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Dream Lesson

19 Aug

“It is not possible to convince the unknowing that they know. From their point of view it is not true.”

(From text in “A Course in Miracles”)

One day you will understand that you cannot take any of this with you. What will be left of you going into the Spirit world will be clogged and heavily burdened with anger, spite and loss. You will have learned nothing, and you will return again and again to retrieve  your rightful sanity. Her face changed and she growled at me. Like a rabid dog.

It was then, that I realized she will not “know” till her end.

Soul Journey

17 Jul

Souls fly around us all the time. They coast on the wind as if waiting for their place to land. Maybe that’s how we begin…

I believe that as God exhales, our soul gently floats upon His breath. It falls gently, like a feather in a warm summer breeze. As it lands, it envelopes the senses, takes space—and at that moment—we have the option to begin or to move on.

Our earthly time is short in universal definition. We have much to learn with just the right amount of life energy to do it. We are equipped with the essential knowingness that is needed to fulfill our soul’s lessons. This means that this time is meant for spiritual focus, a quiet mind and a life that is free of insanity to hear His words during our soul journey.

Somewhere along the way, we discover what nature does best (this is God’s test). How it cleans its edges, clears its debris and minimizes its clutter. We begin to see purpose in this. We learn how to minimize our clutter, clean out our minds and remove our ego. Space which is occupied but has no purpose is wasted Godlight and energy. Though, through this purging comes wisdom. Perhaps enough to impart on those that surround us. Nonetheless, it is the wisdom gained of our life experience that lifts us back into the eternal abyss—as God inhales and brings us back home.

 

A Writer’s Experiment ©

17 Feb

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Mark Twain

“Writing your name can lead to writing sentences. And the next thing you’ll be doing is writing paragraphs, and then books. And then you’ll be in as much trouble as I am!” Thoreau

 

            In 1926, Henry Lewis Mencken, an American journalist, essayist and magazine editor (Wikipedia 2012) published an essay called “Literature and the School Ma’am” where he states that writing cannot be taught. Although pompous and arrogant, Mencken believes those who teach writing and structure are delusional fools who think they can manipulate the impressionable pupil into a profound writer. My initial response to this essay questioned Mencken’s authority on writing.  I took great pleasure in pointing out his many contradictions of point, disorganization of his essay and disrespect to his readers demonstrated by his obvious lack of proofreading. As enjoyable as that was, I have decided to go deeper and discuss what makes a writer a good writer. However, I don’t want to stop there. This essay is an experiment to discover where my desire to write comes from, and why I felt it necessary to take this writing class. Maybe I am just as pompous as he is, or maybe I am just as delusional as the young minded students he refers to in his essay? I could easily submit my original paper confident that it is “good enough,” but as a self-proclaimed writer and one who desires to be better, I want more from this experience.

Mencken’s essay is laden with personal opinions of what makes a writer a “good writer.” It seems to me, this is subjective and cannot be fairly defined. What is informative, creative or beautiful to one, may be senseless dribble to another. So what makes a writer, a writer? In what could be described as a dull and boring definition, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary simply defines a writer as anyone who expresses themselves in the form of writing (Merriam 2006). That is as simple as it gets. Nowhere in this definition does it discuss what makes a writer good or successful. For this experiment, this may be a good place to begin. We must discuss what it means to be a writer, what is expected of writers to be considered successful and how it all transcends to the writing world.

Writing has taken many forms in my professional and personal life. All have required creativity, thought and care and I treat each piece of work like a loved child. It is a growth experience with each one as they are born, groomed and then sent off to be of their own in the world. Even though writing can sometimes be technically difficult, personally exposing or have unfavorable subjects the experience is very rewarding and is a beautiful challenge for me. In most cases, I must go deep within myself and allow the writing to take me where ever it must go. For me, this is freedom. It is a part of my whole, and without it I am stifled, suffocated and my spirit becomes lame.

I believe a successful writer is one that can communicate their thoughts thoroughly and effectively. Whether formally educated or not, old and wise or young and impressionable it is not about where the skill was acquired but how well it is effectively expressed. It’s important to note that writing cannot be easily compared to the spoken word. When we speak we have the luxury of instant feedback of both speakers’ body language and the opportunity to question.  When writing, the reaction or response is often delayed and we must assume our audience is somewhat knowledgeable of the subject.  We naturally have our own style of speaking and we use style to write effectively as well. Style is simply the manner in which we share the information with the audience.  We must not deny that our writing style is often influenced by those that move us. We look to our mentors, influential authors, poets and teachers to help mold us. They guide us and challenge us to “go back to work, go deeper, and then repeat.” The question remains: is it necessary to continue beyond the required years of schooling in order to be successful?

This brings me to my own personal question: why am I in this writing class? I have been writing poetry, essays and memoirs since childhood with almost no formal training. It is apparent to me that education in writing was not necessary for me to write, but does my lack of education in writing hinder my success? In all honesty that is why I am taking this class. In the world of writing there is much emphasis on education and merit. I have put off sending my work to publishers and literary magazines for years, in fear that it would be tossed aside because I lack credentials beside my name. These are societal standards and expectations that force us to continue education, but I do not believe this is the only way to become a successful writer.

So to answer the questions posed in this essay I must express whole heartedly that I do not believe that higher education makes the writer, while I do believe it presents new opportunities. We learn through each other’s experiences, meet new writers and hopefully nurture our beloved craft even more. Writing is an art form that must have room to breathe and grow. It can move others to action, bring some to tears, and change the course of history. It does not matter where the desire comes from, or how it is taught or learned. What matters is that it is written, and written effectively.

Works Cited

Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary.  New Edition.  2006. Print.

