Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#100blogfest entry: If You Can Feel It, Write It

One of the most feared phrases in childhood, “Come up and read in front of the class.” For some this ranks somewhere between the embarrassing nightmare of finding yourself naked in front of the class and having your mother drop you off at school, waving “Be safe Poopsy!” out the window. However, this was not the case with me. At 9 years old I was writing my own little homemade books, with titles like The Mud Man, and volunteering to read them in front of class. I have always had a desire to write and share my thoughts with others. This same love for writing is what I believed saw me through the tumultuous years of my adolescence. I can still remember sitting alone in my room listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Axis:Bold as Love album, eating Top Ramen and tuna with Pace picante sauce, and writing ardently about how alone and depressed I felt.

I had a loving family and some good friends, but there is just something about that time of your life where you can be surrounded by people and reasons to be happy yet you just can’t get yourself to see it.  Maybe it’s just the biochemical warfare of hormones that are in full scale war within your developing body that causes this depression, even so it feels so real at the time and you just can’t see past it. Luckily for me I could sublimate these feelings with my pen writing as fast as I could think. Sometimes my thoughts would be so deep they didn’t seem to belong to a teenager. I would contemplate the very molecules that made up our existence and why these molecules should make us any more important than anything else living or inanimate. Was it the “soul” that made us special? And if so, what made up this soul? It couldn’t be made up of anything different than the matter that made up the universe and was subject to the laws of physics like any other matter. Yes, I was actually thinking these thoughts at age 17 and even composed the following poem:

On trial is the existence of a soul...

The prosecution opens...
Show me a man with a soul, and I'll show you
a man with a grand illusion. For while we are
given a mind that yearns to know the reason for
its existence, strives to realize its purpose,
it finds it hard to see past the grand illusion.
It denies its ephemeral existence in this eternal
universe, and thereby invents the immortal soul.
The defense objects...
What about the emotions of love, happiness and sorrow,
all those things that make us unique as human beings?
Can these be attributed to anything but a soul?
The prosecution regretfully replies...
Those unique attributes of which you speak are only as
real as the physiochemical reactions that make them up.
It is we who have made them out to be more than they
really are.
The defense abhorrently objects...
Humanity reduced to mere physiochemical reactions!?
I'm afraid it is you my friend who suffers from the grand
The defense and prosecution rest. It is left for us,
the jury of humankind, to decide.

So while some kids my age were deciding which mall they wanted to hang out I was busy pondering our very existence …. Now when I see other kids that age wearing the same far off look and wearing the heavy comportment of adolescent sorrow, I will counsel them with these wise words: If you can feel it, write it. You will see that what flows out from your pen, or types out on the screen, are not just images and symbols of communication arranged in agreed upon grammatical structure …. No, they become more than the sum of their parts as you create a window that enables you to see who you really are, and that undoubtedly is someone special and unique. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Economy of Words

What do a humble village gardener in a medieval European village, a psychopathic serial killer in a futuristic prison, and one of the last remaining humans in a distant future dominated by microbes and artificial intelligence have in common? They are all main characters in The Traveling Box Trilogy, an epic poem that spans from the late 16th century to the distant future as it explores and defines the human mind, body, and soul while speaking in the language of our time. Keeping the interest of the reader is foremost in thought while endeavoring to convey this epic tale in under 400 pages. That is why every line is crafted with the consideration of the economy of words.
            An analogy can be made of the economy of words and the economy of finances. Just as there is of necessity a finite amount of currency, so as to give money its worth for trade and payment of debts, there is also a finite amount of words available to express our thoughts and communicate. However, one can continue to speak or write words without the fear of ever running out. Yet, this is not to say that one should go about carelessly spending this renewable resource, for much can be said in a few well-chosen words, while too many words can sometimes diminish the value of what is said. Therefore, whenever I write I try to keep the following quote in mind: “A paragraph should be like a lady’s skirt: long enough to cover the essentials but short enough to keep it interesting.” – Anonymous
            When one is presented with a book that could replace a baseball bat as home protection, unless each page is rich with one or more of the commodities of intrigue, emotion, humor, knowledge, wisdom etc. … the reader will begin to consider the law of diminishing returns. Time is valuable and a reader will be frugal with it, not wanting to waste this valuable commodity on a frivolous expenditure of words. But we are willing to invest our time in reading words that have been crafted with quality and add value to our lives by enriching or entertaining our intellect. That is what I have hoped to accomplish with this trilogy that should not cause you bodily harm if you should by chance drop it from a modest height onto your foot.
            The spoken word too must be budgeted wisely. For instance, the words “I love you,” when confessed for the first time, can be priceless to the one spoken to, but if one uses this phrase too often it can begin to lose its initial value. The same can be said of the prayers of structured religions, in which the followers all intone as one with the same unaltered words of praise and repentance for centuries. While these prayers undoubtedly originated with good intentions, they must have by now become an incessant, unremitting, torture to the divine’s ears. I can picture the god clasping his ears and pleading, “Please, for the love of me, cease spouting off this repetition of prayers that has now haunted me for centuries! I have created you each independently and as such I yearn to hear your own original thoughts.” And so, in the midst of the myriad of literature to choose from, I offer a story which the reader should find both original in content and style. Now, so that I may be said to practice what I preach, I will end this economized essay before it begins to tax your patience. Enjoy the books!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Power of Perception

If someone were to come up to you and say, “For the next hour do not think of the color green,” guess what just became your one and only thought for the next hour? In fact, not only will you immediately think of the word green, you will be hopelessly engrossed in fighting off wave after wave of unconsciously pulled memories of every different shade of green and those objects and animals imbued with its color. This automatic response is in our nature, and it is our innate drive towards freedom and independence that compels us to think in this manner. Therefore, in my book, The Leaf Catcher, when I issue the challenge: “Can you go just one day without thinking a negative thought?” the sad truth is it is probably next to impossible not to even think a negative thought during the whole course of the day. However, when we become more aware of the amount of time and energy wasted as a result of these unproductive thoughts we put ourselves in a better position to consciously make an effort to turn these negative thoughts into more positive and productive ideas and actions.
The epiphany that the main protagonist, Corliss, has in the story that not only carries him through some of the greatest suffering a person could endure, but also finds him happily embracing his life is that most powerful of all mental concepts—perception. How we perceive, or rather how we choose to perceive, an event, person, place or thing, defines how we will experience our lives. What are some examples in your life where you were confronted with adversity and decided to turn it into something positive?