19. How To Learn To Write (Or Ski)

12/30/2017

        Essential Truths Number 1 and 2:              

When I was much younger than I am now, I wanted to become a firefighter.* Never mind why; it’s a long story. I was small compared to the male firefighter Wanna-Bes I was competing with. I went to the gym and pumped a whole lot of iron and didn’t get much bigger but I got  hecka-strong. (It took a while.) I applied at every fire department hiring opportunity that came up and took the tests. First is the written – easy enough if you study hard. (You should study really hard.) Next, if you pass the written, you get to take the physical agility test. I failed the physical agility tests of first three departments I tried for, at first by a mile, and then by inches, and finally by 2/10 of a second. I went back to the gym. I applied at more fire departments and took more tests. I failed another one. Maybe two. I forget now. Once I passed, It didn’t matter, I would pass some more…

I had to fail, to learn how. I had never encountered those kinds of challenges, or even those kinds of objects, lifting and carrying heavy rolls of fire-hose, climbing the 100-foot aerial ladder, dragging the 160-pound dummy through the tunnel. (At first I only weighed 115 pounds myself.) Very early I learned two Essential Truths, and I’ll share them with you in a minute.

There are wonderful things you can learn from Brooks, that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. But there are some things you cannot learn that way. You can’t learn how to play home-run baseball…   out of a book. You can’t learn how to downhill ski… out of a book. And you can’t learn how to be a firefighter and perform the skills a firefighter must do extremely well, very quickly, and absolutely reliably… out of a book. Here comes one of those Essential Truths I mentioned. (You may want to take notes.)

Essential Truth #1: The only way to learn how to do it is to do it.

Take downhill skiing, for example. The first day when you go out to the bunny hill with awkward boots and slats for feet, what’s going to happen? Right! You fall on your butt. Not once, but many times. And there will be people around who will see you fall on your butt. Little kids will laugh. Some adults will smile smugly. Others will be annoyed because you’re messing up the good snow with your sit-splats, besides getting in everybody’s way. “She shouldn’t even be here! She doesn’t know how to ski at all.”

The next day, you will again fall on your butt in front of everybody. A lot. But probably you will be doing a little bit better, and there will be thrilling moments when just for short distances, you get it, and miraculously, it works. It feels like flying! Your heart, for sure, is flying. Now when you fall, you get up quicker, you want some more of that good feeling.

By the third or fourth day,  your spirits soar more times, for longer moments, right before each time you crash clumsily again. But now you will be up more time than down, and though not exactly smoothly or elegantly, you are skiing!

We must expect the same from our writing.  In the beginning, it’s the beginning. While the first levels of success in skiing may take a few days, writing more likely will take a few years. We’re learning how to express our gift. For every great writer, there was a beginning. Thus, Essential Truth #1 about writing: The only way you can learn how to do it is to do it. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. Oh, and the skiing is fun too.

Essential Truth #2: Failure is a necessary part of the process.

Falling down is one of the first things we do in life. It is necessary, inherent, and valuable. Failure is how we learn what to do and what not to do. There is no other way.

Besides, we never learn as much from success as we do from failure. Therefore, allow yourself this. Expect to not be a brilliant writer right away. Expect a cartload of disappointments and possibly humiliations along the way. These do not prove you are un-brilliant. They only mark a serious commitment to the truest and best expression of whatever is your unique personal gift. It will be different from most people. Most people live their whole lives without expressing their truth, not because they don’t have any gifts, but because they don’t have the enormous courage it takes to do it.

Don’t be one of those. Fly down the hill, again and again. Fall on your butt with determination, and with embarrassed, wounded, but unconquerable pride, Get up.  Fall down. Get up, keep going. You can do this,  if you want it bad enough. Because if writing is truly your path, you will do it.
__________________________________________________

*I did become a firefighter and served eight years with Alameda County OES Fire Department as a line firefighter and officer.
ofcr me w2w

 

Advertisements

#12 Trust The Inner Voice

01/03/2017

I have learned to trust my intuition and the lines that come to me in the middle of the night, I get up and write them down. So many times, this is a stream from an unseen source, but it very often, very surprisingly, tells me truths I don’t even know yet. The book I’m writing was intended as a memoir but has become more like an epistle of faith. Looking

