Chapter 5 is now available to read FREE on WattPad!
“It is for the elder man to rule and the younger to submit.” ~Plato
Though the ancient Greeks were not the first and last to adhere to that mindset we must ask ourselves if it is time for a paradigm shift.
Have we arrived at a juncture in our evolution where Old-World opinions must be substituted with ideas more appropriate for the modern mind?
For if we are to raise our children to be adequately prepared to make the world better than we will leave it, then it is incumbent upon us to divert from the philosophies of our elders that have hindered progress.
The Cold War is over.
The animosity we collectively had against Russia dissipated in the public consciousness for the better part of the past two and a half decades after the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union.
Referring to Communist Russia, prior to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. would be beneficial for us to review because there are parallels with Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule, which remind us of the dangers of Socialism.
Not for the purposes of fueling the flames of propaganda, but because history is a great teacher.
Saddam, a Socialist, patterned his form of governing after Joseph Stalin, the Russian leader who ruled under the concept of “Socialism in One Country.”
Let’s assume, for a moment, any criticisms of Capitalism are predicated on greed, and hunger for power.
I will concede that is a harsh reality.
Greed and hunger for power though are not exclusive to monetary gain, and the moment we compromise the protection provided under the Constitution by foregoing a Republic in favor of a Socialist form of government, we are in danger of being powerless against any leader who assumes that role.
Is Britain an ideal country to migrate to?
They tax their people through the nose.
Should we choose to move to Germany?
There’s a limit to personal freedoms like choosing your vocation and educational path and being stuck with it, which also limits employment options beyond your educational training if you get laid-off, or fired.
The Socialists are currently falling out of favor with the public. The Socialist government has failed to prevent French automakers from outsourcing factories, and now thousands of workers are not only left unemployed, but there now exists a rift between the staunch left-wing Socialists and the pro-business Socialists.
This on the heels of a controversial move to loosen France’s labor laws…
Yet, some claim these countries have far better systems than the United States?
Not to mention that all of the aforementioned countries are members of the European Union, which is on the brink of collapse.
Where do we go from here?
With all the ranting from celebrities who stand on their soap boxes and claim they are leaving the U.S. what choice do the rest of us have?
As much as celebrities claim they relate to us, we do not possess the means to simply move our families to another country, and truth is, despite their demands that wealthy Republicans part with their fortunes for the poor they themselves wouldn’t spend a dime of their own fortunes to help us move.
Do we truly expect to find a solution elsewhere?
Why would we even consider it when we frequently share memes about “working through difficulties?”
Or do we merely post such statements to appear committed to our cause?
What do we hope to teach our children by fleeing when we must lead by example?
For several hours a day we trust our children to an educational system that has scarcely evolved in over half a century.
Before I proceed, let me make it clear that I do not fault teachers for the following facts, because in truth it is the government’s mishandling of the educational system that crippled progress.
In 2015, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of its global rankings on student performance in mathematics, reading, and science, on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA.
The PISA is a worldwide exam administered every three years that measures 15-year-olds in 72 countries. About 540,000 students took the exam in 2015.
The U.S. ranked 35th in Math (well below the OECD average), 22nd in Reading, 25th in Science…it serves to note that in all three categories the U.S. dropped from its previous rankings in 2012 (the last time the test was administered).
Do we continue to allow the government to interfere given the most recent failed experiment, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2001? (Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault for that disaster).
It emerged out of concern that the American education system was no longer internationally competitive—significantly increased the federal role in holding schools responsible for the academic progress of all students, and placed a special focus on ensuring that states and schools boost the performance of certain groups of students, such as English-language learners, students in special education, and poor and minority children, whose achievement, on average, trailed their peers.
A noble cause, to be sure, but how did our elected officials determine they were going to make this a successful campaign?
Among the myriad of blunders, the Federal government did not force States to comply with the new requirements, but later threatened them with the loss of federal Title I money if they didn’t.
How was this even logical?
Though States were required to bring all students to the “proficient level” on state tests, each state was permitted to divergently determine their own definition of “proficiency,” and which tests to use.
After a series of waivers, such as no longer being required to meet prior mandates, and no longer being required to meet the deadline for proficiency standards…
…the government instituted teacher evaluation systems, while failing to raise and allocate the funds necessary for schools to improve their ability to provide students with the necessary tools and resources to succeed.
The goal, as I understand it, was to bridge the gap between high performing students/schools and low performing students/schools.
Though when it became evident that this endeavor would not be achieved, one solution presented was to lower the bar of proficiency by hindering the progress of high performing schools/students to minimize that gap.
How does this adequately prepare our children to be competitive in an ever-globalizing marketplace?
Which brings us to our current conundrum, the Bill to Abolish the Department of Education.
Let’s be honest, that is not going to happen.
That. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.
