In the wake of what has happened today in Las Vegas, I have chosen to postpone my usual Monday progress post to share a message with hope.
We are not taught how to have hope in a brighter tomorrow. Truly, this is something we have to learn. Television shows like Star Trek and Stargate (because sci-fi is all about the “alien among us” and that “humanity survives”) are great teachers of this lesson. I wrote Broken Smiles earlier this year as an exercise of “write what scares you” and I barely touched on my fears. Society crumbling and this becoming a dystopian world after an apocalypse totals scares me to paralysis. I can’t even let my mind go down that far. I fear about what I would touch upon. To try to imagine what the shooter in Las Vegas was thinking, to look for his motivations, I can only say that he had some darkness and no longer believed in hope.
I feel we must learn a true lesson from this. We must not only send our love, support, and prayers to the families that have lost loved ones today, but we must figure out what must be done within ourselves and the lives of those around us so that something like this never happens again. That is a monumental (and quite impossible) task. But, we must begin and believe in the quest that a Utopian world can be achieved; otherwise, why bother living at all?
I feel I must step back and take a moment to go into a deeper explanation. I have often told people that from the years of 1996-2010, I was not doing much writing. Yes, this is the period of my life where I lost a lot and I grieved the loss of my writing very hard. Writing had been what I had always done. It is also true that this is the time when the art came into my life, but that wasn’t until about 2002.
It seems that everyone alive during 2001 remembers where they were on September 11th and they heard the news about the plane attacks. I remember watching on live television shots of people jumping from the towers and the collapse of the buildings. I was an extreme pessimist at the time and had been most my life. I’d rarely seen anything go right, let alone the way I wanted it. I figured this was the end. For weeks, I listened to news reports, hoping more survivors would be found and not surprised when when hopeful emergency personnel just recovered more bodies. I knew I had to pull myself out of that misery I was feeling. I went to my office and turned on my computer to write. I sat there until I cried.
I cried in silence for a good half an hour or so. I cried for all the lives that had been lost. I cried for the world that I had birthed my children into. I cried for no longer believing humanity was any good. I cried because that was the day I lost all my stories. What in the bloody blazes was the point of telling them to a world that was a waste?
I died within those tears.
I’m glad I did.
It took me a decade to pull myself out of that, a ten year span where I, like a phoenix, felt myself getting reborn and growing up.
Because the world didn’t end on September 11th, I had become optimistic. Over time, I learned to seek joy. I became a self-development junkie. I realized we are not put here on this planet for tests and trials! We are here to enjoy our lives and to share that joy with others. When someone breaks that natural law, we have a tragedy and everyone feels it. Check your history; it has been like this from the very beginning of time. Only now, does the radius of pain spread so much further because of the smallness of our planet.
But when does hearing about tragedy ever make you feel better about yourself? Never. When do you feel good? When you are sharing love and joy with your family.
That was a lesson I learned during that decade. I turned off the news stories. I now read headlines to keep myself informed about what is going on in the world, but I actively ask myself before clicking a link to read an article if I really want to bring that “news” into my life. I filter. I decide what stories I want in my head. And, when I do read a “news” story, I judge how accurate I believe it to be. History is always told by the victors, and there are always two sides to every tale. See my Sacred Knight series if you want to see the development of that theme in my life! BINGO!
You need to do the same thing (cutting off the non-joyful news) if you haven’t already.
From the biggest tragedy of my time on this planet until now, I have spent writing and painting for myself first. I “follow my passion” for myself and my own enjoyment. I write for my own entertainment, getting to play around in my own head, and tell stories that make me feel more encouraged about life. I paint so I can make the world a more beautiful place. When I am done with my play, then I share with the world. I take my adventures and visions and give them to the world. I always hope that like-minded individuals find them, such as with this message too.
It is my biggest belief that we need to share good stories. I’ve seen studies done where kids who did not have enough mythology classes in school end up being the ones who read about the celebrities. They follow the Hollywood and musical stars because they need a mythological structure in their life and these people fill that need.
Guess what? Celebrity status means exactly nothing to me. Whatever! They are people too. They put their pants on one leg at a time and they create their own drama and problems just like everyone else.
But then again, I write about a god. Several of them, I guess, actually if you count Odin, Thor, Anubis, Hel, etc.
Now I digress.
My point is that we need to share good stories with those that we love. We need to seek them out, bring them into our lives, make them part of our mythology. Stories become our friends after we share that world in an author-reader relationship. We have taken an adventure, and, if it’s good, we long to share it. Do that! This is my message of hope to you. I share stories with my children that I believe had value and my kids do the same with me. They don’t even have to be stories told in a book, but I believe that those are the best because they engage the imagination better than something that is set all out on a platter for you like a television show. Yes, people need to read in order to engage their imaginations.
Read what you enjoy. Start there.
That is what should be the instruction in school, not forcing someone to read something then be forced to dissect it. That can come later (with the acknowledgement that there really are no right or wrong answers because everyone comes to the story with different life experiences and can interpret the story in another way from someone else).
We need to be taught how to enjoy first. So share the stories you enjoy with the people you love. Share, share, share. Share your joy, share your enthusiasm, share you life experiences. Start now, for it is never too late.
You might just save someone’s life. Or, you might give someone else a reason to live.