The Path Forward (100 word challenge)

As you can tell, my posts seem to be following a theme this week. Please forgive. ;)

The sun shone but could not penetrate the shadowy darkness under the trees, except in tiny ribbons reflecting through dancing leaves. Elaina could only see a few feet down the rough dirt path. She hesitated, looking back, before entering the dimness, fearful of what lay ahead. Four steps in and the silence grew overpowering. Her skin tingled with the feeling of eyes watching, hidden in the depths of the silent trees. “You can do this,” she whispered to herself. “Your future lies ahead.” Slowly she moved deeper into the mysterious trees, accompanied only by the knowledge that this was the path meant for her.

Thanks to Teresita, who managed to provide another perfect image to reflect the thoughts I am trying to portray with this post. Visit her original post for a lovely walk in the woods today.

Simultaneous Stories

I wake up and somewhere a child falls asleep. I turn on my computer to start writing a blog post, and another blogger starts typing hers.  People dance in one part of the world while people die in another.

I walk outside to answer the call of the moon, and elsewhere others see the same moon as I do, while still more rise to worship the sun.

We all live simultaneous stories.

This movie intrigues me for a number of reasons. One is simply that one of my high school friends contributed to it. But, the idea of simultaneous stories intersects all of my writing lately.

Stories are what connect us and what divide us. As a newborn takes his first breathe in one part of the world, an old woman might breathe her last. Those breathes are connected through time and space.

As a couple consummate their love for one another in an elaborate hotel room or the backseat of a car, another one breaks apart in irretrievable pieces. Those stories connect through symbolism and meaning.

As our government falls apart in the face of greed and stupidity, people all over the country struggle to pay their bills, feed their children, and take their medicine. Those stories are connected by a lack of understanding.

As we live our lives securely here, someone dies brutally there. Sadly, those stories too are connected, because the explanation for them lies in belief systems that cannot meet half way, as well as a greed and a hunger for power that corrupts the stories of all human kind.

In the link between stories, between lives, between souls we touch, lie the stories that we all know, feel, live and breathe. All cultures have common stories, told in different ways. All cultures have their demons, their ghosts, their creation myths, and their justifications of existence. All cultures have their jokes, and their songs, and their fairy tales. All cultures have their stories, and they only differ in details, not in essence.

All cultures have the stories told around campfires or while  snuggled in under the covers of darkness.

These are the stories I want to write. These are the stories I want to share. These are the stories I want to hear.

“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” —Harold Goddard

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire and share each others stories. Help me, my friends, link those stories together in a glowing web of understanding and hope.

I am the Storyteller, but I am not the only one. Together we tell the stories we all need to hear. Together we create the stories of life.

Together we are The Storyteller.

And if life is a story, then we have the right to choose how that story ends. We can choose our own destruction, or we can recognize the ties that join us and create a story that allows room for us all.

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire to share our stories.

All Stories Have Value

I spent yesterday in a car, driving Nathan up to Okoboji, IA for the summer. Well, he did all the actual driving, I just watched the scenery go by along with the intimidating clouds and lightning strikes. It took us about 9 1/2 hours, including stops to walk the dogs and a quick trip to Trader Joe’s in Omaha.

On the way we listened to downloaded NPR shows including “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” and “This American Life,” and “The Moth.”

I heard stories. Stories big and stories small. Stories that affect the world, and stories that affected only individuals. And I realized, all stories have value. My story has value.

I want to be a storyteller, because through stories life gains value.

The trip hasn’t been without a little angst. I bring Nathan to a place that wants him, values him, but doesn’t really want or value me. I don’t really belong here, despite the fact that I have a lot to offer this place.

Last summer in Okoboji

But, I now realize that is part of my story. My story involves me learning to let go of jealousy, resentment, frustration. My story involves learning from the journey and learning from others.

My story is all that I have to offer you. In exchange, I hope you will share your story with me. Together our stories have power, beauty, and life.

Once More into the Wild

“Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Many thanks to Hilary Clark from Pining for Poetry and Prose for pointing that quote out to me today, as today I feel lost in the wilderness, unsure of which direction to choose. But perhaps the direction does not matter. I just need to take a step and forge my way through the underbrush, embracing and learning from whatever comes into my path.

Words fail me today. I cannot interpret the mass of thoughts jumbling around my brain. I cannot describe the heaviness I feel deep inside.