In truth, the presentation of this Bill is merely political posturing by politicians on both side of the line. Yet, once again we are afforded an opportunity to learn from the past.
History is a great teacher.
The Cold War is over, but the mentality instilled in us during that time has permeated the collective consciousness of the American people of the new millennium. It was during the era of the Cold War when we were indoctrinated with the notion that freedom was exclusive to America. We were raised to believe in our own superiority, perpetuated our condescension, consumed this potion of pride that has us intoxicated on narcissism, and it is these misconceptions that have skewed our perception of reality.
This, I daresay, is a consequence of an educational system guided by the manipulative hand of politicians who are more concerned with preserving our memory of the past rather than learning from it.
Akin to Socialism, the power of individual teachers—who are committed to our children—is limited by government officials who prefer a system that perpetuates false notions and perceptions of the world rather than to adequately prepare us for competing in it and changing it for the better.
As long as our educational system remains under the yoke of the federal government it will remain an archaic institution limited by the powers bestowed on it by politicians who would prefer to divert funds into the pockets of lobbyists in lieu of investing in our children’s future.
Could we—like the Communist Russia—have entered an Era of Stagnation without having realized it?
Source: THE SPY BY PAUL COELHO
“Until rulers have the nature of philosophers or philosophers become the rulers, there can be no civic peace or happiness.
In a recent debate with someone who suggested that certain public services were Socialist programs: fire departments, law enforcement, public schools, and Medicare…I felt inclined to clarify that such services are designed to perform a basic function in society. Regardless of employment prosperity, or lack thereof, and even if no one was in danger of being homeless or starved; there would always remain a need for these services for the sake of maintaining order and safety.
Socialism, as history has determined, has been more about consolidating resources and redistributing them to certain groups of people for the sake of quality of life.
For example: In Ancient Mesopotamia… Lagash, a metropolis with a rich history was the first to enact the idea of redistribution of goods by way of taxing the wealthy to give to the poor.
Urukagina was the Patesi (elected king, if you will), who came from a wealthy family, but renounced his wealth for the sake of helping the poor is recognized as the first reformer and who enacted policies similar to modern day Liberal-thinking.
Some called him the first Jimmy Carter.
It won him great favor among the masses, at first.
Most of the wealthy class, and even the priests, however, despised him for this because it took money out of their pockets.
Mind you, he did this during a time when Lagash was still frequently at war with the rival city-state of Umma over water rights and land.
Eventually, Urukagina’s push to tax the wealthy more than the poor, and then to redistribute that wealth among the poor led the wealthy to leave to surrounding city-states, and some even found refuge in Umma.
The thing historians discovered was that without a wealthy class to contribute to the “bank” for the redistribution of funds there remained no one to provide the poor with a means to buy food or pay for services/goods.
It proved to be an early study, in retrospect, of human behavior, because without the incentive to earn more income the ambition of the poor was basically extinguished by the good intentions of their leader.
(Human nature has repeatedly shown us that when you take away a person’s incentive to earn their own keep…they won’t bother to find a way to earn on their own. This isn’t the case with everyone, but consider how Illinois’ system has hindered progress compared to welfare systems in other states, like Wisconsin that require a tier system of progress to essentially ease someone off of the assistance program.)
Back to history:
Eventually the merchants fled the city too, because again…there was no one to PAY for services and goods.
Who is left to tax, if the poor aren’t paying enough in taxes to contribute to military for defenses? After-all, the military (soldiers) were the guard and the police of the city-state during that time.
Eventually, Lagash had no fiscal means to defend itself and Umma FINALLY… after hundreds of years being defeated by their nemesis, overtook Lagash.
They destroyed the city…and it was basically lost to the sands of time.
This led to the emergence of Lugal-Zagesi, king of Umma who sought to build the world’s first empire, but who eventually fell to Sargon the Great.
Socialism was not seen again until after the Middle Ages.
In more recent times, Socialist Russia proved how dangerous a Socialist government can be to the poor.
Another individual criticized my reference to Russia, and suggested that countries like Sweden, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, and France “have far better systems” established in lieu of the corruption, lobbying and wage income gap that perpetuates a separation of Classes in the United States.
And though I am aware of how other nations have utilized Socialism, I contended that it’s not always as cut-and-dry as one might think. There’s a myriad of intricacies to how it functions…and in many cases other factors of governing must be compromised, which American’s are seldom willing to do.
With regard to Russia…
I referenced Russia as an example of how dangerous a Socialist government can be because there is documentation of how resources were pooled from the vast farmland throughout the countryside to provide food for the masses in the more densely populated cities/regions of the country.
The consequence led many farmers’ families to starve. To the point where mothers had to kill off an infant in order to have enough food to feed her older children who helped out on the farm.
That’s not propaganda…that’s history.
