Reflections

“Blessing or Curse…?”

I have a vivid imagination.  I always have.  Sometimes it is a blessing in my life.  It aids me in all things creative, including my writing.  It enables me to construct whole worlds where I can spend my time; worlds so real to me that their lessons and experiences become part of my daily growth; worlds so real to me, they are often indistinguishable from the one my body inhabits…

Which is where the curse part begins.  Because sometimes, I cannot tell the difference between them.  Sometimes my imagination conjures images and lessons that begin (and belong) “elsewhere,” but they are so vibrantly alive that they begin to take root here, in mundania, in my daily life.  But my daily self is not so well equipped to deal with them, as is my visionary self.  So trouble often follows…

Sometimes I succeed in constructing a fantasy so real to me that I begin to see signs of its manifestation in the “real” world.  But luckily (maybe) I recognize it early enough to deflect it slightly, so that it manifests completely, but for someone else…  The earlier I notice, the better able I am to cast it off, the more likely it will touch someone unknown to me.  But it often returns to me in story form, told by someone else, every detail complete and recognizable.  And sometimes, I barely catch it at all, and must watch it unfold for someone close to me.  And sometimes that is hard to do…

Not because I wish harm on someone else, either, as you might assume from what I’m writing.  It’s not that at all.  My clearest, strongest fantasies are mostly what others fantasize about – comfort, security, love, recognition, success, etc…  And yet they still bring harm to those who “benefit” from them…

I don’t know if I am actually creating these scenarios, or if I merely sense them developing, and transcribe those sensations into a story line that flows and follows.  I don’t know if the impulses that birth these stories are mine or someone else’s.  I don’t know if I am truly casting them off to taint an Other’s journey, or if I merely release them in time to witness to whom they really belong.  And I don’t know if the “consequences” of such success stories are inherent in the stories themselves, or a reflection of my unwillingness to claim them…

What I do know, is that I have recently crossed paths with Others who are “living the Dream” I wanted for myself.  Different versions for different folks, but the details of each are telling.  And yet…

And yet, not one of them seems truly happy or content…

Was I wrong about the things I value?  Are they not the kinds of things that could bring happiness and contentment to me?  Or are they not working out because of some other, unforeseen, reason?

Is it prophecy or manipulation I’m experiencing now?  It’s hard to tell with all that has been happening.  Now that we’ve begun to see the levers and gears that operate behind the curtain of what we call reality.  Now that Time itself has become quite malleable…

What I also know is that this process, which used to work so well for me, no longer serves me, and I have yet to find a replacement.  I used to seek refuge in my fantasies, when the mundane world became too much.  I used to try out different possibilities there, before acting them out myself.  But now…

But now…  I’m never sure which thoughts will play out in the world around me.  Now, when I seek these other realms to explore what options I might have, I find my steps faltering, just as I cross that line…  Now I practice a rigid, impulsive self-control that stops such thoughts before they fully form.  Just in case, you know…

And it feels silly, really, to worry about such things.  I mean, who does that, anyway?  Why concern my self with what has not yet happened, when so much truly is happening now?  And why care if it manifests, especially if it’s happening to someone else?  Especially if it’s a “good” dream I’m making now?

I cannot be responsible for how an’Other lives.  I cannot be responsible for how they use these gifts.  I am not raining curses down upon them, so I have nothing to feel guilty about; all that I have wished for me, and (maybe) cast upon them, is for success, prosperity, comfort, and hope…

And yet the smell of burning flesh still haunts me, and follows me around…

Everywhere.  Every time.  Every day.  My senses reel under its omnipresence.  A memory, or prescience?  Damning either way.  And I am left outside my comfort zone, wondering yet again…

A blessing or a curse…?

 

Standard
Reflections

The Room… Revisited

20170418_113936

Someone recently told me, “you’re not really schizophrenic, Lisa.  You know that.  Right?”

Yeah, I know that.  Or I did, anyway.  At some time.  Before…

She added, “those voices you hear, those experiences you have… they’re real.  They’re actually happening.  To you… around you… you know that, right…?”