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 14 January 2012

 

Broken Silence ©

17 Feb

He stood in his vacant welding shop, and peered out into his forty acres which was once filled with livestock, hay bales and a family. Snow covered the barren land and a thick stillness remained. He pondered whether or not to call her again. Phoning her had been a new, but daily routine for quite some time. He wondered what she was doing, where she was and if she would call him tonight. He hoped she would. He wanted her to. He wanted her to know how lonely he was—how unhappy he was. If only he could tell her that.

****

“He must admit that he is powerless and that his life has become unmanageable.” The woman’s words seared a hole in her chest as she envisioned her stout and intimidating father. He’ll never admit to such a thing, she told herself as the tall and lanky woman continued to speak. “I want you to write him a letter, and in that letter I want you to tell him why you are doing this. Tell him how he has hurt you.” Thoughts welled up within the young girl as her eyes began to flood, tears in a hurry to escape. How he has hurt her? She couldn’t possibly say those things to him. This woman didn’t know her dad. How unpredictable he was. She could never tell him those things.

“You’re doing the right thing, a very brave thing. You are saving his life,” the woman continued.  The young girl looked around the plain room, and tried to dismiss how uncomfortable everyone’s stares made her. Two of his best drinking buddies, one—a longtime neighbor, sat next to her and squirmed as they watched and listened to the nervous daughter now twenty-nine years of age, pregnant and emotional. Strangely, they were the reason she was there. It was time, they told her.  It was time to reach out to the only one who had yet to free himself from the very thing that bonded them all together.

She sat there, in the deep broken down cushions of the woman’s stained couch, pregnant belly squished and confined. A daughter and soon to be new mother, she was in a fog. All she could think of were drunken nights, broken promises righteously defended and the unforgiving family torn apart.

Both had asked her, “Are you willing to do this? Write him a letter? You have to read it to him. Tell him why you are doing this.” She glowered at them, and finally spoke. “Yes,” she said as all three listened to her very grounded and controlled voice. “You all have asked me if I am willing to help you, and if I am strong enough to go through it. You tell me what I’ll gain from this: A new father and a new relationship. An opportunity to “give back” to him, for all the wonderful things he has done for me.” Her gut twisted and churned as feelings she abandoned a long time ago rose to the surface. In a forced and strained voice, she reminded them of her relationship with her father. How it was based upon fear, power and loss. He didn’t take advice from his daughter, he gave it. He didn’t accept opinions from his daughter, he gave them. She was a daughter unable to reach out to her father, for fear of what he would do if she touched him. Physical contact was on his terms only. They had to know what she had to lose. She had been left in a distant place hanging on to a frayed thread, waiting for him to make the final snip. Silent thick air consumed the room. The meeting was over. In just a few days, her father unaware of the planned sabotage would be given a choice—an ultimatum.

****

It was early, about six in the morning. He could see his breath as he forced a new log into the fire-place. He stoked the coals to get the fire going, and thought about the night before with his daughter and her husband. Christmas day filled with movies and a feast of prime rib. He remembered the moment she got up off the couch, excited that she had felt the baby move for the first time, as she handed him a cold one. They must have stayed late last night he thought. He didn’t remember them leaving.

He stood in his kitchen, and stared out the sliding glass door to the barren field as the fire grew and began to crackle. He eyed the bottle of Kamora in the glass cupboard out of the corner of his eye and thought of his morning coffee.  He had only one beer left, and would have to drive to the gas station eight miles north to get more.

It was quiet he thought. Not a breath of wind out there. Two deer gently grazed out in the field, and worked slowly through the drifts of snow. He was tired of his morning routine, he thought to himself. Tired of the heavy feeling from the day before and the hangover pains that never really went away, and as he pondered either getting into the bottle of Kamora or heading to the store the silence was broken by the sound of crunching snow. He looked up. The deer had run off.

He went to the bedroom window and saw his neighbor’s truck pull in the yard. This was not at all uncommon, and as he went back to the kitchen to check the pot of coffee to see if he needed to refresh the pot, he heard several voices outside. That was strange he thought to himself. He went to the sliding glass door and saw that two vehicles had pulled up. His neighbor got out, shut the door and walked to the porch. “Howdy,” he called out. “Howdy back at ya” he returned. Then he saw her. Her face red, wet and eyes swollen. “Hi daddy,” her voice cracked. His heart sank. He wondered what the hell was going on. Both of his best friends, his daughter and her husband began walking up the steps. Then he noticed another woman getting out of the second vehicle. He had never seen her before…but he knew who she was.

 

Letters were read and tears were shed. He said nothing in return. He sat at his desk in the living room, stared out the window and listened but never looking at anyone. His daughter so fearful of what he would say. So fearful of what he would do, ready to be thrown out of the house and told never to return. His friends, who knew him better and knew more of him, had expectations of something very different. They expected him to question the cost and time away from work. All had been previously handled. They had called his boss, his union representative and consulted his insurance. A bed was already reserved at the local rehabilitation center. No matter what he said, they were ready to present him with their action plan. But, none of this concerned his daughter. All she wanted to hear, whether the answer was yes or no, was that he would still love her. He would still want her.

Time slowed as the air became silent and thick. All were consumed as they waited for his response. The room began to get smaller and smaller she thought. Her heart pounded, and her body shook. She felt like she was treading in thick Jell-o. Her eyes filled entirely with tears and barely able to see, she opened her mouth ready to say she was sorry. She wanted to tell him it wasn’t her idea, and beg him to forgive her. Her father turned and looked at her. His chin quivered as he tried to hide the fact that he had been crying. Tears poured down his face, and betraying his efforts to remain ever powerful and in control the silence was finally broken as he said to her: “What took you so long?”