The book I’m writing was intended as a memoir but has become more like an epistle of faith. Looking across my history and the history of my family from the  outside-in, I can see patterns and meanings I didn’t see when I was looking from the inside-out. It is being written like a letter not from my persona’s usual view, but more as if spoken from some inner voice, seen by inner eyes, uncontrived and unplanned. Whatever comes to me from this source, I write it down. If it has value, if it that rings true and real, it will stay. If it should turn out to be unimportant, it will discard itself along the way–these things take care of themselves. All of my poetry came this way – as  gifts of grace, never as the product of conscious endeavor, craft, or intention. I trust the soundless voice that speaks much more than I trust my own limited and conflicted intellect.

When I was in my twenties, an artist and a fledgling poet, I said to God “Make me your instrument.” Maybe God will finally do that, or maybe that’s the One who placed the desire there to begin  with. Either way, the prayer has not really changed much, for I have learned and relearned that by myself I can do little of real importance or significance. But when I’m driven to the page by that unnamed voice, something clear and clean and beautiful emerges into the light of ordinary day. In that moment, the ordinariness, the stories, the simple truths of life become what they have always been, but unseen: they become sacred. My response to this can only be awe, wonder, and gratefulness.


#11 It CAN Happen Here

12/25/2016

The American so-called “democratic” so-called “election” has shocked and stunned the world. I too have found this bizarre turn of history beyond my ability to bear. That this could happen in what has been a democracy shakes me profoundly. We have leapt into the abyss of mindless, godless violence, irrational hate and war, unaware that this could ever happen here. It IS happening. We are at the trembling brink of it. An irrational, power-mad dictator is already taking actions, (illegal ones because he is not yet sworn in) to start a third world war, apparently for the fun of it, and to show us all that he can. He is eagerly planning greater nuclear proliferation, and inciting countries worldwide to do the same. He is not a rational person, and his psychotic arrogance is more than dangerous, it is deadly.

From Psychology Today, via the internet:
“What is the definition of a sociopathic personality? Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Individuals with this disorder are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths.”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201305/how-spot-sociopath

Once again, “our government” has placed the LOSER of a so-called democratic election –WHO LOST BY THE LARGEST MARGIN IN HISTORY and yet was given to the LOSER of an election, into the seat of power, against the will of the people and to the shock and horror of the rest of the world.

There have been dictators before, but not here. There have been other hideous murdering madmen, many in fact – Adolf HItler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Idi Amin, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, all the ISIS wave of mindless hatred. All of these men were/are sociopaths. But not here. What they did, and what they stood for, has always been, up to now, what the U.S. has stood against, as the polar opposite of what we believe in. Now we have joined those tragedies too. We have “chosen,” even  thought it was against the will of the majority of the people, to give absolute power to a sociopath who has no allegiance toany established rules, and no regard for human life. There is evidence that the Russian leadership influenced this election as well, but even so, Trump lost the election, but was given the post of President, Commander in Chief, of our military forces, maker and destroyer of laws.

The purpose of this, I know, is Life’s way of waking us up, and it will be a terribly painful waking. There was so much to be done, and we didn’t do it. Now an utterly dehumanizing dictator will take over one of the most powerful nations of the world and PLAY with it like a video game, with no intention to serve anyone but himself, and no desire but to glorify himself, and to destroy all the other “players” and to “win.” If this sounds extreme, please Wake Up. Start by reading the truth of the matter, and realize that this person is not going to change or suddenly go sane. Now, Unless the Grace of God somehow miraculously intervenes, we are powerless to stop him.

for a detailed picture to compare that will make your blood run cold:   http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.htmlhttp://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

And so, in fear and dread and sorrow, I asked myself, What can I do? What can I, myself, possibly do? And The answer was the same one as yours – tell my truth, my story, and let the love and humanizing of it reach whatever hearts are willing to receive it, and use it in their lives to make better choices than these that now darken the skies ahead for all of us, for years, perhaps decades, to come.

