Some Things You Can’t Om Away

Joan told her, “Knock it off, Marsh; you don’t always have to be such a putz.”

Marsha, still leaning onto the sink, told them, “You guys and your always-must-make-nice crap.

“Mincing around with your damned fresh coffee, playing Little Miss Nicey-Poo alla time. The charming hostess with all her non-threatening jokes, never hurting anyone’s feelings. Sitting around trying to sort out the karmic implications of sneezing on the burglar who just shot your dog. Fuck it! Some things you just can’t Om away.”

Clarice’s smile had frozen in place, but her eyes belied her terror. She didn’t understand what was going on, but tried to calm the waters anyway. “You send out love; you get love back,” she said.

Marsha finally turned toward them all, and it wasn’t pretty. “Great. You can put that on a Hallmark card and feed it to the goats.She turned toward Paulette.

Paulette said nothing. She didn’t dare look too deeply inside this rabid anti-Christian standing before her. She was horrified that she might find herself looking back.

  • From “The Gardens of Ailana” handbook for healers & mystics

Each Draft is a Stage

After finishing 1st draft of a novel, I have the characters, dialogue, scenes, and a plotline. I used to think this meant I knew where the story was going, and what the book was about.

I have learned over the years, this ain’t so.

As I work through its 2nd draft, characters start to nudge each other. The story itself takes its first soft and shallow breath, and one could imagine he hears a little bit of a heartbeat. Passions deepen, and emotional threads start to weave through what had earlier just been little more than a sequence of events.

On the 3rd run through, the characters stand tall. Some break free of my earlier concepts of what they were all about, what they wanted, how they related to each other, and where they were going.

From then on, THEY set the pace, and I do my best to honor them in becoming what THEY choose to be.

From then on, my friends; we have a story!

 

By the end of the 3rd draft, I have enough of an idea of where the characters are going, and how their passions empower the story, or tear it apart, that I can start cutting away, and cutting away, anything that isn’t that.

Until we reach the point where there is not a single word left anywhere in the book, that isn’t a vital, dynamic, organic contributor to the living whole.

I Don’t Much Like Being Human

In order to research the book I’m now working on, I’ve needed to dive into the world of normal human experiencing. Immerse myself in the internet and political anxieties. I’ve had to take on ego, feel that steely fist of anger closing around one’s heart. Had to touch at least the misty outer edges of defensiveness; that thin and fragile line between speaking the truth courageously at all costs, and falling for a moment into some vague and passing delight in having bested another with some brilliant and finely-tuned sarcasm. I’ve had to explore what it’s like to get enmeshed in intractable hopelessness when each of two clashing and irreconcilable encampments thinks it knows absolutely that only they have the facts, ethics, integrity, and honesty on their side; that the opposition is undeniably foolish, and insane, and could not be more wrong.
I have had to dive back down into being human again so as to bring life and grit to a book that I now more deeply appreciate the title of: “The Soul Hides in Shadows”.
I do not like the view from down here.

Is there a Heaven for those who have taken their own lives?

An awkward, irregular moon, like a squeezed-out teardrop, or something caught while falling, hung frozen in place over Paulette.
Trees whispered, though she saw none of them stirring. She felt her deeper heart calling….
… Her eyes ceded control, opening to those pulsing glows and darting spheres that had been greeting her recent nights in the woods. … High noon was for those who could only see “stuff.” Night was for those of a more magical nature. For those who loved mystery. Beyond the world of dense physical forms is a realm that flows everywhere unbroken.
Whatever these lights were, they thrived in that world. One of the glowing forms drew closer now, almost as though taking a look at her. But then almost immediately it moved on again; going about its business, whatever that might have been.
Paulette thought of Mary. Perhaps the only person she had ever truly loved. Can the spirit of someone released too soon from life wander the forest? Is that what these were; were they spirits? Could Mary’s be wandering happy somewhere until her time came and her place in Heaven was ready for her?
If there even was a Heaven.
If there was a God who cared and understood; who let you in even after you had taken your own life.
“Oh God, if you exist,” Paulette prayed in passionate silence, “Please give sweet Mary a rest.”
One tree stirred, and one tree only.

