Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wake Up! And Tell Another Story

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.

Cheshire Cat: Oh, you can't help that. Most everyone's mad here.
[laughs maniacally; starts to disappear]

Cheshire Cat: You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself.

~Alice In Wonderland (1951)

What is madness? Is it simply another view of reality that differs from most? Is it that the mad see what most of us don’t? If so, then are most of us mad because we don’t see what those we classify as mad, see? We tend to call those who can’t cope in our shared reality (read: society) mad, but who’s to say that our shared reality isn’t some mad vision? Perhaps it is. Maybe those who can’t cope are made mad by this shared vision.

In the latest Alice in Wonderland movie, “Alice”, we see why the Mad Hatter may be mad. His world was destroyed in an instant. His perpetual tea party was a way of keeping some part of that lost world intact. When Alice arrives back in Wonderland after thirteen years, his tea party has deteriorated. His illusion is faltering. Is our illusion, our shared reality, faltering, too? It seems what once seemed to work, no longer does. The new Alice movie talks about making our own choices and not choosing what is dictated to us by society. Alice is more awake now, for this dream is no longer a dream and because she is awake she can direct the story as she wishes.

Perhaps we all need to wake up and realize we can tell another story. The illusion need not decay into a nightmare. We can live our dream and change our story if we don’t like what we are living right now. It’s still just a story we tell, but it can be a conscious one.

Do you like the story you’re living? If not, what story would you like to tell instead?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weave a Better World by Living Your Bliss

“If we will not be marplots with our miserable interferences, the work, the society, letters, arts, science, religion of men would go on far better than now, and the Heaven predicted from the beginning of the world; and still predicted from the bottom of the heart, would organize itself, as do now the rose and the air and the sun.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world we weave would be a better place if we all followed our bliss; that which our very nature bids us to do. So often we choose to live our lives as we’ve been told we should or how we think we should, and not what would bring us contentment and joy.

Now it may seem that society is not very friendly to some of the things we would like to do for a living. So what! The world is not a better place, at the moment, for all our dutiful choices. I liken us all to a symphony, each person an individual musician who, by playing their instrument according to their particular part, brings a much needed piece to the whole. Together these individuals create a beautiful piece of music.

Play your part. Add your voice. I know you’ve heard this before, but are you doing it? Please do so if you’re not. I believe if we all do what is in our nature and be who we truly are that the world will be happier. How do you feel doing something you don’t like, lousy right? At some point you may begin to get sick. Maybe you get high blood pressure, weight gain, heart troubles, etc. from the stress of being someone you’re not. Now imagine thousands, even millions of people feeling this way. Yeah, you have our world as it stands now.

Choose to live your bliss. We all have some duties, but how we fulfill them is up to us. If you can’t rush out and live your dream right now, start following a path that will get you there. I’m finding my way back to my true self. Join me. Let’s make beautiful music together. Or in a textile metaphor: Let’s weave a tapestry so beautiful that we’ll wonder why we ever made anything else.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Are We Reflections of Reality?

Let me get all Platonic on you for a minute. Behind this piece of paper I’m writing on (I write in long hand first) is an idea of paper, or more accurately, an idea of a writing surface that manifests as a piece of paper. If I close my eyes I can picture many writing surfaces. Paper, chalk board, computer screen, etc. When I let go of those images and the words describing them, I’m left, supposedly, with an essence called writing surface. I’ve been practicing this. I’m still not quite sure I’m grasping what the essence is exactly, but I’m practicing.

So, if there are essences then I, this person named Joanne Elliott, am a reflection of something else. I’m ok with this. The more far out the thinking, the more ok I am with this notion.

So what the heck does all this mean you say? I can only tell you this: I’m not sure.

But I can see how to use this thinking exercise to talk about writing. The idea or ideas inside your mind are reflected in your writing. The stuff you get on paper is only a reflection of those original ideas. It’s near impossible to match those shimmering things inside our minds, but the words we write can still be beautiful. And so can life. The only perfection is in those essences behind everything, so don’t worry about it. Just write.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Through My Eyes Only….To See or Not to See

What’s real when we all have different perspectives? Is there some objective reality out there? And even if there is, does that matter since we each have our own view of reality?

Understanding that we have different perspectives seems especially pertinent when it comes to relationships. Let’s say Amy thinks Jim isn’t paying enough attention to her and Jim thinks they spend too much time together. What’s real? What would other people see? A friend might see that Jim is paying attention and tell Amy that maybe she’s wanting more than is reasonable. The friend might tell Amy to ask for what she thinks she needs instead of just being annoyed. Jim might see Amy as angry and cold. Amy is being cold because she’s hurt, and so tries to manipulate more attention from Jim, but that doesn’t seem to be working.

This is all too complex for me. So what is real, the friends more objective view? The friend’s view can’t be the whole story because they don’t get to see all that goes on between Amy and Jim. Jim and Amy’s views are a problem because their emotions blur their vision and make things even more complex. It’s a miracle we humans cope at all. But we do. We do because of our ability to imagine life from someone else’s perspective. This can open our eyes and clear our vision.

In the case of relationships maybe the question of reality doesn’t matter so much as being able to see through the eyes of the other. When we are open to other points of view, we are expanding our own. This expansion is also a part of a storyteller’s ability to create characters. So practice this in both your writing and in your life. I guarantee things will be less dramatic in your life and more dramatic in your works of art.