We have started down the path of death. All our news and entertainment media show it – nothing but bloody guts and murders and mutilations on every channel, 24 hours a day, including commercials. We have chosen violence, war, hatred and rage of the most demonic kind, such as we have never experienced in our history of having been so blessed and free. But Freedom is too easy to poison and misdirect, and all sociopaths are masters of deception and manipulation. The deranged Emperor Trump is already moving forward as fast as possible (even though illegally)  with his actions of destruction of everything the American people have built in 300 years. He cares nothing about humanity, why should he care about law?

I entreat you to read this, all who are not afraid of the truth, and make your own judgement. http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

The voters could not stop him. We can blog, and we can talk, and we gather together to seek ways to survive this. At best, millions of us will lose our homes and our livelihoods and even their lives to one man’s insatiable greed, as he toys with global politics and upsets world trade balances display show his godlike power.

And so, Here we go, all of us, willing or not. If you are someone who prays, pray that Spirit/God/UniveralConsciousness/Allah/The Source, or whatever sacred name you know to call upon the grace of your soul’s highest power and loving protector, will find some way that we as human minds can’t see. In the meantime, we must do what is ours to do. Seek your mission, if you don’t already know it, and do commit to your highest work here. Whatever you can do to bring more of honesty, integrity, kindness even in the smallest simplest ways, do it. Love whoever you can, and forgive who you can’t. This is what we can do, and must do, to add more of that and less of hate to the world we must all live in together.

I have my work to do, my small part of whatever shall be the future for humankind. I turn again to that, and keep my own soul’s promise to do it.

The American so-called “democratic” so-called “election” has shocked and stunned the world. I too have found this bizarre turn of history beyond my ability to bear. That this could happen in what has been a democracy shakes me profoundly. We have leapt into the abyss of mindless, godless violence, irrational hate and war, unaware that this could ever happen here. It IS happening. We are at the trembling brink of it. An irrational, power-mad dictator is already taking actions, (illegal ones because he is not yet sworn in) to start a third world war, apparently for the fun of it, and to show us all that he can. He is eagerly planning greater nuclear proliferation, and inciting countries worldwide to do the same. He is not a rational person, and his psychotic arrogance is more than dangerous, it is deadly.

From Psychology Today, via the internet:
“What is the definition of a sociopathic personality? Antisocial personality disorder is characterized by a lack of regard for the moral or legal standards in the local culture. There is a marked inability to get along with others or abide by societal rules. Individuals with this disorder are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths.”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201305/how-spot-sociopath

Once again, “our government” has placed the LOSER of a so-called democratic election –WHO LOST BY THE LARGEST MARGIN IN HISTORY to be given to the loser of an election, into the seat of power, against the will of the people and to the shock and horror of the rest of the world.

There have been dictators before, but not here. There have been other hideous murdering madmen, many – Adolf HItler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Idi Amin, Benito Mussolini, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, all the ISIS wave of mindless hatred. All of these men were sociopaths. But not here. What they did, and stood for, has always been, up to now, what the U.S. has stood against, as the polar opposite of what we believe in. Now we have joined those tragedies too. We have “chosen,” even  thought it was against the will of the majority of the people, to give absolute power to a sociopath who has no allegiance toany established rules, and no regard for human life.

The purpose of this, I know, is Life’s way of waking us up, and it will be a terribly painful waking. There was so much to be done, and we didn’t do it. Now an utterly dehumanizing dictator (unless the Grace of God somehow unexpectedly intervenes) will take over one of the most powerful nations of the world and PLAY with it like a video game, with no intention to serve anyone but himself, and no desire but to glorify himself, and to destroy all the other “players” and to “win.” If this sounds extreme, please Wake Up. Start by reading the truth of the matter, and realize that this person is not going to change or suddenly go sane.

for a detailed picture to compare that will make your blood run cold:   http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.htmlhttp://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

And so, in fear and dread and sorrow, I asked myself, What can I do? What can I, myself, possibly do? And The answer was the same one as yours – tell my truth, my story, and let the love and humanizing of it reach whatever hearts are willing to receive it, and use it in their lives to make better choices than these that now darken the skies ahead for all of us, for years, perhaps decades, to come.

