Tag Archives: Writing

The Heart of Storytelling

I read a post a couple of days ago stating that the difference between humans and other animals was the ability of humans to tell stories.  And that this ability is what has led to discoveries, inventions (good and bad), art, poetry, war, etc.

Of course, I believe other species have their own way of telling stories. 🙂

Stories have been said to create a special niche where we love to reside.  Fictional worlds that fill our minds, the majority of the time for some of us, with a central plot-line of underlying “conflict.”  There are generally dark forces to overcome, battles to be won or lost, struggles that define the protagonists, to whom we relate ourselves.

It is us that mirrors back as being the heroine or hero.  Whether defeated or exalted.

Continue reading The Heart of Storytelling

Neural Roadmaps Revisited

Revisiting the past seems to cycle in our lives.  If not physically, mentally.  But it seems there are times when the physical odyssey is unavoidable.  It may even be unconscious at first.  We embark on a journey just to realize midway we are circling back in time. Perceptions have shifted, aged, but we are retracing routes gone by.  “Treading trodden trails,” as the saying goes.  Neural roadmaps.  Highways of memories.  Echoes of day dreams.

The roads might be slightly different.  And the faces we see this time around may be new to us, drawn together, in passing, by a transitional event.  In this case, it was my mother’s final breaths.

I saw the parallels as I was driving by the home where myself and my brothers grew up.  A small town now a burgeoning suburb of a major city.  When the family moved there, the population was around 250, plus a lot of corn fields.  When I left, there were little more than 2500 people.  It’s no longer a rural community and the population has passed 30,000.  The corn fields replaced with structures.  More boxes for storage, of categorized life.

My old home is now a dental office with the yard paved over.  A parking lot for tooth repair.  The vacant lot across the street, a playland of the imagination where mythic battles raged in the jungles of weeds, now a motor bank.  The majestic apricot tree on the corner by the park, gone.  Not even a seed to carry its memory of the sweet fruit it offered free for the taking.  The lake we fished in, fenced off, imprisoned.

The historic downtown, an outward reflection, a mimic of time, but the core has transformed.  The library is office space.  The hardware store, an art gallery.   The feed mill, a microbrewery.  The old school is torn down.  Time and places evaporated.

But all of my memories are intact.  The pleasure and the pain of growth.

Every summer this home was a launch point for the family reunions.  First with my dad’s family in Indiana, and then my mom’s in Michigan.  Those were times of active voices.  Of laughter and play.  The excitement of seeing cousins, of family card games, and mysterious old homes to explore.  Spiral staircases to dusty attics, and coal furnaces in the basements.  We mined for treasures.  And we found them in shiny objects unearthed, planted by the generation before.

And there were haylofts in old barns, where we leaped into the sky, hay piles lying beneath to break our fall.  Flying for instants that lasted forever.  A shirt was a cape, or a parachute.

An old hand pump still brought water from the earth.  A hidden aquifer of life.

An electric fence for horses, and a dare to feel its pulses.  Grab hold the wire and zap a brother with the other hand, before mom or dad would shoo us away.

Pulses, pulses, I feel my heart beating as I drive, wandering back in time, shuffling though images not matching the roadway.  Highway hypnosis.

I’m retracing that reunion route again, but this time, the nuclei of both families are gone, having passed on to the Blue Road of the Spirit.

My father passed in ’09, and after revisiting the ground where I was raised, I stop to pay my respects to him and my paternal ancestors.  He was buried in the family plot in the town where he grew up.  A few miles down the road is “Stearleyville,” or its shadow, founded by my great, great grandfather.  The reverse of my hometown.  The small village is gone, fully reverted to farmland.

The cemetery is filled with generations, back to the original immigrant couple.  Two stones eerily bear my own name.  One my grandfather, and one his second son that died as an infant – born on my same birthday, passed 30 years before my birth.

I remember my dad’s funeral.  Full military honors.  Steeped in tradition.

He taught me the meanings of honor, integrity, loyalty, strength of character, and hard work.

We talk in silence.  For a while.

Then it’s on to Michigan.  A small town on the border of Ohio. My mother also to be buried in a family plot.  Similar small town and farm family roots.  The memories of both homes blurred.

She’s outlived the rest of her family so we have a small ceremony.  A few cousins, whom I’m meeting for the first time.  It’s a nice service for a well-lived life of a good heart.

She taught me compassion, empathy, and self-sacrifice.