– From “The Gardens of Ailana”

Atrocities of War

In that moment Paulette stepped outside anything that had ever hurt her before. Harve needed her more than she needed herself.

But she had nothing to say. Nothing to offer him. She came up empty.

“I may not have shot any of those babies in safety seats, but I took out my share o’ guys in a country I started thinking we had no right bein’ in. I could tell myself they’d signed up for it, knowing they might not go home, but that just didn’t cut it after a while.” …

… “Oh, they were scumbags, alright. Other guys in my unit’d be ready to just level the kids too, cause they were getting in our way, but I said, Wait. Let me try goin’ in first. Let me come at ’em from the rear.

“Other times I just lost myself in the righteous glory of cluster bombing the hell outa those bastards.

“And for that one moment, in all the cheering and explosions it’s like all was right with the world. It was John Phillip Sousa at Disneyland.

“But then you wake up a little. You just snuffed out future generations. Maybe bad guys can have good kids if you let ’em. We’ll never know now.”

He was coming close to crying.

“And then you see all those pieces; kid parts lying everywhere.

“And their little faces.

“If they even still had faces.

“Once you finish throwing up, and then toss back a few at camp pub, your next job is to find something inside you that you can bury that under.

“And then … what? Just go on living?”

– From “The Gardens of Ailana”

Still Carrying Pain from Childhood

Paulette awoke with an ache in her heart, a grinding in her gut. If there really was a God, why would He have let anyone put a child through that? …
She had survived, but at what cost? She was an itinerant professor, living in her head, not her heart. She had broken away, but abandoned her sister; hadn’t contacted her family in years.
Paulette wondered what she was looking for in these weekend workshops. Absolution wasn’t on the curriculum. What could she possibly hope to accomplish? To be a healer you need to connect with people. You need to touch, and let yourself be touched. And not just with your hands.
Watching these nurses, she envied them their friendships. Here were real buddies truly caring about each other, taking jabs, sharing private jokes and fears. She’d never had that. Even witnessing it from across a room, or a yard, only made her feel that much more lonely.
She got along with people well enough. Agreed with whatever they said, watched their pets, helped them move from one apartment to another. But no one really knew her.
Paulette had never been flush with self-confidence. People took that as humility, but humility isn’t painful and crippling. She hadn’t yet learned that humble and self-destructive aren’t the same thing at all. They’re not even on the same team.
And now here she was at a workshop for healers. Had she come here to heal; or to be healed?
It was one of those warm, charming days that write poems about themselves, and then settle these very softly into your mind. Paulette sensed what felt like a rain-laced breeze stirring her soul; sodden, and yet beautiful; laden with both the dismal, and the promising.
– From “The Gardens of Ailana”, a fiction largely based around adults still traumatized by having been abused as children, in the name of their parents’ religion.

Mind & Brain

“The mind and the brain are not one and the same. The brain is only an organ, a material vehicle, through which the mind is able to function and operate on the physical plane. The mind does not require or use the brain when it functions on other, non-physical planes of existence. The brain only lasts for the duration of one lifetime but the mind continues on. The mind and the ability and action of thinking are something metaphysical, not physical or material.” – HPB

Step into Spirit Power!

You reach a stage in your development when life floods over with minor miracles and bizarre synchronicities. You hardly notice them anymore; they’re just what your life is made of.
– Then you learn to stay in the moment, following subtle promptings. No longer needing feedback that what you’re doing is right; you trust, and stay centered in the joy of higher service.
– As you pull away from old relationships, outmoded habits and beliefs, others gather around to be part of your new team. You may have to leave folks behind who try to hold you back. Do it caringly.
– As you shed ego, you may be offered an even bigger challenge: to shed what could be thought of as your anti-ego. Allow yourself to be powerful; do great things even as you open in naked and humble vulnerability to another. This will really test your honesty and adherence to Truth. Can you admit your failures and foolishness, and just as willingly step in among the spiritual big guns working miracles?
– Everything that happens to you, everyone you meet, everything you do, starts meshing together like gears in a finely tuned motor, driving your life forward into Higher states of purpose and meaning.
– Edward Fahey