Though this individual takes umbrage with overlooking the thriving Democratic countries where Capitalism does not exist, he proposed a conversation about what works for those free and Democratic countries.
I had to remind him that the United States is a Republic, a Republic that has thrived on Capitalism.
For a successful paradigm shift from one form of government to another, there must be a change in the core philosophy of governing; otherwise the conflict will merely be exacerbated.
He argued that “Capitalism is not in the constitution,” and I was glad he did, because I asked him to elaborate on where it states in the Constitution that Socialism not only equates to a better way of life, but also substantiates it as a necessary form of government to that end.
He was unable, or unwilling to do so, but to be fair I argued that one couldn’t postulate, “Capitalism is not in the Constitution without substantiating said claim.”
I made that statement because such a supposition seemed to be predicated more on merely making a reference to the Constitution (given that it seems to be the “word of the day,”) than actually having an understanding of how the Constitution correlates to government.
Case in point: the Guarantee Clause of the US Constitution Article 4, Section 4, Clause 1:
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.”
Not to be confused with the Republican Party.
The Republicanism as written by our Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers, and a myriad of other writings, refers to a political philosophy and not merely an unsubstantiated notion.
For, in truth, a Republic requires strong and healthy private and civil sectors in which citizens pursue their own ambitions backed by a public sphere limited to enumerated powers.
Enumerated powers, as listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution allows Congress to exercise powers granted by the Constitution.
Whereas a Socialist government, akin to monarchism, relies on a strong and healthy sovereign public sphere that oversees a small portion of the private and civil sectors in which the PEOPLE have LIMITED scope of action.
In short, consider this…
In a Republic, education should be what the people make it. Perhaps that means we should let professionals who best understand how to teach and how to create curriculums to maximize a student’s potential do their job without government interference.
Does this remind anyone of how vehemently we have argued against the recent appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education?
Instead, however we turned education into a state indoctrination in the public sector with disastrous results, in that children aren’t free to practice their civil liberties and freedoms. Think of the controversial decision to cease the daily practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the school day. Primarily because a group of Individuals expressed discontent with the words, “one nation, under God…”
This is a simple form of how the public’s freedom and power is shifted away from the citizens and into the hands of government. Basically, this is reflective of how things unfold when the paradigm shift goes from Republicanism to Socialism.
The Constitution clearly supports the former, not the ladder.
“Anyone who holds a true opinion without understanding is like a blind man on the right road.” ~Socrates
Though he left no writings of his own, his legacy reaches us across centuries through his student, Plato, teacher of Aristotle, and the Academy of Athens. Legend holds that within the confines of the Academy there stood a sacred grove of olive trees that even the ruthless Spartans would not ravage when they invaded Attica.
If only the Romans had displayed that sense of respect and restraint, perhaps the trees might reach us across the grove and across time.
Which begs the question, “How will history remember us?”
What will history remember us for accomplishing, creating, and destroying?
We remember our Founding Fathers for daring to not only abscond from the yoke of an oppressive monarchy, but to venture across oceans to establish a new form of government in an unfamiliar land.
This was not an undertaking for us to presume, in hindsight, as achieved expediently and without obstacle, for in truth it was anything but either.
Though most of us clearly recall history lessons that recounted specific moments of that era: Plymouth Rock, the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary war…we remain mostly ignorant of the intricacies of building a nation.
Republic or Democracy.
Which did we choose, and why?
Let’s recall a few words from the daily ritual most of us remember as the Pledge of Allegiance, “and to the Republic for which it stands.”
Among the most significant events in the history of the United States was the Constitutional Convention, where records prove that framers of the Constitution denounced the “excesses of democracy.”
What does that mean, exactly?
First, let us review the true definition of a Democracy. A rule by Omnipotent Majority. To be more precise, in a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.
Consider the consequences of such a form of government. The power of the Majority remains absolute and unlimited; where the decisions cannot be appealed under the established legal system, which creates the conundrum of Tyranny by Majority and permits abuses under any Democracy of the unalienable rights of The Individual.
The importance of these truths was not lost on our Founding Fathers given the royal tyranny they were familiar with of previous generations.
The Constitution provided early Americans with a fundamental law under the Republic which it created to protect, for the first time, the security of their liberties against abuse by all possible violators, including The Majority momentarily in control of government.
They chose a Republic as the proper form of government because they knew, in light of history, that nothing but a Republic can provide the most efficient defense—for the long term—when perpetuated in practice for the liberties of the people, which are inescapably victimized by Democracy’s form and system of unlimited Government-over-Man.
It serves to note that in any form of Democracy, be it a Direct or a Representative form of government, there can be no legal system which protects The Individual or The Minority (any or all minorities) against unlimited tyranny by The Majority.
Though we may be inclined to hope that men are capable of exercising a sense of self-restraint when unlimited power is placed in their hands, human nature has proven this to be untenable in the light of governmental realities.