My parents’ bodies lay some 300 miles apart.  Their spirits united?  Their soul contracts complete?  And the particles of consciousness they helped bring into the world are scattered about the Midwest. Such is the stardust of which we’re composed.

Family plots.  Family traditions.  Traditions I will not follow.  My ashes are to be released into the wind.  No name carved in stone.

I wonder, when I leave, what neural roadmaps my daughter’s memories will travel.  I hope that she too has flown wearing a magic cape.

***

 

Photo: I didn’t actually take this image, but it is an image of my brain from an MRI . . .

And if you didn’t see it earlier, check out my intro to this post in my Daily Musings – Rotation.

Rotation

A number of things were swirling in my head as I woke from my slumbers.

For one, Kirk Douglas died yesterday.  And as I read off the list of his many accomplishments and movies I was reminded of the film “Lonely are the Brave.”  Now I saw this film a long time ago, loved it, and when I watched it oh so many years ago, I had no idea of the connection with Edward Abbey, whose work I’ve also come to thoroughly enjoy.

It’s strange how things can circle around in our lives.

Continue reading Rotation

The Club 66

There is always a struggle in a writer’s mind about just what to write about.  We want our posts to be meaningful in some way, although the definition of meaningful may vary from day-to-day.  And lately, I’ve taken a little rest from writing.  It’s not because I don’t have stories to tell, it’s just trying to decide which I want to tell, and how I want to tell them, and if they’re relevant, and would a reader enjoy them?

Those are big questions, and I don’t have any answers for any of them this morning.  But I need to write.

It’s sort of an addiction and I’m in withdrawals.

Continue reading The Club 66

Thrown for a Loop

Back in early November, I had settled into what I thought was a pretty decent routine.  Reading, walking, hiking, meditating, and exploring my hobby of photography.  That routine came crashing down when the house I was living in became contaminated and I had to make a hasty retreat.*

My patterns are still in a state of disruption.

Writing has become a bit secondary to solving the housing problem.  But I did finish a series, at the invitation and encouragement of my blogging friend George,** about marriage and divorce.  And that too left my head spinning a bit.  I was, after all, revisiting some very painful memories.  Basically, these memories, as well as the present situation, all involved a theme in common – the loss of home.

And I mean “home” in the more intangible sense of that word.

Not just a place to stay, but a feeling.  A feeling of sanctuary.  Of warmth.  Of love.

Loss of “home” is not the same as moving out of a place we’ve “occupied.”  It’s abandoning a sense of security, of integration, of sentiment.  A home is where there is a heart connection.  It becomes part of you.  An extension.

Usually, this extension of ourselves is tied up with another individual or a family.  It’s a communal nature.  What makes a “house” a “home” is not the decor.  Not the pictures hanging on the wall, or the color scheme of the bathroom fixtures.  It’s an amalgamation of the feelings of warmth and protection and mutual love.

Quite an introduction there, I guess.

Intro to what?  You know how I like to switch gears. 🙂

Continue reading Thrown for a Loop

Reflections – Three

I was visiting a friend this past weekend and we had tea, did some meditation, and a little bit of guided writing.  It’s an interesting way to spend a few hours.

Setting an intention to engage in mindful activities.

So, the writing exercise was basically a prompt, and we saw what we could come up with in ten minutes.  I don’t think we could have been more ying-yang.

Continue reading Reflections – Three

The Internal Dialog

We’re already nine days into the new year and I realize I haven’t posted anything yet.  True, things have been busy.  Crazy busy.  But that’s no excuse.  After all, my mind is constantly churning out thoughts I seem to have no control over.

Spewing and spewing more words, phrases, ideas, and concepts than I can wrap my head around.  Nonstop.  Mass internal confusion.  The collision of thoughts like sub-atomic particles ricocheting around in a super collider.

Condensation trails in a cloud chamber.

It’s no wonder it’s tough to think and write cohesively.

What is that voice in our heads constantly telling us how the world is?  And I don’t mean that voice from the subconscious that warns us when we need it most – that’s our gut talking.  That’s intuition.  That’s something entirely different.

Continue reading The Internal Dialog

The Darkness and the Light

Fear, desire.  Lightness and dark.  The polar opposites are said to be interrelated.

But that doesn’t seem to match our perceptions of reality.  I mean, do people fearing some awful event actually have a secret or subconscious desire for that event to happen?  Self-flagellation??

I’m not really sure.