Yeah… right.  And those cigarettes really are on the table, after all…

Allow me to explain…

Back in the early 90’s, in one of my unpublished books, there were a series of chapters collectively referred to as “Voices from the Edge…”  They were my first attempt to capture, in process, the experiences I actually had.  To explain them to a non-existent readership what it felt like to be me.  They were based upon the premise that anyone could learn to be crazy like me, if they so chose, by following a few simple steps down some twisted thought roads, to a place where reality was entirely voluntary, self-created and self-owned.  And this journey began in a room…

It was a large room, large enough to contain the many Others I would encounter in my life, and its primary feature was a large table, dead center, with many objects on it.  That room was a metaphor for the Universe I inhabit, the table represented “reality” with its many observable facets (things)…

The room itself was divided into a light half and a dark half, with the line running right through the center of the table.  The light side was densely populated, noisy, with its most prominent feature being a large sofa flanking the table we called reality.  I postulated that the light side of the room represented the “sane” of society, interacting with each other, sitting on the couch to discuss the nature, laws and experiences to be learned from the table and its objects…

The shadowed half of the room was more sparsely populated, with ill-defined forms (defined by “ill-ness,” perhaps?), keeping away from both the light and the table it illuminated.  These were the lost souls, and lost causes, hiding in the refuge of their own minds, choosing not to interact at all with the “norms” of society.  Occasionally one might wander up to glance at the table, muttering something unintelligible, but they would quickly retreat to the comforting shadows…

My chair sat right on the line between light and dark, facing the table.  The light side, with its many people lay to my left; the shadows reached for me from the right.  I chose to acknowledge the table before me, and all the objects upon it, including a picture frame that faced the couch.  Which meant that I could easily discuss that reality with those on the couch, agreeing almost completely with what they saw and experienced…

But suppose that from my perspective, I could see that there was a pack of cigarettes hidden behind that picture frame on the table.  Those on the couch honestly could not see it, being obscured as it was by the picture in front of it, but I clearly could.  I insisted it was there, and so our views of “reality” now conflicted.  But there were many on the couch, and I was only one…

If I went to sit on the couch, as I was strongly “encouraged” to do, I would no longer see those cigarettes on the table, though perhaps I might then be able to see what picture the frame contained; my angle overlooking the table would have prevented me from seeing it before.  But had the couch-sitters told me about the picture I would not have likely argued with them about its contents, since I could clearly see the frame, and had no reason to assume they would lie to me about it.  Ultimately, it was all about perspective, or so I believed.  The couch-sitters I encountered, though, preferred to call it truth.  And so we disagreed…

Was I now to assume, given my change in perspective, that the cigarettes no longer existed?  Or, even more disturbing to my “fragile” psyche, that they never existed at all?

When I returned to my chair, I noticed immediately that the cigarettes remained, exactly as they had been before…

What this analogy taught me, at the time, was that I could not fully embrace a consensus-based reality.  I was too aware of my skewed perspective on reality, and in order to honor my self, I must also honor my own experiences, real or not, true or false.  Judgment was not required, but acceptance was!  I was way too uncomfortable sitting on that couch, trying to deny what I had already seen.  Had I never seen behind the picture frame, I would never have had the conflict; but I had seen behind it, and I would not deny it…

So I learned…  I learned to focus my interaction with others on the objects we could both see.  And I only mentioned the cigarettes when speaking to someone I believed was open-minded enough to consider their existence a possibility.  For the most part, it worked for me, allowing me to “fit in” quite comfortably with the couch-sitters, albeit with the title of “eccentric.”  I could live with that, even revel in that, retaining my unique perspective while still engaging society as a whole and individually…

The only real problems I had came down to that picture frame, when couch-sitters insisted that the picture within it was Truth absolute, with no room for perspective.  Having seen the frame, I knew it was a very thin barrier indeed between those certainties and the shadows they covered up.  So, for me anyway, absolutes of any kind were to be avoided; religion, politics, academic proofs, etc., were but a thin veneer covering a much bigger background picture, and I refused to accept them as Truth…

These days it seems like the shadows are beginning to creep across the room, stealing into the corners and high places first, while threatening the light-needers’ very foundations.  One by one, the electric lights are dimming or blowing out, forcing the couch-sitters to cram together a little tighter, just to remain safely illuminated.  But such close quarters breed conflict, and fear drives them to act out, pushing and shoving, and forcefully evicting some from the perceived safety of the couch and its certainties.