Thus, we arrive at the conclusion that Democracy, as a form of government, is counter-intuitive to the preservation and protection of an Individual—and all groups of Individuals—unalienable rights. Whereas the underlying philosophy of America’s traditional system of government, a Republic, grants us only limited powers to make and keep secure our rights.
Yet, here we are a society, a generation, a collective aware of our county’s woes…expressing our discontent via social media about the idiocy of our leaders, but what are we really saying? More importantly, what are we doing about it?
We regurgitate quotes from men and women who provided us insight into the human condition with their works and deeds, but have we bothered to formulate ideas of our own?
We have criticized the missteps of public figures, but have we dared to step out of the shadows of the masses to contribute to the greater good?
Seems to me the majority likes to sit back and watch others pioneer a path, and then re-tweet and/or re-post an article, or clip about the mistakes made during said endeavor.
Freedom of speech?
What about the freedom of action?
Or do we prefer to talk the talk, but not actually walk the walk?
We are fortunate to live in a Republic where our Individual rights are protected, where the Individual may speak out against the tide of mass destruction. Given the recent string of events that threaten to undermine social justice and equality, it is imperative that we recognize the call to action.
We must know where we stand, and understand our position, for if we are to remedy a wrong then we must take that first step in the right direction. Otherwise, the march to freedom our Founding Fathers embarked on with their ideas and understanding of the intricacies of governing people will have been in vain.
We will be nothing in the end, but mindless sheep being led by wolves.
In my line of work, even from behind a desk, I’ve seen the reality that life is short.
I’ve seen a 21-year-old die in a car accident that knew people I knew.
I’ve seen children die at the hands of their parents.
I’ve seen a man, my age; take his own life for reasons only known to him and his God.
I’ve learned of Police Officers, who in the routine of their daily duties, suffered a gunshot to the face, unable to kiss their children, or spouse again…unable to say, “goodbye.”
I’ve taken a call about a woman found lifeless just before Christmas, and another who awakened a day later to find her husband had died in his sleep beside her.
I’m exposed to such circumstances on the heels of facing my own mortality, and I am fortunate to be able to live my life to the fullest.
I realize, in a way I did not prior to doing what I do for a living, that at any moment, our existence could be snatched from us.
These truths grant me perspective. I dare say we should all take a moment to recognize the reality that at any moment it could all end. A reminder that “living life to the fullest” is more than just a punch line.
So rejoice in the blessings that linger into your life, remember to say: “I love you,” “I need you,” “I thank you,” “I apologize,” and mean it!
Don’t harbor anger or resentment for too long, because it eats away at you … believe me, I know.
Allow yourself to heal and to move on from the past that caused you pain. Don’t dwell on your mistakes and don’t fret over what you “should have done in the first place,” because every decision you made has shaped the person you have become.
I am here now, vulnerable, exposed, hopeful, and imperfect…but I’m also aware that life is too short to wait for my life to happen the way others believe it should, because truth is, none of us has any control over the potential outcome of finality.
I may sit behind a desk, as a 9-1-1 Dispatcher and as a writer; with ambitions and determination to be as great a father as Dad was for us, as great a brother as my sister has been to me, as complete a man as any man should seek to be… and yes, even as legendary as immortal names of authors-past. Though I confess I haven’t accomplished anything worthy of praise, there are others who hold that distinction, because they have earned it (Soldiers, Officers, Firemen, fathers, mothers…lovers).
In any case, I have resolved to be happy, to accept what life and God have offered me. To make the most of these blessings (my family, my children, my true friends), because they didn’t have to be mine, and I didn’t have to be permitted to live long enough to know them.
So make the most of each day. Wake up early and watch the Love of your life sleep beside you—or listen to them snore, if you must—and kiss her or him as they dream of you.
They’re dreaming of you. Trust me.
Stay up late—even if you must be up early—to make the most of your time with true friends, loved ones, or even yourself.
Be open to change, to expanding your inner circle. Handle your responsibilities, because “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” ~Mae West. You’ll find that time passes too quickly, and life is too short to be anything but happy.
Fall in love.
If you’ve already done so, then do it all over again!
Yes, even with the same person you have already devoted your life to because there’s no rule that forbids it.
Dance in each other’s eyes, swim in each other’s smile, drown in each other’s tears. Isn’t that what love is supposed to be? You know, the highest peak and the deepest valley.
Think about that momentarily.
The. Deepest. Valley.
The realm in someone’s soul where few have dared venture into for fear of what they may, or may not find. But if you’re the only one who’s been there then you experience something no one else has, and that is truly special.
After all, the purest treasures of the world are always hidden. Diamonds, pearls and gold must be found in the depths of the earth, because nothing worth having is easily accessed, or obtained.
