Monthly Archives: April 2019

Rough Beauty

Primary Colors © Julia Haris

This week’s entry:

 

From: Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life
by Frederic Brussat, Mary Ann Brussat, Thomas Moore (Foreword)

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The Westeros Edition

“I am no ordinary woman. My dreams come true.”

— Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and

Mother of Dragons

 

I envy those who have not yet watched Battlestar Galactica (Reimagined), and I envy those who have not yet read One Hundred Years Of Solitude.

Both are sweeping epics of high mythology coupled to master storytelling.  To allow a great story to embrace and penetrate you is to lose yourself to larger realities. It is to enter the perennial, irreconcilable themes of good and evil, the misery and atonement of our human frailty, and to participate in the collective DNA written wisdom found in first-rate storytelling’s grand themes.

One thing that great myths-as-stories do is take the story wheel and fashion it in new, unexpected ways, and with unpredictable results.  Battlestar Galactica and One Hundred Years of Solitude weave stunning mythologies of character, religion, and cosmology in novel, inventive ways. In One Hundred Years, poetry and metaphor permeate every history as myth element; in BSG sci-fi’s small screen imaginative limits blow wide open.

Both works have knock-your-socks-off, breathtaking endings.

Some people love these brilliant if unexpected endings, some people hate them. Howard Stern loudly hated the ending of Battlestar Galactica. I suspect he was too literal about the storyline, and he wanted some things clearly answered. (His biggest gripe was about Starbuck, which tells me he missed the point.)

Grand mythic cosmologies require an appreciation for ambiguity and the irresolvable; some cannot tolerate their stories without clean seams. They need distinct lines drawn from point A to point B. Others not only love the empty space between A and B, they think that’s what makes the story magical, memorable, compelling, unforgettable, repeatable, enviable.

It’s in the space of the unknown that one “leaps beyond” what can be known. This leap is what these big stories invite: embracing those things that keep us searching, questioning, creating, the things that will always elude our grasp.

To enter worlds like Battlestar Galactica or One Hundred Years Of Solitude for the first time is like falling in love: in those narrative moments, you want to be nowhere but in that world, you want to be only with those characters, and you yearn to see what the next chapter or installment brings

[BSG spoiler follows below. Scroll down to the asterisk break to avoid.]

I stumbled on Battlestar Galactica well after it originally aired. I remember even in the early episodes it had an odd personal resonance, a resonance that soon became clearer. My life in Cambridge was dissolving; everything was falling apart on every front.  It’s as though my life and Galactica’s were connected, we were both coming undone, and we were both looking for a home.

Starbuck became a metaphor for my survival.

She died.  I died.  She resurrected then completed her mission.

I believed that I could, at the very least, resurrect yet one more time.

“Just trust yourself. . . There must be some kind of way out of here.”

And BSG has incredible music by Bear McCreary that along with brilliant editing ties film, story, acting, and special effects together in superlative ways.

Music, story, character, cosmology — all these came together for me in a creative, empowering, dare I write, redemptive Big Bang.

***

Sunday night, another epic begins its finale, Game Of Thrones season 8 episode 1 airs.

I’ve not read any of Martin’s books. My reading list is a century-long, and my time is filled with enough. I’m content to guiltlessly sink into HBO’s Westeros reality.

What an adventure it’s been.

For those of us besotted of high Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Game Of Thrones has been a bloody, incestuous mythic joy-ride.

“Hold-the-door” is now a metaphorical reference in my repertoire, and I think it is a perfect metaphor in the era of 45, even if the reference is only understood by the GOT faithful.

“Hold-the-door,” one of the small screen’s greatest moments, no exaggeration.

It’s bittersweet knowing that Westeros’ history will end, soon. Within the next couple of months, we’ll have the story’s resolutions, and a great myth’s circle comes to a close.

I envy those of you who haven’t seen it yet.  When the time is right, you have truly great storytelling moments waiting. To experience for the first time the thrill of the unexpected twists, the pleasure of imagination pushed to the limits, the glory of big characters, the delight of gorgeous scenery and costumes, the discovery of great heroes, the resolve of even greater heroines, and the tense bucking up to endure truly hideous and complex villains.

Oh, yes, and most important, dragons!

Dragons! Dragons! Dragons!

If you haven’t seen it yet, maybe watch the first episodes of Season One.  It’s an epic, so you need to start where all great epics do, “In the beginning . . .”


For those of you who have watched the series, I invite you to share your season 8 theories.

I’d enjoy reading your take on what you think will happen on the way to The Iron Throne.

 

(Images taken from public domain .gif and .jpeg sources.)

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The Un-Story Edition

 

Unfolding © Julia Haris

 

On this website’s ’About’ page, I write:

As a memoirist and storyteller, I believe that questioning the stories we hold true, writing new ones from power and possibility, and living deeply and intentionally from our revisions is life’s greatest journey.

I assume a lot in that sentence, including:

First, unless we go through some process of personal transformation, we will be the product of other people’s stories, no matter how much freedom those stories promise.  The stories we inherit or adopt can be political, religious, or even “spiritual.”  But there has to be an awakening born from places beyond the stories, and that awakening has to be given the time and space to unfold.  Only then do the stories fall away, little by little.  Many of us get attached to a narrative or series of narratives, and we then try to make everything fit within our attachments.  There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s often a starting point, but if the attachment obscures further growth, we’ve shortchanged ourselves — and others. In this regard, that approach is self-defeating, no matter how many ‘amens’ or ‘namastes’ one slaps on.

Second, the power to write and rewrite our stories comes from places beyond language.  Any story that tells you language or symbols contain some ultimate truth has flatlined the story’s meaning; language, stories, and symbols are pointers.  In this sense, fundamentalist religion and intellectual over-identification share the same fallacy, excessive mind identification. More important, though language and symbols are pointers, they are also reality creators, meaning  they can either point you toward deeper, better, expansive realities, or they can reinforce bad patterns that keep the mind engaged and distracted. That’s why how we speak and what we focus on matters: our life, its values, and its expressions change as we consciously get better at navigating the reality we’re creating.  This evolving, expanding freedom is sometimes called ‘grace,’ and it’s marked, in part, by growing personal authenticity.

Finally, all stories fall away before all that Is.  Language is only a tool.  Life and our awareness of it beyond our neurotic attachments are what beckon, that is, life’s is-ness

Language is a great human crown, but it is a hard taskmaster if it controls us.

Our redemption lies in stillness, the inner gateways beyond language.

By cultivating a relationship with inner awareness, we begin to see how much we’ve been trapped by our stories, and how much we live in unnecessary constructs: religion’s stories, society’s stories, family stories, our stories.

Not all of our stories are bad, and many help us to act in ways that serve ourselves and others.  But often we’re not mindful that a story or series of stories has lodged itself within us as a way of being, and these stories still control large swaths of our life as we unconsciously and detrimentally hold these stories as true in too many places.

Un-storying ourselves is ‘weeding’ [remembering that so-called weeds are often good] the soul, getting rid of the stories we don’t want. We can then plant and let grow what we do want, in life’s every area. I don’t believe this weeding happens in psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic practices, although the right professional relationship may support our evolution/development/self-actualization. Cultivating awareness is a journey into one’s own soul and self that no one can define or dictate by way of language; it’s a way of knowing and being that unfolds from within us.

It is a soul enfolding that is Universal and ever unfolding.

This entry is another imperfect pointer, a personal un-story that’s cleared a little more soul space.

How is your un-story going today?

 

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