Those evicted tend to close their eyes quickly against whatever their new perspective on the table reveals, but perhaps not quickly enough to avoid seeing things differently, however briefly.  I understand that particular internal battle, as you actively try to deny what you’ve seen, only to have the image return again and again, unbidden, to haunt you both in waking states and dreams.  Things truly are not what they seemed, and those certainties that brought such comfort before have become mere curtains, blowing in a breeze, threatening to open up and expose what lies behind them…

Soon the shadows may rule the room, the darkness may become complete.  And all those objects on the table will cease having any meaning or value at all.  And you who revel in the light today may be forced to acknowledge your shadow as well…

I choose not to fear that day, if only because I know exactly where those cigarettes lie on the table before me.  So many years I’ve focused on them, that I could find them in my sleep.  And I know, being a smoker myself, that no serious smoker keeps cigarettes without a lighter nearby.

Hmm…

Kinda gives a whole new perspective on the old adage, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

The darkness need not be complete, after all…

 

Standard
Reflections

Flights of Fancy…

Dreams…  Fantasies…  Illusions…  Visions…

Hallucinations…

So many variations on a theme, yet a consistent one nonetheless.  For all name experiences we have alone, that we cannot share with Others except through words, art, music… Communication of some sort.

I was at work last night, and there was a quiet moment when I could actually hear the “retail-acceptable” radio station playing in the background.  For some reason, I tuned it in and actually listened for a change, and what I heard was this: “the brain can’t tell the difference between reality and imagination, so it responds to all stimuli as though it were actually happening.”  (The DJ was discussing why creative visualization works, apparently.)  It was an interesting point, and one that tagged into several different exploratory thought trips I’ve been taking lately…

Like how is it possible to know something (with certainty) your entire life, only to discover you’ve actually been wrong?  And how does that change things for you, when it’s so much a part of your “foundational” knowledge?

Or how do you distinguish between hallucinations and reality?  Especially if you’ve developed a tendency (strong and growing stronger) to experience things out of order in time?

Or, for that matter, how do you know whether such “out of time” phenomena are memory, visionary or illusory?

Or how can you use that power of imagination, and the brain’s inability to distinguish mere thought from reality, to create actual change in the physical universe?

(Yes, I actually do spend quite a bit of time thinking of these kinds of things…  🙂  )

I watched a tv show recently that dealt with these themes.  (I won’t mention the name to avoid any spoilers.)  The characters were at a workshop, and the teacher was trying to convince them they could change anything in the world with the power of their mind and will.  The students stared at a white wall, while the speaker encouraged them to change its color to whatever they wanted it to be.  With joyous enthusiasm, they shouted out their colors, revelling in this newfound power of mind, while the camera shifted between their rapturous faces and the still-white wall.  One “doubter” among them never saw anything “for real” except that white wall, and he was disturbed enough by that to question his entire faith…

Which kind of brings me to my point in a roundabout sort of way…

A recent discussion with a friend and fellow seeker led me back to the theory vs. practice dichotomy that has haunted my entire life.  For I believe in the power of mind to alter reality; I have experienced it first-hand.  Being schizophrenic allowed me to live this dichotomy in a very personal way, every day, as I traversed the bridge between things of my world, and things of the world.  And as a writer, I know that all things creative – words, art, music, dance – do actually change the world I live in, both in my own personal reality, and in the reality I share with Others.