Experience each other in tiny droplets of time. Be it through a lingering glance, a gentle caress, a moment of silence, a stolen moment, or meaningful kiss. Treat each instance as if it is the first, and as if it shall be your last. The only thing you have to lose is the moment. Better to live long enough to lose the memory of it than to spend eternity regretting never having lived it.
“Never waste a moment, it may be the last with someone you love.” ~Unknown
Forgive my discursive proclivities, I’m a bit peculiar like that but I felt inclined to share a thought about the timing of life and death.
Before I continue, allow me to apologize for my extended absence as I have endured a rather tumultuous year that has included life-changing circumstances, writing a new novel, fielding rejections for other novels, releasing 3 more novels independently, continued revisions on another project…all while juggling a new job after being laid-off, a plethora of overtime hours to meet my financial obligations…made more difficult by a substantial pay cut, and maximizing visitation time with my children.
For the most part, I’m grateful for the love and support of my family, the presence of my children, and friendships that offer more than I could have ever hoped for as I re-emerge from the shadows of change and take another step towards realizing my dream.
Having said that, let us proceed.
I’m traveling back in time for a moment…you know, in Middle-Earth.
After successfully defending Helm’s Deep, while the company sleeps prior to our journey to Isengard, I’m taking a step back in time to where it all began for Mr Baggins.
Mr. Bilbo Baggins, to be precise… when Gandalf and a group of Dwarfs arrived at his door to sweep him away on the adventure that ultimately intertwined his fate with The Ring.
I should confess that I originally began reading The Hobbit several years ago, but for some reason, I just wasn’t feeling it, and each time I lingered into Middle-Earth, I set it aside to focus on my responsibilities and on my own writing. Yet now, I’m starting all over again and am thoroughly enjoying it!
Which brings me to my reason for this post.
Sometimes, when it comes to books, or movies, or food or beverage or friendships/relationships or even faith… there are instances when we’re just not feeling it, and in most cases, we never do.
But on a few rare occasions, we re-visit that book, that movie, that meal, that drink, that friendship or potential relationship or even that religion that we originally felt drawn to, but weren’t inclined to be open to the possibilities it offered us.
We cross paths again with these things and suddenly see them in a whole new light. We feel something that helps us understand why we were drawn to them in the first place.
In a universe filled with ambiguity, tis’ rare when an imagination, a book, a meal/beverage, palette, a man and a woman find that harmony, that happiness that they fall into naturally.
Nine years ago, I wasn’t much of a reader of fiction. Then I read one book…Harry Potter, and that changed everything for me because now it is rare to see a book escape my grasp, lest it escapes my wallet!!! 🙂
In conclusion…in life…the laws of physics, as we understand them, do not permit us to leap back and forth along the space/time continuum, to go back and do things differently. I dare say that’s for the best, because we might never learn anything if we could undo our past decisions.
So take life one-day-@-a-time, but make the most of each day, because: KAL HO NAA HO…Tomorrow is NOT promised!!!
Be open and receptive of what life brings you, and appreciate each moment, because it could have gone to someone else. Open a book, if you feel like it, and be okay with going back to it when tomorrow arrives. Be open to a new delicacy or beverage-so long as it’s prepared adequately for consumption-and entertain an interesting conversation with someone whom you feel a connection or chemistry with.
Make the most of your time, remember to say “I love you,” or “I am sorry,” and mean it!
Trust that what has been brought to you was done so because someone, somewhere, felt you were ready for it!!!
It’s never to late to fall into a novel, and go “back in time” to enjoy an adventure. It’s never too late to fall in Love and be happy. Experience life, because it’s the one thing that gives death any real meaning.
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.” ~Isaac Asimov
To find clarity, sometimes, you must close your eyes, cease from looking outward and instead search through the valleys of your soul.
That’s what I did.
I stepped off my virtual soapbox to reflect. It wasn’t something that I told myself I wanted to do or needed to do, I just did it because it felt right. You know, kind of like when you’ve had a long hard day you know there are projects that remain incomplete and need to be finished, but you can’t help lying down for a moment to close your eyes. You don’t tell yourself you want to sleep; you don’t acknowledge that you need to sleep but lying there on that comforter, your face against the coolness of your pillow simply feels right and you wander into the realm of dreams.
That’s what I did.
After hundreds of rejection letters, after countless revisions to my manuscripts, after reading and reading and reading and reading… I realized that I needed to get back to basics. I needed to do what felt right…I needed to lose myself in a dream.
That’s what I did.
Poetic is what I’ve always been, romantic is how I’ve often loved… creatively is how I conjured up the perfect storm of myth and imagination, but instead of waiting for the storm to pass, I danced in the rain.
I wrote. I wrote from the heart. I imagined the most beautiful tragedy and wandered through it with words…my emotions and my creativity as my guides. I was enchanted by the idea of the perfect passion, enraptured by the emotional high that is ignited by an infatuation, and then I wallowed in the misery where I often found comfort as a writer, as a poet.
