Wednesday, January 25, 2012

ET Go Home

Months ago, I overheard this statement:
    "There are times in the life when the soul says, 'ET, go home, I don't like it here, it's a terrible squalor nasty place, and I wanna go back to Heaven...I wanna go back to the Garden of Eden, and merge back into the Whole, and  God's eternal grace.' But I can only have that I if I die, but I wanna live, so I choose not to do that. At that point we begin to look for something in this world of reality to take the place of connecting with GOD."
I was eavesdropping, I know, but it struck me, as if my own soul sought out these particular words as an opportunity to poke me and say, "See?! See what's been going on? Now maybe you'll understand what we've been going through!" Immediately, I wrote it down (hence the grammatically incorrect format; it was also a spoken statement, and so was made without the normal care a writer would take).

I've allowed this statement to rattle around in my head ever since, weighing its validity from time to time, and I've never found cause to reject it. In fact, I've found it's the key to understanding many of my behaviours and some of the situations I've found myself in.

Of course, this statement is based on the assumption that a body has our soul 'installed' at some point during conception. A reiki practitioner once said to me, "Your body is not who you are; it's just a vehicle." I remember those words very clearly, and when I heard the ET statement, this experience came rushing at me like one of those movie epiphanies that ends with the camera focused only on the character's eyes, leaving me a little dumbstruck.

The ET statement is also based on the idea that there is a separation between the spiritual world and the physical world, and that we as human beings have the unique capacity to inhabit both simultaneously. This is something C.S. Lewis first introduced me to while reading The Screwtape Letters. Unfortunately, our modern existence revolves mostly (completely, in most people's cases) around pursuits of worldly gains, and not entirely because we have a choice. Screwtape writes that inhabiting both worlds comes at a cost: we lose our understanding of the spiritual world. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, though. It's true that I could choose to focus solely on tuning my spiritual radio back to the Divine Channel, but I've grown up in a life that requires some degree of material success to provide for and maintain the other gifts I've been given from God: notably this body here that sits typing, nourishment enough to keep it healthy, the means to become and remain employed, a warm bed to sleep in at night, and the people who love me. Ironic, I dare say, but I'm sure it's all just part of the Plan. Not knowing, and having no control anyway, makes faith so much easier.

A spiritual man (one of the few I've ever really trusted) once told me he believes babies have memories of God when they're born, which totally jives with the concept of soul 'installation.' Eventually, of course, these memories fade, due both to the enormous worldly experiences we have growing up, and also to the teachings of the people surrounding us who have become 'seasoned' (wearied) and therefore willing (though unknowing) agents of Pantheon of Worldly Pursuits. Even when a human being grows up knowing God, that knowledge is always subject to the interpretation of those human beings who raise him or her, which, in my experience, always seems to be some self-interested perversion of true faith based on exclusion of those who disagree or believe differently, or don't match some description of the thing one finds oneself to already be. Zappa was right when he said we are dumb all over.

It's a terrible, messed up world we live and grow up in, but we're not completely hopeless. The ET statement reminds us that we all have the secret decoder ring to make sense of it all: our soul, and that if we listen, we will have the knowledge we need to make it through. I don't just mean survival; I'm talking about actually thriving in both the physical and spiritual worlds. We were all put here for a reason and given a unique Gift with which we were intended to make the world a better place. As I teach my children, it is up to each one of us to discover what that gift is, develop it, and then make good on our end of the bargain by using it for the betterment of the world (and people) around us.

Easier said then done, I know...but I'm trying. Even if I hadn't spent years developing this philosophy, there's almost no chance I (or anyone) would get it right on the first attempt. I've held many jobs and had many successes and failures, all of which only contributed to my understanding of the whole ordeal. We are only blind, feeling our way around a huge room to find the thing that feels just right, occasionally bumping into others who are blind, sometimes believing we've found what we were looking for, sometimes giving up and settling down wherever it was we stopped searching last. Sometimes we get up from a place we've been resting and continue the search, much to the anger or disappointment of those around us.

And all of that is okay. I don't believe we are meant to know right away what our intended role is, and I also believe if we don't get it right this time around, we're given another chance, and in between times we do get to go back to where we came from, and have a moment of rest with our creator before we're dumped back into the maelstrom.

There will be no disclaimer with this post. Even if I was formally educated in theology or philosophy or psychology, I don't think any of these professional fields includes what I think I've learned in my brief time exploring my own space in both the physical and spritual worlds. I don't claim to know what works for others, only what has been working for me, and I'm not interested in anyone's judgment of that. If I'm completely off the mark, so be it, but even if I'm driving myself off a cliff, I know I'm at least providing for a few very important people along the way, raising them up with love, having fun and enjoying each other's company, and encouraging them to develop their minds, thereby enabling them to ask those same questions of themselves that led me to my own conclusions. Even if I'm wrong, maybe they'll get something a little more right, and that will make it all worth the struggle.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

No Love For Narnia

(alternate title: I Am A Very Bad Man)

I'm ashamed to admit it, but...

I just can't find love for the Chronicles of Narnia.

I know--just stone me. As literature goes, this series is supposed to be universal, loved by young and old, generation after generation. As authors go, C.S. Lewis is supposed to be captivating, inspiring wonder and excitement in the deepest recesses of the reader's mind. As epic stories go, the Narnia series is arguably a modern Aeneid, missing only a visit to the Underworld (and possibly a tragic father/son power struggle). And I'm sorry. But I just can't get there. Believe me, I've tried.

I made it through The Magician's Nephew just fine. I started The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe only to get shut down by the kids with Lucy crying, "Mr. Tumnus! Mr. Tumnus!" I remember the very moment I read that line, feeling very goofy, completely unable to imitate what I'm sure Lewis meant to portray as a frightening and terrible moment. But the kids weren't having it. They'd given me twenty minutes of their bedtime ritual, and they were done. They politely requested I read something else.

I was genuinely aghast. Really, I knew *I* wasn't getting into it, but these little darlings were supposed to have been enchanted. Wasn't everybody when they first broke into this novel? I thought by that point they were supposed to be hanging on every word, knowing in their hearts that Mr. Tumnus, the tragic pawn of the White Witch's trap, had been caught and surely punished, but hoping with their last breath that he would somehow escape his inevitable fate. But they weren't. We opted for Brave Potatoes instead.

Eventually I finished the book out of principle, but it took me several weeks. I even started the Horse one after, but when the evil guy bargaining for the kid turned out to be everything he'd been presented as originally, with nothing either sincere or sinister beneath the surface waiting to be revealed at the last minute, I just gave up hope. I finished the chapter and re-shelved the book.

Now I'm trying again, this time working in the order in which the novels were written in an attempt to revive interest. Having Read Wardrobe, I'm now digging into Prince Caspian. I wasn't worried about missing anything in the long years between, because I made absolutely no emotional investment in the former. What I've found so far is what I remember experiencing before: a really good story told in a flat, linear, single-layered monotone. And every time Peter says, "By Jove!" I almost want to puke. The greatest value I can find overall are the colorful and wonderful passing descriptions Lewis makes of characters and landscapes, but he never stops telling the facts of the story long enough to let me, as a reader, enjoy the mental image he's just flashed before me before it's snatched away.

I don't know what my problem is. I am sure I'm missing something. I do, of course, realize that the story as a whole, in particular Wardrobe, is a Christian allegory. I also know that Lewis was a dear and respected friend of my very most favorite, J.R.R. Tolkien. And the people in my life who love books and stories and fantasy and literature love The Chronicles of Narnia. I've also read one of Lewis's earlier books, The Screwtape Letters, and I couldn't put it down. Not understanding the passion for this series is like stepping out of the theater for Snowcaps just as the key moment in the movie is about to occur. Everybody else is in awe by the time you get back, but it's simply too late for you.

Please, somebody help me. I want to find beauty and wonder in this series. I want to find what others say they love. I want these books to change me the way other classics have, but I guess I keep missing the mark. If anyone can offer some pointers, I'd really appreciate it. Don't worry though, I'm not giving up this time. I intend to finish Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And then I'll watch the movies. But after that, all bets are off.

I'm so sorry, Clive. You know, it could be worse: I absolutely hated Voltaire, and I didn't even feel bad about it.

Friday, January 13, 2012


14 October 2011

This much pain creates a kind of insanity that drains the waters of confusion from the morass of self-imposed disorientation, and presents the difference between reality and fantasy with stark and unwelcome clarity. Thank God it only comes on rare occasions, and for tension headache pills, and for the Muses that help me exorcise these demons that escape as words written, chords played, and a rain of tears I can only hope will cleanse the Truth of a rotting plague.


Saturday, January 7, 2012


Rage grew in my eyes.

"I know you're in here, and I'm going to find you," I muttered, "and I'm going to kill you."

Movements slowed as I watched the contours and shadows of every corner.

With the CRACK of my weapon, I struck. A body drifted to the floor. Victory!

The fly was dead.

* * * * *
FFF-55 Vol. XXIX. Tell a story in exactly 55 words. Go see G-Man.