But when someone succeeds in creating a miracle, it “feels” different.  It is the difference between altering how one perceives the world, and actually altering what there is to perceive in the world.  And the two are not the same…

So today I ponder those differences, and look for ways to make One into an’Other, and vice versa.  I seek a deeper understanding of a dichotomy that cannot truly exist, except in my mind.  For creation is creation, and change is change, and there should be no great leap required (of faith or logic) to span the distance between theory and practice.  And if there were ever a time when actual miracles were needed, I think this time certainly qualifies…

** stretching my wings **

Yep…  I think it’s time for me to fly…

Standard
Uncategorized

PSA: Bayart.org

In the week or so between when I wrote my recent essay on The Ethics of Writing and the day I published it, I received another nudge about writing again.  This time it was in the form of an invitation to be a contributing writer on bayart.org.  It was an unexpected gift, especially as it arrived during a time when I was debating whether to start publishing again or not.

The site is eclectic, driven by enthusiastic, positive-minded, and talented writers of all kinds.  I had been following the site myself, so naturally, I was eager to jump in and join the community.  If you need a quick mental reset, I encourage you to check it out.

Two things worth mentioning here.  First, due to the number of contributors, the site produces a vast quantity of material.  Be aware of that before you sign up for email notifications, as it will swamp your inbox…

Second, I’m publishing there under the name cougarhawk8.  Not because I’m trying to hide my identity or anything, but because that’s my email addy, and I haven’t learned enough about navigating the site yet to find my profile, or change what name I publish under.  Lol!  Damn technical details!

If you’re interested, this might be the link to my latest post there…

http://bayart.org/on-suffering/

Standard
Essay, Reflections

The Ethics of Writing – A Personal Dilemma…

When should I write?  What should I write about?  What part of my writing “belongs” to the public who may read the words, and what part belongs solely to me?  Who decides when or what I should write?

These are some of the questions plaguing me today…

I know that I have not been consistent lately in keeping up with this blog.  Nor have I been able to keep up with other blogs I regularly follow.  I have my reasons, of course, and my excuses, but today I’m looking a little deeper into the why’s and wherefore’s…

It’s been said by many that a “real” writer (author) writes every day, inspired or not.  I don’t disagree with that sentiment on principle, but feel it applies more directly to those who wish to get/be published, than to those of us writing only for personal reasons.  Lately, though, I’ve received several gentle nudges from people questioning my silence.  Some were quite moving (a fellow blogger wrote a tribute poem for me).  Some were kind of wistful (“I miss reading your blog entries.”).  Some were suggestive (“you should write about that!”).  And others were damn straightforward (“I really wish you’d write more.  You should be writing, Lisa; it’s what you were born to do!”).

All of them share common characteristics – well intentioned, motivating, loving and honest.  All make me want to write more.  But the internal screen remains blank…

It’s not that I don’t have things to say, even, because I talk plenty in conversation.  I read voraciously.  I opine endlessly.  And I seek answers in words to questions not yet posed by my conscious mind; my journal is full of them. Yet I do not commit any to this forum, in spite of the many partial drafts in my draft folder, or the finished pieces. (NOTE: Even this entry has sat in my draft folder for about a week now.)  I couldn’t quite bring myself to publish.  Why?

No simple answers, I think, and yet not overly complicated, either.  I was warned late last year to keep my words to myself, to not attempt to influence people, as we had moved into a pivotal era of human evolution.  Each person needs to decide for themselves where they stand, and what matters most to them, and it was important for me to step back and let that happen.  Thinking about that now makes me wonder, because it assumes I have some influence, where perhaps I have none.  So is this whole silence thing merely an ego trip for me?