They say that the heart has reasons for which reason cannot understand, and I did this for no reason, other than it simply felt right! These past few years felt like the best moments in my life to write the stories I have written.
Perhaps I was shedding the skin of my former self to undergo my own out-of-body experience and reconnect with the side of myself that initially inspired my writing twenty-seven years ago. Perhaps I needed to get back to what I know as a man in order to push beyond the boundaries of what I know as a writer, to elevate myself to another level.
I allowed my blood to boil then felt it rush into my heart, heated passion overwhelming my ability to love in order to break my own heart and bleed out my intensely romantic feelings. I thought not of style, or format…I didn’t concern myself with prose or punctuation. I simply indulged in the moment of sentimental fiction where my dreams came true and I found clarity.
As you may recall in my blog post titled: Inner Voice, I wrote: “The universe talks to you and you’ll hear what it’s saying if you’re willing to listen.” I mention this because here I am today, sharing with you my thoughts as I prepare to get back on the horse and pursue my dream. I stopped momentarily to read, and once again it feels as though the universe is talking to me!
Was it a coincidence that I went to the library and checked out the book, The Process of Writing Fiction: From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler, edited and with an introduction by Janet Burroway?
What are the odds that I find the following passage only minutes after I typed that “I found clarity”…?
Jane Burroway wrote the following words in the introduction to the book:
“…it is the imagination that must be a strong and supple instrument, ready to lead the reader through moment-by-moment sensual experience. And it is in the realm of the unconscious rather than that of technique or intellect that the writer seeks fictional truth.”
Here I am now, as the pages of winter turn towards spring. I am awake from that little nap, that beautiful dream and preparing to step through the threshold of another portal. One that will send me several centuries into the past where I will once again journey through another adventure, chasing destiny while fleeing from demons. Flying on a magic carpet from Mesopotamia to Ancient India traversing through wormholes into the outer regions of space.
I will write another story. I will live another life. I will invite you to fall in love with my imaginary friends and ask of you, only one thing. Dream a little dream with me.
“The best thing about dreams is that fleeting moment, when you are between asleep and awake, when you don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy, when for just that one moment you feel with your entire soul that the dream is reality, and it really happened.” ~Unknown Author
I know I’m not crazy!
People often ask me what inspired me to write my novels, and at the heart of the equation, the answer lies within the question. I was inspired!
One summer day, twelve years ago, the concept of a story first came to me as I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic and gazed up at the heavens. Enormous, white clouds that resembled floating cities gleamed in the sunlight amid the bright blue sky. I can still recall the precise moment when I asked myself the all-important what if question: “What if aliens had indeed come to Earth during ancient times? What if they’ve been returning periodically ever since to check on our evolutionary progress?”
But then, the what if of all what ifs bubbled to the surface of my creative stew, the one that pretty much sealed the deal and spurned me on the journey that changed me as a writer. The decisive first step that contributed to my own evolution and spiritual growth came when I asked, “What if there was an element of truth in all of the worlds religions/mythologies? What if there was a way to piece together their most important moments, chronologically in order reveal the truth behind—not only—our forgotten past, but our place in the universe?”
When the ingredients of these what ifs began to melt into each other I realized that perhaps I could recount history with a twist. Here was my one chance to fuse together two topics that stirred my curious nature in ways nothing else did: religion and science, creation and evolution, the beginning and the end.
I’ve always believed in God (at least as far back as I can recall), however I’ve always felt there was more to our existence than what I had learned in Sunday school. What I’m trying to say is that I always knew there was more to the story!
Believe it or not, but based on the teachings from certain churches my mother had us attend when we were kids, I was under the impression that everyone who did not believe in Christ as their Lord and Savior was doomed to an “eternity in hell!”
Yes, you read that correctly.
I vividly recall being at the grocery story with my mother when I was thirteen and I suddenly thought about my baby brother (only a few weeks old at the time), and I said to my mother that we needed to get him baptized as soon as possible, that he needed to be “saved” to ensure that regardless of what happened to him, he’d be guaranteed a spot in heaven. I was genuinely afraid that he remained “unprotected” by the grace of God, but that was the “truth” that had been drilled into my mind. As I matured, I began to wonder about the numerous generations of humans that lived before the time of Christ and the many more that have lived since the first millennium, and I wondered whether they too were doomed to eternal damnation as believers of other faiths.
Then something happened. I eventually began to ask questions. My inner nature emerged and my curiosity got the best of me. I’d sit on my front lawn as a teenager and stare at the heavens. In the middle of August, the nights smelled of summer and the sounds of crickets echoed in the air. I’d connect the dots of the constellations and wondered, what else is out there? Are there other planets capable of sustaining life, as we know it? Could there in fact be life on those other planets and their moons? How close, or distant are they?