Trending toward Enlightenment

This existential battle I write of in my new novel, “The Soul Hides in Shadows” may go on for centuries. Easily decades anyway. Some people moving toward the Light; some taking stands against it; some vacillating, moving back and forth between the two pulls or not moving at all.
This is how man grows, evolves, learns, and changes.
There will be no sudden explosion of angels from on High and suddenly all bad guys turn to good and all good guys are made pure.
Mankind doesn’t work that way.
We may have a sudden burst of brilliance as in Ancient Greece or in the Italian High Renaissance, but still … The Darkness will fight for control. The dull or stubborn will sit still. There will be those feeding every choice and extreme, but overall the world of men is trending inevitably toward enlightenment just as the planet they live on is trending toward warming.

Changing the Rules

In the real world, obedience was pounded into our butts; discipline nailed each to the cross of his own days. I fought so hard to shut up and buckle under, but couldn’t confine myself to this tiny, hurting world that everyone else lived in. I was like St. Michael slaying the dragon, with me as both the saint and his dragon.
Blind obedience was both our nemesis and our inspiration. What could be more achingly beautiful, more pained by inspiring grief, than that scene in the Garden of Gethsemane? “Not my will, but Thine.” My God, that makes your heart weep. But Jesus knew what he was getting into. Life was rarely that clear for me. I was just a lonely kid with no hope for companionship, in a world where adults claimed to be following God, and God didn’t have to explain Himself. “Abraham, kill your son! I’m bored and the TV’s busted again.” …
… I couldn’t resist questioning encrusted old beliefs, though questioning was the worst of all sins. Adam and Eve had been fine wandering around nude among tigers and snakes until they’d eaten that apple and started thinking things through. We had to bet our souls on stuff that didn’t make sense; on wandering stars, wives turning to salt, and God stopping the sun so His own children, made in His image, could kill each other. Samson hadn’t cut his own hair, someone else had, but rules must be followed, so the hell with him, God said. Then our principal kicked a kid out of school for refusing to cut his. Adults kept changing “eternal truths,” and I couldn’t keep up. Everybody kept hammering away at the world like blacksmiths, each trying to beat it into something different…. – From “Entertaining Naked People”

Scared for theprotagonists

We love stories that slam our favorite fictional characters with unforgivable, unresolvable problems. We find ourselves crying aloud, “Oh no; they cut off her head; how’s she ever going to marry him now?”

We despise amateurish authors who keep trying to ride obvious and wearied clichés out of trouble, telling us once again this was only a dream.

How can you thrill readers if you can’t even surprise yourself?

If I don’t every 2 or 3 chapters find myself saying, “Wow! I sure didn’t see that coming!” then I feel I’ve failed as a story teller. – Which is one of the main reasons I never outline.

And any time I hit a spot where I get all paranoid that I may never be able to work my way out of this particular twist, I just remember, “Hey; I’m the guy who killed off his narrator 2/3rds of the way through one of his books without any idea whatsoever how I could ever finish the story after that.” I tell myself, “Heck. If I was able to work my way out of that one …!”

Depression

Depression is a non-life. It just sits there, not stirring. Like you’re mired in the silence and sludge at the bottom of a stagnant sea. Now and then a dim, fuzzy wad of something hangs above, a brief distraction from your comforting gloom, but it hurts to be reminded there is still life in any form. So you snuggle back into your sludge. Snug it in like a thick, fuzzy blanket around your heart, welcoming the dull, slow non-rhythm of pain and numbness.
Depression sticks to your soul, layers around and within you, suffocating all hope.
I may have lost years to this emotional cancer after Julie pulled away. Depression is a timeless state. Each second is interminable. This hideous strangling darkness drew in ever tighter and more dank; closer than my skin because skin is only on the outside.
There was a big ugly hole in my world, and nothing to plug it with but misery.
-From “Entertaining Naked People” – a book from someone who has worked his way free from crippling depression to a life of joy, peace, and magic.