I’ve been warned that failure to maintain a regular publication schedule here will cost me followers, as people get bored and frustrated with waiting.  I counter that argument by reminding my friends that I got into blogging not for the followers, but because I wanted a forum to connect with like-minded Others.  But the truth is, I’m still picking up stray followers, even when I’m not publishing anything at all, which leads me to question the significance of followers at all…

I mean, no offense to anyone here, but the truth (I believe) is that most of my “followers” are not so much following me, as they are buying into that blogging rule that “to get followers, you have to be a follower.”  I recognized that early on, and since I didn’t come here to build up a huge site, I have been careful to only follow those blogs I am genuinely interested in reading.  And I am grateful for many I have met here at WordPress, even carrying some of those connections over to other social media platforms.  But the bottom line is, I don’t think any of my followers are truly harmed by my prolonged silence.  Or so I tell myself, at least…

I find myself remembering my ghostwriting days, when I would receive a small fee for writing someone else’s book, and I would get no credit or rights to the published work.  It worked as a source of occasional income, but it was fraught with its own ethical pitfalls.

In most cases, I never met the “actual” author, and I preferred it that way, really.  I would simply receive a packet of information, a synopsis of what the work should be about, and a deadline.  It was my job to sort, organize, draft and edit the manuscript, then later make whatever changes the author or publisher needed.  Not difficult, until I encountered (what to me seemed) glaring errors in data collection or conclusions.  Then I had to make a choice: write what the author wanted (even though I strongly disagreed), try to convince the publisher to convince the author to revisit the data, or simply alter it myself, and hope for the best.  I tried all three at different times, but it was the first and last that proved the most significant for me in terms of learning.

In the first scenario, I found I couldn’t live with myself comfortably after sending out knowingly flawed work, even though my name and reputation were nowhere near the published product.  Even now, that bitterness taints my tongue everytime I think of that particular book.  In the third scenario, I learned a lot about what I now call multi-dimensional writing – a situation where particular words and/or grammatical structure are used to convey different meanings depending upon the readers’ preconceived biases and expectations.  In other words, I would carefully construct the text (using connotative and denotative meanings, word order, idiom and specialized jargon) to present data that the author would recognize as their “own,” while allowing others, like me, to interpret differently.  It is a skill I still use today; anytime you encounter an oddly phrased bit that makes you want to reread it, you’ve likely found an example of this.

Why does any of this matter?

Because a dear friend of mine recently discovered “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, and brought it to my attention.  (NOTE: This title has now crossed my path three times since I wrote this, from three separate, unconnected in space, sources.)  I read this book back in the late 1990’s, though I didn’t remember much about it other than the first Agreement: Be impeccable with your Word.

But she had the audio version, and really wanted to share it with me, so we went for a long drive and listened to it.  (We actually were going somewhere, not just driving around to listen to the CD.  Lol!)  Once I heard the words again, I realized how deeply I had been impacted by them originally, as everytime we paused to discuss, we would find our words repeated in the next section.  It was uncanny how much of what I practice and believe, especially about language and writing, is reflected in the words of that book!  It is a source I highly recommend to any writers out there who wonder about the impact of their work…

And suddenly I better understood my recent restrictions on writing anything at all; if our words truly do influence our environment, as I believe they do, then using them carefully and sparingly in times of great conflict makes sense.  And maybe it’s not even about whether or not I reach or influence you, but rather about how I influence my self!  Because I am not immune to my own influence, you know; the more frequent and convicted my words, the more likely I am to believe them, and act accordingly.  It’s a self-determining path, and I have strong convictions these days…

But I “needed” to remain open to possibilities that had not yet occurred to me.  And I could not do that if I was busy convincing myself of what I already believed.  So silence called to me…  And I listened.

Of course, it didn’t help that my usual “channels” for gathering information were clogged with unwanted information.  Every time I tried to meditate, or lately sleep, I was assaulted with disturbing and/or terrifying imagery; “lost” strangers, animals suffering and dying, the Earth moaning under inconceivable destructive pressures, snipers taking aim at people, and most recently, babies being tortured.  I couldn’t concentrate enough to get beyond the images, so the “source” of my creativity dried up…

But that is finally shifting, as more positive images begin to take root in my subconscious mind and heart.  I am emerging from my long silence with more detachment, less need for meeting expectations, and a greater desire to write sparingly about what matters most to me.

Consider yourselves warned… 😉

Standard