A Prose Poem

An image keeps popping into my mind of a dark forest. Here and there, amidst the trees are doors of every shape and size. Some simple, some elegant, some austere, some intimidating. None of them have windows. All of them have locks.

All is stillness and silence.

Far ahead in the distance there is a flutter of filmy cloth. A lavender curtain decorating an open window. The breeze blows through, carrying on it the tinkle of bird song and a laughing stream. I cannot feel the breeze yet, but I know that if I could it would bring elusive scents of beauties unknown. The window is bathed in golden light, with hints of green. A glittering green vine has climbed over the windowsill  reaching tendrils through into the heavy dark forest; but the guardian trees will allow no breach of color and light.

The window beckons but I don’t see a clear path to get there. I fear the doors that lead to places forbidden because someone could come crashing through to bar my way. I fear the leafless trees that reach their crooked hands toward me, threatening to trap me in a merciless grasp.

And yet I move one foot forward. The window beckons.

A Journey into the Wilderness

[Submitted to Poetry Potluck Week 36--Sketches, Images, and Impressions]

Notes on Nothing, Notes on Everything.

I’m making a double N post today, because the post I just posted about Nathan wasn’t the one I originally started with and because I have been up since 3am but still cannot sleep. I understand if you choose not to read all of my posts. :) But, to quote a comment from Kaye Peters of Have Coffee . . . Will Write on one of my recent posts, “you’re posting like a woman possessed”. Possessed . . . manic . . . whatever, I’m simply going with the flow right now. So here are a few notes:

More Marsha Norman

“Write what you urgently need to write.” Those were Marsha Norman’s words  when asked if she had ever returned to a work she gave up on. “If it is over two years, don’t try to go back.”

Now, of course she was talking specifically about writing plays, but her point resonated with me. Basically she argued that if you are still struggling with something after two years, then maybe that is not the story that you need to tell. Maybe it is not your story to tell.

I have so many stories that I began but never finished. I have so many possible plans for books and other writing ideas that I couldn’t follow through. I have also always thought that I have a story that I have yet to discover, a story that truly needs to be told. It grows inside me until someday, I hope, it will burst out of me. The words will speak through me.

I just hope that happens soon.

She also talked about characters speaking through her, rather than her creating them.  I have only had a few moments where that has happened. Where the words and the voice of the character just poured through me and into my fingers. It is a powerful sensation, and one I yearn to feel again.

I want to be open and receptive to that energy.

New Thanks

Much to my surprise, yesterday I was honored with another blogging award. The Inspiring Blog award given to me by Dierdre Coppel from A Story Book World.  Talk about inspiring, Dierdre is an incredibly talented writer and artist who does everything from creating her own artwork (including this beautiful award among others) and interviewing publishers and editors, to writing fantasies and delving into the paranormal. I am truly honored that she chose me for this award. Please go visit her site. You won’t regret it.

New Updates

  • My scene seems to be getting good responses. Rumor has it that M.N. might come see it today.
  • My panel went well and led to an interesting discussion on the value of theater in general
  • I apologize for falling behind on reading this week, but I am proud of myself for regaining a little control over this blogging obsession of mine. :)
  • I actually submitted my Moon Lady, which I’ve really titled “Rebirth of Japan” to an art show. Insanity, I know.

I think that is all for now except that I feel like everyone out there (myself included) needs another  good virtual hug. So here you go (and I know I have used this image before, but how can you go wrong with Calvin and Hobbes?)

The Moon Calls

The Woman moves silently through the sleeping household, pulling on a silken bathrobe as she cautiously makes her way toward the sliding back door.

The tide surges in her blood and she cannot sleep. She hears a mysterious call that echoes from inside her head, if only she could understand what the voice was saying.

She slides open the door and steps out into the night air. A cool breeze whispers more secrets as it ruffles her hair gently. The sounds of night hesitate for only a moment, sensing the intruder in their midst. The moon speaks to them in its own language, but this time the woman understands, “Have no fear.”

The creatures of the night resume their songs. In the distance, a dog howls, joined by other dogs in an unearthly serenade.

The woman steps forward, the damp grass seeping through her slipper clad feet. She heeds the call and walks towards the glowing orb that lights misty clouds with warm gold. Moon mother beams down, a benevolent smile on her face.

The Woman finds herself walking in a field full of whispering grasses. The scent of night-blooming jasmine fills the air, along with other scents that hint of spices and flowers unknown. Despite the night sky, the Woman almost sees the colors of flowers peeking out in the moonlight; faint whispers of the glorious kaleidoscope they share during the day.

