The Arc of the Story


“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” ~ Erica Jong

“The dreamer is a distinguished operatic artist, and, like all who have elected to follow, not the safely marked general highways of the day, but the adventure of the special, dimly audible call that comes to those whose ears are open within as well as without”  ~ Joseph Campbell

“Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. In perfect stillness, frankly, I’ve only found sorrow.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver

“To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story”. Wow, great sentence there. I have long found that living in the story of my life is a good place to be. Even when I am stuck, like I have been since late March of 2012. That’s a long time to be stuck, right? I mean how much time do I actually have, how many years? It matters not. One thing about this stuckness is that even though my story seems to have ground to a halt it really just slipped out of my conscious awareness. Looking back I can see the story line, the arc, whatever. So what if it doesn’t look pretty or wise? That’s not the friggin point. This way of looking at life came to me with the near death experience (NDE) back in 1984. I was working on a novel when the accident happened. The trauma changed the story in the manuscript considerably. I went on to complete the novel. It was a few years later that I came across the work of Joseph Campbell, and the mythopoeic hero’s journey as seen through the original Star Wars films. It gave me pause to look back at what had happened to me. When I began to do so it was a huge WTF moment. An NDE has a powerful tone not unlike a shamanic initiation/transformation. When it happened to me it could well have been a bright and shining hero’s journey just begun (Eben Alexander and Anita Moorjani are two great examples of that). But mine turned out to be slanted toward the dark side. Since the revelation sparked by Campbell’s work I have had to struggle to glean the arc of my story in some more proactive and positive way. Turns out that struggle may not have been the best way. That’s why I am sometimes so snarky toward the positive thinking movement. This is getting hard for me to explain here, and I haven’t much time to do so anyway. Life is full of choices. To say that I made a choice at the time if the accident is pretty much of an academic approach. Something that large – I died and came back to life – is about way more than the choice I may or may not have made at the time. Listen, what got me on this tack this morning was a conversation over dinner last evening. I was invited to join three friends for dinner at the Taos Inn. There were two of us men and two women. For a while the women fell into their own conversation, and I found myself in a rich conversation with a fellow writer. That’s where all of this is coming from this morning. The conversation and the context were sumptuous for me. Fine dinner at a classy restaurant with three people who are way more mainstream cultured than I am. They were all dressed nicely and I had on a black WalMart sweatshirt. But what was so profound for me was that I could participate as a writer, there in a public place in front of God and everybody, in a valid conversation. I’m not used to that. It felt good, and it allowed me to regain compassion for the immature part of me that withholds earned confidence to the point where I seem to have been stuck for five years now. My friend and I talked about the arc of a story, and I explained how I usually don’t see the arc until later in the story, maybe  . . . oh, never mind. Geez and boy howdy of course I can do stuff like that. I have been writing every day for years now. This may all sound like I have a very low opinion of myself. Au contraire, mon ami. I just forget at times, sometimes for a long time. But, alas, I am at this time out of time so it’s time to hit the shower so I can make it to work on time. I am pretty much sure I have the day off, but there is a little niggle of doubt that is enough to get me to go down into Taos anyway, just in case my confidence is wrong. If it turns out I do indeed have the day off I can treat myself to breakfast at the Taos Diner. I don’t get out enough, don’tcha know.

Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.


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