul snapped his fingers. “Easier to pretend not to give a shit. That’s the posture of many a hard rocking band, as you know. But you never really wanted to
be in that sort of a band, did you?”

“No. But this is a cynical age we’re living in, Saul.”

“And since when do you care about the spirit of the age?” he challenged me. “Aren’t you guys the band that discards convention and bucks every trend? Haven’t you put your finger on it yet, what you’ve been seeking ever since you jettisoned all your old songs and started reinventing yourself?”

“I wanted the music to be an outlet for
everything that we feel,” I said, “not just the anger and aggression.” 

“Yes! And a big part of that, I’m willing to bet anything, is that you’ve been looking for an outlet for your idealism. Yes, being cynical and jaded is the order of business in the modern world. And you listen to a lot of cynical bands, too. But there’s that part of you that wants to say, ‘Screw it – I believe in humanity; and I believe in myself.’ Even if it means that you won’t look so tough in the arena of hard rock swagger and insouciance.”