Birth of a novel.

August 28th, 2015
My books are far from formulaic. I could never let myself write just another bodice ripper much like the others, or whip out a “new” thriller mystery or vampire saga every few months, doing little more than change the names and places. My books are living worlds the reader herself can live and breathe in.
I’ve been developing ideas for this latest one for years. I now have scores, maybe hundreds of pages of ideas and character essences and …
But when I decide to stick some poor human worker bee in a cubicle I have to THINK about what he might have on his desk; what co-workers dress like. what they feel along their way home.
But this is still not a worthwhile read for me if it is no more than characters acting out a story.
Today the new novel came alive. For the first time I felt myself inside someone’s home, heard the rustle as folks moved around, or their sad resigned breathing as they just sat there inert. Their teacup pig chewed on something in the corner and I named the fellow based on the sound he made.
His name is Snerker.
Today this new book came to life, and from here on in, the characters can help write it around them.
This afternoon saw the birth of “The Soul Hides in Shadows”.

10 Things about a Weird Life (or series of them)

Asked to list 10 things about myself:
1. In one of my past life memories I was burned at the stake.
2. In another of them my poor starving parents gave me away to the church when I was still a little boy. I hated that.
3. In this life I lived on a cruise ship in the Caribbean for a while.
4. During my career as a massage therapist I have massaged or met a good number of celebrities. I’ve rubbed among others the first President Bush, Vanna White, and a whole lot of athletes I didn’t know because I’ve never had any interest in sports.
5. I have never had any interest in sports.
6. I live in the mountains of North Carolina, but my girlfriend lives in England, so we trade back and forth, spending months at each home.
7. While in Europe we investigate major spiritual centers and spooky places including haunted ancient graveyards and castles.
8. I once walked out into the fury of Hurricane Andrew in Miami just to see how strong it was.
9. I fell while climbing a waterfall once and busted my head open.
10. So I might be making the rest of this stuff up.

At the heart of all existence

Energy can be defined many ways. Are photons real, or illusory/mayavic? Gamma rays? Radio waves? – Physical bodies and structures are composed of energy forms that are composed of subtler energy forms which are composed of subtler … Each can be called energy. – But at the core of it all; the central essence of it all is ultimately undefinable because in defining and labeling something we are confining it within the parameters of our definition. Of our interpretation in that moment. In confining it we are limiting it. But that ultimate essence is beyond limitations. It will always be more than we say it is by being less (subtler than we can picture). We can bask in our oneness with it, we can know it, but we can not define it. Whereas we can define, control, and confine some forms of energy. – And yet I myself refer to that which pulses and flows through all of it as “energy” because I have no other word which will suffice. In calling it energy I am limiting my description, but not the essence.

Richard Bach & Jonathan L.

How wonderful it was a few months back to visit with Jonathan Livingston and Fletcher again. This time through your expanded version. In these troubling times we often find the personal search for spirit must be thrown against the regimented doctrines of the church. From this perspective your newly released final section seemed even more relevant (if this is even possible in an eternally fresh story that speaks forever to our hearts).
As I said at the beginning of one of my own books:
In these dark days, when even churches go astray,
can we find God and Truth on our own?
We may have to.
But even having come away with this very specific interpretation I wondered how many out there still fail to grasp some of its veiled messages and deep beauty.
I decided that this would be okay as well.
It’s a process.
My own novels are threaded through with layer upon layer of metaphor and meaning, but still it thrills me when a reader finds one more.
I have probably learned a lot of this from you.
Thank you for your continuing influence in my life.
And – through me and countless others – on other readers and thinkers everywhere.
Thank you.

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness doesn’t make one person better, or the other guy smaller. Forgiving is just letting go. It’s turning back toward being what we really are.” – From “The Gardens of Ailana” handbook for healers & mystics