Concurrently, other questions rose to the surface of my consciousness. Questions that revolved around telepathy, telekinesis, ghosts, angels, demons, science fiction vs science fact, the spirit/soul hidden within us… the concept of heaven, hell, wizards/witches and how all of these things have somehow weaved together our vast history and our collective existence.
When I decided to piece together this jigsaw puzzle that is the human condition, I realized I had to do some research (a lot of it) and that’s where the real fun began.
My thirst for spiritual understanding, coupled with history as one of my favorite subjects I easily immersed myself in the oceans of our past. I swam through the pages of history, through volumes of ancient cultures and drowned myself in the depths of world mythologies/religions in a way I had no idea was humanly possible.
The deeper I delved, the further back in time I traveled, the more I learned, and suddenly, a story that was supposed to begin with the mythological themes of ancient Greece and Rome began to reach beyond the times of Egypt into the eras of Ancient India and Mesopotamia.
I certainly could have fed my curiosity sooner and with greater satisfaction had I taken up an interest in reading when I was younger, but I was a late bloomer when it came to appreciating the value of books.
Instead I had enjoyed the numerous documentaries on the Discovery and History channels. Though I continue to thoroughly appreciate the informative programs that fuel the speculation of what gnaws at our need-to-know, while carefully pulling back the veil of our secrets just enough to keep us guessing, at least now I am able to differentiate between the speculative fiction and the informative fact.
Still, my creative juices continue to be stirred, inspired, and seasoned with tiny bits of information I didn’t know, while I’m reminded of things that I already learned but had merely forgotten. And that is one of the things that has fueled my drive, the hope that readers will read my stories and say to themselves, “Wow, I did not know that!” or “I remember hearing something about that, but in the context of this story, it is awesome!”
I believe that will happen because as I researched the earliest accounts of human history that were inscribed on stone tablets that could be deemed “as-old-as-dirt,” I realized that most of what I learned in Sunday school was a burrowed past.
The story of Noah and the Great Flood essentially predates the Bible itself. The story of Moses placed in a basket along a great river of the ancient world (the Nile) to be discovered near a palace and raised by the royal family was a legend that had been around for generations as the story of Sargon the Great.
(An infant placed in a reed basket on a great river of the ancient world—the Euphrates—found by a gardener of the royal palace and raised within the palace walls). Coincidentally, they were both of Semitic origin and both altered the history of their peoples.
During my journey into the past—by way of history books and encyclopedias—I discovered that religions had existed long before the dawn of Christianity, and that much of the symbolism by way of images, traditions and events had also been borrowed. Additionally, it became clear that despite Christianity’s emergence as a prominent faith, the already established religions had a much greater understanding of our universe than we could have ever imagined.
When I approached priest after priest about the origins of God, I never received an answer that satisfied my curiosity. The idea that God “has always been,” did not suffice. Even at the tender age of ten. So imagine my enthusiasm when I began to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of human thought by way of gathered knowledge and teachings that dated back several centuries, millennia, even!
Some contradicted or mirrored others, most completely went against the grain of what I had been taught in Church, but there was a recurring theme that resonated among them all, besides the poetic descriptions of The Beginning. You name it, from the mythologies of Sumer, Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, Meso-America, the Celts, Native America, Polynesia, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and later Christianity/Islam by extension there in-fact was a beginning that inspired great storytelling!
A union of powerful and important entities: gods and goddesses, male and female, light and dark, water and wind, space and time…all of these wonderful legends (with the exception being the obvious) there was the understanding that everything was cyclical. The universe was born and reborn based on a timeline much greater than the concept of time we currently view the world. Instead of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. these other traditions viewed the universe in terms of eons!
What I have found to be even more fascinating, thanks in part to my growing interest in physics, is how science has begun to help us unravel some of these hidden secrets, much in the same way that: Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, Georges Lemaitre and Einstein have done in centuries past.
Side note: It is my understanding that the Catholic Church has yet to offer an official apology to Giordano Bruno after burning him at the stake for his “crimes against the Church,” of which included: the support of the Copernican theory that the Earth nor the Sun were at the center of the universe as had once been thought, adding to it that the stars we see at night are similar to our own sun, the plurality of worlds and the idea of an infinite universe, along with his approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.
And yes, while his free-thinking did lead him to question the validity of Jesus as God, it is a shame that now, in an era where such a view is no longer considered “heresy” in the way it once was, it’s a shame that he remains condemned by a Church that claims forgiveness of all souls shall be decided upon by God.
Yet Galileo, who also supported Copernicus’ view of celestial objects and was also tried by the Inquisition, did receive—after 350 years—an official apology from the Vatican. Yet he was merely forced to recant and remained on house arrest for the rest of his days, not burned at the stake.