We have started down the path of death. All our news and entertainment media show it – nothing but bloody guts and murders and mutilations on every channel, 24 hours a day, including commercials. We have chosen violence, war, hatred and rage of the most demonic kind, such as we have never experienced in our history of having been so blessed and free. But Freedom is too easy to poison and misdirect, and all sociopaths are masters of deception and manipulation. The deranged Emperor Trump is already moving forward as fast as possible (even though illegally)  with his actions of destruction of everything the American people have built in 300 years. He cares nothing about humanity, why should he care about law?

I entreat you to read this, all who are not afraid of the truth, and make your own judgement. http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html

The voters could not stop him. We can blog, and we can talk, and we gather together to seek ways to survive this. At best, millions of us will lose our homes and our livelihoods and even their lives to one man’s insatiable greed, as he toys with global politics and upsets world trade balances display show his godlike power.

And so, Here we go, all of us, willing or not. If you are someone who prays, please pray that Spirit/God/UniveralConsciousness/Allah/The Source, or whatever sacred name you know to call upon the guidance and grace of your soul’s highest power and loving protector, will find some way that we as human minds can’t yet see. In the meantime, we must do what is ours to do.

Seek your mission, if you don’t already know it, and do commit to your highest work here. Whatever you can do to bring more of honesty, integrity, kindness even in the smallest simplest ways, do it. Love whoever you can, and forgive who you can’t. This is what we can do, and must do, to add more of this, and less of hate to the world we must all live in together.

I have my work to do, my small part of whatever shall be the future for humankind. I turn again to that, and keep my own soul’s promise to do it.


#10 Real Books Will Live On

12/10/2016

 

When the Internet was born, they said traditional books would soon die out, but so far the opposite has happened. People are buying and reading more books than ever. E-books, though easily accessible, have not caught on as readily as expected. I think it’s partly because they simply are not as satisfying as a real book you can hold in your hands and sit by the fire all cozy and lovely, while another world comes alive with the delicious turning of real pages.

I went to a poetry reading in Berkeley last night. I thought it was an open reading, so I brought some of my poems. It wasn’t. It was a group that meets once a month to read poetry from books,  anything from Keats to Dickinson to Ferlinghetti, nothing too “edgy” or avant-garde. It was a small group of adults with knowledgeable tastes. It was old-fashioned and surprisingly refreshing.

We read from thick anthologies and thin paperbacks of individual poets we personally liked. I read from Wilfred Owen, a rather obscure poet of World War I, whose very beautiful poetry was the first to use consonantal rhyme. He was a significant trailblazer, though he was not recognized for this in his lifetime. Most of the credit for this went to a more well-known  but much less innovative contemporary named Sassoon, who urged Owen to return to the battlefield at the front lines, where he was mortally wounded and died.

I still love books, real books. Solid physical-entity books with hardcovers and paper pages sometimes old and gilt-edged, sturdily bound, built to last.

Books are important to the future of the world for a lot of reasons, but the first one that comes to me is that they connect us to some of humanity’s finest moments, deepest feelings, and highest thoughts, so that those are not lost.

Real books are not trivial. Real books are not temporary, not made to be disposable like Styrofoam cups and razor blades and 90% of what’s on the Internet today, mostly “throwaway” art and culture, existing only in thin air or the flickering flash of the small screens of cold, hard, “devices.”

E-books are useful of course, entertaining, informative, or educational, but they serve a limited temporary function and then are automatically discarded when the screen goes dark.

Real books, living physical-entity books, have an inherent permanence that few things in our world have today. Style, legend, and legacy are easily lost on the Internet,  swallowed up and drowned in the ocean of minutiae, trivia, intelligentsia, jibber-jabber, in the rude, “edgy” and soulless fashion of our culture, in which there is too much of everything, and so, as much as possible is designed to be disposable and as brief as possible. “How RU? Im fyn.C U latr”  Sorry, that’s not enough for me.

I don’t do trivial. I don’t do throwaway art. If that’s what you’re looking for, pass on by.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-1-15-39-pm
Read some stories: http://w2w.victoriachames.com/sampler.html


%d bloggers like this: