With each new day the world turns, and all things move, all things change and keep changing, and so time is marked by the hands on a clock and thoughts run through our minds and change comes and things go like tides in the oceans and clouds passing through the sky….always though, is this turning of the wheel, the whirling of the stars and shining of the sun, always infinite circles, symbolized by rings, unbroken and endless and timeless and infinite beyond words….a mystery….and in this infinite mystery, this life here and now, people the world over reach into their hearts and join their lives together, forged by vows and with each day they commit their efforts to love and compassion, living out our days on this earth mated, married, happily in the trust of each others care….
“That everything changes is the basic truth of existence.”
We do great harm to our lives when we surround it with worn out old stories. Nothing stays the same. Things are not fixed but rather in a state of flux. We have a lot of change going on in our world. In Japan there is change happening. In our own lives it is happening. It is wonderful in some circumstances to have fond memories of some special moment. Not so wonderful moments take advantage of our minds tendency to cling. We think that Japan is a fixed thing. I look at photographs of centuries old villages here Thursday and now vanished. Everything is gone. They can’t even find the bodies. It is difficult to accept. My mind doesn’t want to believe this can happen (to me). It happens out there somewhere, to somebody else. They were caught in a story. Someone didn’t look both ways before they crossed…. We have this mental trick in our head that tends to be dishonest about reality. We predict when something bad might happen. We avoid certain neighborhoods. We stay off the roads when weather is bad, we hope things will work out. Might be that we would be better served by taking a fresh look every next moment and forget about thinking we know how something might turn out. Might be better to not know how it is going to go. We don’t have to go around believing everything we tell ourselves. I got up Friday morning and it turned out I was wrong about what I believed about Japan. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. That is a fact.
“Let the world do what the world does. I don’t think I’ve ever taken this trail that it hasn’t changed me. Leave in the morning one person, and come back another kind.”
June, An old cowgirl from Jiggs, Nevada
Kicking up some dust on a trail hike can do a soul good. When I can get out on a track and let the rhythm of the place set to working against what I’m caught up about I can find a grip I can use to get back to who I am. The less that happens while I’m hiking the more a tonic I feel in my bones. If I got a worry it usually is gone by the time the walk is finished. It is odd how we spend so many of our years under the impression that we aren’t much changed, that we’re pretty close now to what we’ve always been. Good long walk is kind like a long slow cooking of a meal. Food inside a Dutch oven given enough time breaks down and merges into something you can find worth sopping up and eating with a slice of bread. Comes a point if you get on the trail enough that you’ll come to a panorama look out, see fifty miles to the next mountain range, you’ll be looking out into the distance, and you’ll find you are looking right into the heart of who you are right now…
At moments Noel didn’t know if what he was doing was actually something she wanted. He tried biting her gently, and she cried out for him to stop, and when he did she held him back and would not let him get away.
In my first novel Highway Home it was important to build into the story what Noel Sanderson’s sexual experiences looked like. So, that required writing down on paper in detail the whole deal. That meant first I’d have to describe the scene physically. That’s fun to do. Next I had to write down the internal experiences. This was fun too. And in the end the purpose of writing about these personal, private, intimate scenes was to give a reader the most naked view possible of the characters efforts to be fully alive. The young man in this novel wasn’t in a relationship and how and under what circumstances he was able to create sexual contact with a partner is essential in describing how he comes to find relationship. Sometimes we find sex, sometimes we find love, sometimes we find both, and we never really know what we are going to find until we go for it. People in public are different than people behind closed doors. We seldom get candid answers from people when discussing sex. Who wants to tell someone about their one night stands? Some might, but others might emphasis the best experiences, others the wildest, it seems rare that people will explain the most ordinary, simple acts of love. It is as if the sight of that love is so close even they cannot see it. Who wants to tell someone about having sex with someone who is married? Who wants to explain the unconventional behaviors that they’ve been introduced to by a new partner? The sexual experience is a change experience. Who we are before we surrender to someone and who we are after is a catalyst to self revelation, sexuality is one of the most vivid parts of a person’s life. It is one of the most revealing, volitional actions where a writer can illustrate the fundamental nature of change.
“Education can direct our attention to faculties of mind, not just facts in memory.”