There is a growing body of literature talking about our power to manifest the things we want in life.  And I’m not sure how much credence to put in that line of thought.  This mystical power if activated improperly, by a negative focus, would rain terror down upon us.  And that seems to negate the concept of free will, or our ability to say “no thanks.”  “I don’t wish to be struck by lightning.”

Continue reading The Darkness and the Light

So Many Buzz Words, So Little Time

From some of my prior writings, you know how I love buzz words.  Especially in the employee-employer context that I see so often in the management literature.

I’m not really sure what motivates people to “rebrand” and try to stake original claim to concepts that have been around forever, more or less.  And I’m also not seeing any of this “elevated thought” being put into actual practice by all of the “influencers” and so-called “thought leaders.”  In fact, I see the old traditional, industrial-age, top-down, hierarchical, my-way-or-the-highway management structure still thriving.

And regardless of all the hype about worker retention, the words of my past managers still ring in my head that “attrition is our friend.”  In other words, if you were one of the creative ones, the ones that offered innovative thoughts and solutions, that in anyway questioned authority and the old “we’ve always done it that way” mentality, well then, you needed to be driven out of the organization, not retained.  You were a threat to management.

In fact, if you were innovative, you were considered a direct and lethal threat to the management team that was busy (barely) trying to justify their own existence.  They didn’t want any smart folks replacing their glacial-moving, accomplish-as-little-as-is-necessary, paper-pushing to retain their Herman Miller “Cosm chair” complete with “auto-harmonic tilt, intercept suspension, and flexible frame” working “together to give them the feeling of weightlessness.” 🙂 

So, with that slightly cynical and sarcastic, yet realistic, intro, here are today’s buzzwords.  And there was a cluster of them today.  “Unbossing,” “servant leaders,” “knowledge workers,” and “compassionate directness.”

And now that the laughter has subsided . . .

Continue reading So Many Buzz Words, So Little Time

Time for Review ?

Time is slipping away, and as we approach the end of another year it’s time for people to engage in reflection, projection, and resolution.

Some are already referring to this as being the end of a decade.  And they’re glad for it, calling it one big dumpster fire.

To others, it’s the end of another year of tumultuous political machinations.  Or perhaps, a role call of all those who died, famous and infamous, loved and unloved.

Others find victimization, trauma, sadness, and are truly heartbroken.

And to others still, it has been just another amalgamation of meaningless seconds ticking away on the clock of the Universe.

Continue reading Time for Review ?

Mile Marker 1000

Well I hit one of those milestones today.  I now have 1000 followers!  And while the stats and numbers aren’t overly important, I do appreciate everyone who visits and pauses to read or comment.

I really enjoy being part of the WordPress community.

I’ve found the people here to be positive, intelligent, and ready to engage in an exchange of ideas that doesn’t match the other social media platforms – in short, people are civil here.  People are artists here.  People are wordsmiths here.  People are poets here.  People share their stories here.

And I can’t get enough of good stories to read.

Continue reading Mile Marker 1000

Lazy or Brilliant ?

My last post was a bit short.  And it really only listed out some research findings.  Although it was interesting research about the power of positive relationships.  And it did include some fun terms like “micro-aggressions,” “micro-experiences,” and “positive alacrity.”

I had to look up that last word “alacrity,” and it means “promptness in response, cheerful readiness.”

One could say that I didn’t put a lot creative effort into that post, or mockingly, and fairly, say that “I phoned it in.”

But sometimes shorter and simpler is better.  The acronym I used for this was “KISS.”  I used it as “keep it short and simple.”  In law school, it stood for “keep it simple stupid.” That’s kind of interesting because one might think that highly educated folks, like lawyers, might not mind long and detailed analyses.  It goes with the territory.

But people are pressed for time.  And maybe that time is not well spent on “legal briefs” or social media?

Continue reading Lazy or Brilliant ?

Lighthouses and Kleptoparasitism

I have to tell you,  I’ve not been feeling well.  The living situation is draining me right now so I can’t seem to get very fired up about writing.   So, I thought, why not just add a pic to your photo journal today?  But then I also found a reminder about a word I wanted to write about.

I couldn’t remember why I wanted to write about this word.  I know it wasn’t solely from its basic definition.  I had some application or twist I wanted to highlight.  To play around with.

While staring at the blank screen, I either remembered or thought of a new one. 🙂

Today, you get both, the image and the word.

Continue reading Lighthouses and Kleptoparasitism