Regardless of the inner conflict that continues within me, I remain passionate about learning as much as I can, about achieving a greater understanding of the universe (or multiverse) in which we live, and about my place in the sea of space and time. This passion fills my soul with an enthusiasm to share what I have learned and the excitement spills over onto my keyboard and subsequently onto the pages of my stories!
I write because I am inspired: inspired to be more than I am, more than some would say I am meant to be. I am inspired because the memories of our ancestors have inspired us all to contemplate our place and our purpose. I write because my soul wants to do nothing else (save for being a good father).
Despite sometimes finding myself in the swamp of writers block, I tend to stumble upon a word, a sentence, or an important piece of information that reignites the flame of passion that burns in the hearth of my heart.
Am I taking a chance here, trying to merge science fiction with science fact, aliens with gods, demons with angels, wizards with wormholes, the physical with the metaphysical? You bet your sweet-@$$ I am, but it’s a chance I feel with every fiber of my being that I MUST take, because even when I felt the overwhelming burden of bottle-neck of information that once led me to consider giving up because perhaps I was taking on a project that was “too ambitious,” I realized I could not give up!
A voice screamed at me from the inner universe of my mind, perhaps it was the universe talking to me, telling me that I am destined to write these novels and complete each series that I have launched. A feeling tugged at my soul and guided me to my laptop, and the libraries, and gave me the energy to swim through the sea of scientific wonder and into the depths of human history.
Despite sometimes only getting four hours of sleep, and twelve hour shifts while trying to balance life and time with my children…I am unable to cease from formulating story ideas.
I LOVE IT!
I feel fortunate to have been chosen by God (or the universe) to be the one inspired to write my stories. I am filled with ideas and struggling to keep the candle of hope lit.
But something within fuels my ambition to be a part of something more, to leave my mark on this world and hopefully leave the world a better place than I was born into.
How many people can actually say that and sincerely mean it?
That doesn’t make me crazy, does it?
I’m not crazy. Truly, I’m not.
Well, maybe just a little. 😉
“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clarity and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy…or they become legend.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard and taken heed to words of wisdom. I’ve even echoed those words to others when the situation called for them. Go for a drive without directions and you may get lost. Take that last second shot at the buzzer and you may actually miss. Rush into love, as only fools do, and chances are you will be hurt. Write a novel then seek representation and you should expect a healthy dose of rejections.
Still…we decide to take our chances anyway, don’t we?
Why do you think that is?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but what I do know is that some of us just can’t help ourselves. Men, by nature, tend to believe we are capable of overcoming just about any challenge set forth at our feet. Whether it’s replacing a faucet only to have it still leaking water a year later! (Yes, I actually did this and thankfully my brother-in-law helped me repair it).
Yet we take the family on that road trip with our own directions because we believe that we don’t “need” to stop and ask for directions along the way. Yep, even if we’re thirty miles off-course in the wrong direction, we will find our way back on track.
Taking the last shot? Ah, that’s a competitor’s ideal situation. We want that shot. We need that shot because it validates our self-perception as winners. We know there’s a chance we will miss but we believe in the possibility that we will make it!
As a romantic, and as a writer, I know that for me the idea of love and my love of writing are intertwined like the fate of soul mates. I have taken my chances in love despite the potentially painful outcomes of my past because I often asked: what is a heart if the emotions within aren’t permitted to overflow?
I still believe that one must always allow for their emotions to keep flowing because they are the rivers of your soul. Whether happy or sad, they glide thru you and form the valleys of your heart…. elaborately carving the beauty that lies within you. Akin to the way rivers run along the lands of the Earth…. look at the Grand Canyon now, after millennia of rivers flowing through it! 🙂 It’s what brings you the sediment of wisdom and marks the depth of your love.
Allow this to happen and then, when God has completed his work with you, He’ll bring you someone worthy of your inner beauty. Someone who will appreciate everything that you have become as a result of what you’ve been through instead of being someone who faults you for your past, or lacks the depth with her/himself to value who you truly are… a genuine person, with emotions.
Love, as with writing, becomes a story… the story that we need to tell, and like true love it speaks to the heart! Despite the challenges along the way, I am never discouraged for too long.
What I find even more compelling is that there is no way my soul has ever been able to let go of either. Focused as I am, distracted as I sometimes allow myself to be, and with a mixture of numerous emotions in-between I have this undying need to share my story with the world.
There’s no two ways around it.
I’m simply incapable of leaving my manuscript on a shelf to never be published, or on my Cloud to remain unopened for a lifetime. Just as I breathe to hold the love of my life, to be a dad and a father to my children, I inhale and exhale to be a writer, a published author and a best-selling novelist. This feels inevitable because it’s my passion. It’s who I am and what the flowing rivers of my soul have left in their wake.
Come take a swim in the sea of my story and discover new islands of my imagination!
“Follow the river and you will find the sea.”