Her heart thrums with the song of the moon, “Come closer, my children, one and all! The time has come for you to embrace your power.”

The Woman suddenly becomes aware that she is not alone in the field. Other women  slowly make their way towards the call of the moon, floating in the same dream that carried her to this field of mystery. Every age, every size, every race, every color of hair. They wear pajamas, and nightgowns, bathrobes, and party clothes. Some are barely dressed. But nobody seems to care.

Most walk alone, but some come hand-in-hand, their smiles reflecting the joyous glow of the moon.

As they approach each other, they share hugs of silent welcome. They do not exchange words, but no words are necessary.  They form a grand circle with the moon at the very center.

“Hear my song, daughters one-and-all,” the moon calls. “Your time is coming. Our time is coming. But it will not be easy. We must be strong, and we must learn to battle hatred with wisdom and love. We must learn to share power with each other, rather than grasp power with greed. We must learn to look for peace and true justice without heeding the calls of those who will call us wicked or sinners, for they have embodied a story written by man. We must discard that story and relearn the stories of women. We must share that story with those men who are willing to hear, to learn, to change.  We must embrace the nature that surrounds us, and welcome all creatures great and small into our bosoms. If you are willing to do this, then you have my blessings and will carry a piece of my song with you to help guide you on your journey.”

“If you can do this, speak with your heart and I will hear.”

The Woman hesitates for a moment, but then sees the smiles on some of the faces near her. Warmth spreads through her body starting from her womb. Her own hands seem to glitter with an inner light. This was the call she had been waiting to hear.

Some women look fearful and turn away, breaking into runs to escape the glade.

The women who remain form a closer circle, holding hands in unity, not fear. The Woman looks at the faces in the circle and sees wisdom and beauty in all shapes and sizes.  These are my sisters, she thinks to herself.

“Speak with your heart,” the moon sings.

The Woman’s heart feels too big for her chest, and she hears it pumping more warmth through her body. Its beating creates a drum-song in her ears. She feels the need to sing in rhythm with the beat. She closes her eyes and begins a wordless song. Suddenly, she hears the voices of all the remaining women join her in a chorus that is led by the beating of their hearts. They create a chord of pure love that reaches up to the heavens, and the moon joins them in glorious symphony.

As one they stop and silent joy fills the glade.

“We are one,” the moon says. “Take the message to the world.”

With that all the women hug again, tears pouring down their faces. Not, however, tears of sadness but tears of cleansing joy.

They turn back to their homes.

The Woman returns to bed. She sleeps, only to waken the next morning with a song in her heart and a new sense of purpose.

She starts the day humming the message of the moon.

The Legacies We Leave

I just finished reading The Swan Thieves and, as I wrote earlier, it has affected me in numerous ways. Kostova writes complex and beautiful stories, that interweave history with romance, mystery with darkness, and introduce  complex characters that seem to have really lived. while I’m not sure I liked this book as much as The Historian I have to acknowledge that Kostova is an amazing weaver of tales.

But this post is not about her.

I started thinking about the things that survive the centuries–things that people go out of their way to preserve and pass on from generation to generation.  As I see it, those things fall into two categories; ART and WORDS. Now, I’m using these terms to encompass a lot of different things. Art can include painting and photographs, building and sculptures, sketches and clothing. Words include books and letters, speeches and sermons, plays and sketches,  journals and advice. In one form or another art and words are preserved and handed down.

Think about it. There are numerous war stories where efforts were made to preserve art. Lives being destroyed through bombs and death, and yet communities gather around to preserve paintings and books that represent the historical  past.

Why do we do this? It’s simple really. Art, architecture and words all tell  our stories in ways that can continue, even if we don’t have descendants and end up a pile of bones. Bones can only reveal stories to the people who know how to read them. But art and words can be shared (in some form) by all.

As there are more and more attacks on arts funding, and more attempts to minimize the value of the arts in education and society, I have to wonder what messages will remain from our time. If we don’t destroy everything on earth, will there be any stories or art that tells future historians about our lives? Will the visitors from other universes who eventually stumble upon the remnants of  our civilization be able to  find images and words that spark mystery and conversation to spur them on to more acts of creativity as they try to tell our story. Or, will all that remains be dust and useless goods?

I apologize for the morbidity of this post. I didn’t really mean that, I’m just wondering–will we leave behind a legacy of destruction or one of beauty?

I choose art. I choose words.