The Mindful Brain, Dan Seigel
My smart phone provides access to information I don’t need to carry around in my head. A few years ago I didn’t have a machine on my desk that answered my questions. As a classically trained ballet dancer, juggler and circus arts performer I learned decades ago that training my body to do various physical moves was a whole different scratching of a place in my mind that was hard to itch. Here is the deal. Faculties of mind are not so much about the mind as storage container as it is about the mental muscle of the mind. The attentiveness muscle in particular seems to produce measurable changes in the brain. Here is a list of the key functions enabled by the middle prefrontal areas: body regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, flexibility, empathy, insight, fear modulation, intuition, and morality. That list of attributes comes from the Mindfulness Research Center of UCLA…For example increasing our intuitive powers would include focusing more attention on how our gut feels. It might include looking at a persons face and bringing attention to the muscles in their face, observing the tension in their eyes, clenching of jaw, posture, tone of voice. It doesn’t take long before we begin to see that our practice produces an increase in our intuitive skills. Figure that most of what I’m talking about is part of the cognitive toolkit we can play with. Playing with this toolkit in the good times increases our talents without having the pressure of coming to a crisis and frantically trying to grasp for them in the hard times. This is not a fix/broken model (I’m not into thinking of us like that) it is a cultivate/enhance model… I like that. Hopefully you will too…
“They cannot see themselves well enough to form a true liking and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.”
From About Ed Ricketts
I’ve my own personal theory of the timing of maturity’s arrival. It seems to arrive more often sooner in some than in nearly half of others. Some of us never grow up, and some of us arrive better late than never. Some of us vow to stop doing stupid things, to listen with greater care to our aboriginal inner authenticity. For example in some they are born with a womb, and with this furnace of creation literally interpenetrating their bodies they can be rendered mature instantly. This is just an opinion, not to be taken too much to heart. Now, for those of us who are not gateways that bring life into this creation we have to work at getting serious about this thing from a different angle. At some point we look up from whatever it is we’ve been toiling over and we survey things. One thing we notice is the thing beneath the likeness we see when looking in a mirror. Then, sometimes, not always, and only if the viewer chooses to listen do we hear this voice, and it is this voice that suggests our visit here is not going to last forever and we might just want to be a little more careful about the way we spend our time here. Once testosterone’s vice grip is loosened from the instincts, it is as if a fog has lifted, and things that rendered maturity mute at once are provided a voice. I have witnessed this miracle of late life onset maturity myself, and it is really something to behold. Of course maturity sounds kind of silly, humorless, mature people can take themselves serious, and this is not the destination I am talking about at all. I’m suggesting a more wondrous mindscape… it’s the Big Bang, the whole enchilada, the unified field. It is that instant flashing across the frontier of your own self awareness when you are moved by something bigger than YOU…the veil is pulled back and at long last you glimpse and hold the thing right in the grasp of the minds eye…it is your souls version of rock art. You laugh like a coyote at the moon. That’s a game changer…
In mindful awareness we have the opportunity to get beneath the layers of adaptation and enhance the possibility of change. Dan Seigel from The Mindful Brain
All of us have our own story, our own narrative, memories we recall and use to extract lessons to organize our lives. It is common to my experience to speak with a friend and hear a story that draws a conclusion that seems to point to a more constricted life.(I’ll never get that job, she’ll never forgive me, I can’t do that…) We can not change our biography, but we can change the story. The novel is an opportunity to illustrate how a character changes the narrative and how that change alters the story of their life. All of this might appear to be understood, but how many times have we needed help because we’ve become trapped in a narrative and find it almost impossible of letting go? “Why do you think that way?” someone might ask. What stories do you tell? Are you aware of these stories? How might changing these stories change your life? Why is it so difficult to do perform this trick….
I am interested in thinking. Cognition is a word used to describe thinking. Metacognition is the process of thinking about our thinking. Dan Siegel a psychiatrist from UCLA has been doing brain scan research. He has been mapping brains of people while they think. We are learning many interesting things about how our minds actually work. Metacognition is a tricky thing. Our minds are always thinking and while trying to remain alert to being aware of our thoughts we can end up lost in them. Then, a light bulb goes off and we wake up and remember that we just forgot that we wanted to continue to think about this one thought and not the new thought that just swept our attention away… Now, Dr. Nora Volkow has been doing research on cell phones. Her research team did brain scans of people who are using cell phones and find that the weak radiation is having a measurable effect on the brain. In fact the brain is speeding up! Now, skeptics have already struck at the finding! It is important to raise doubt as soon as a fact has been established. My mind goes into ping-pong mode, bouncing from one thought and then back to the other. I am swept away by debate, and then find myself finally not knowing what to think! And then I wake up and remember that I am the species that remembers that I forget, and that what I had been forgetting is that I only get this one ride on this trip called life and I want to remember to take care of my brain, remember that, remember not to forget that I am the one in charge of that important action. So, I try to remember not to put that phone near my head, then I forget, and then I remember, and then I forget to remember, and then I remember that I forget….