Center of the Universe

You are not the center of the universe” is a pivotal line in my unpublished novel, written eighteen years ago. Actually, Center of the Universe was the novel’s real working title, which I do not believe I have never told anyone until now but I’m old and every day, my memory is kinder. For most of my novel’s years, I called it Spirit Song or a still favorite phrase, In-Between Dances.

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Anti-Spoiler: At no time in this post or any other post will you be subjected to excerpts from any novel or story I may write. This blog may  look at the 10,000 things of the Tao but my novel or story excerpts are excluded.  My writing has its place, which is not my blog.

“Center of the universe” was an unusual concept in the early 1990s  for me and for the small, coal mining community where I lived. Amazingly, I played a pivotal role in that community for a short period of time, if not as the center of the community, it was close enough for me forever. It doesn’t take much in a small community.

Fresh from a university setting, I was teaching the  basic composition course for the community college outreach program. The course was required for anyone pursuing an associate degree but I did not let that hold me back. I launched my (and the community’s) writing life with Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. Zen Buddhism completely captured my heart; I was so in love.

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Everywhere I looked, there was analogy after analogy. In teaching Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher,” a classic story of sentience, I nearly brought to life the house’s  weeping walls and the Tao of 10,000 things. I was ingenuousness personified. At best, I only knew half of what I thought I knew but I tossed all my sentience out there.

It stuck.

For the next few years, former students liked to introduce me as: “This is (My Name), and she thinks this chair has feelings.” Yes, a chair was offered to a somewhat startled, formerly secure person. It kept people on their feet, and for a moment, made me the center of the universe. Only now do I appreciate how truly amazing those years were.

By the time I began writing my novel in 1994, I had pulled away from the community and in all fairness, it had pulled away from me, too. We had reason to separate—it seems fair to say we had forgotten our sentient selves—it is so long ago who knows whether  there was any reason left in any of us. We just were.

Regardless, my novel was about finding community again; I wanted to discover where we had gone so wrong, all of us. Somewhere after 60,000 words, my protagonist was informed: “You are not the center of the Universe.” Truly, I remember the moment.

As a writer, I recognized the importance of the sentence but as a human being, I sensed enlightenment, albeit briefly. It would take another seventeen years to fully appreciate the center of the universe but there was light, and toward that, I moved.

In 2011, I read Stephen Hawking’s books—Grand Design and A Briefer History of Time—and learned of the multiverse, a considerable blow to my centered universe–momentarily–for I found the joy of quantum entanglement and Oneness. The reality of joy is once you experience it, you move in that direction always. Dark just does not have the same hold in Oneness.

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However, Oneness translates hard for a writer, sometimes.

While I had known for a while—sixteen years, eleven months, and twenty days—that I might glean only dribs and drabs from my first attempt at a novel, I always believed I had the center of the universe. Not so. Seems it really was a bit of fiction.  And there was something even worse: my center of the universe was a Little Darling, in writing, a death knell.

True to form, I kept silent about my Little Darling. Perhaps I hoped I would forget there was a multiverse–I promise you there is real merit in this possibility–yet, sentient human or no, once the heart knows, it knows.

Yesterday, my universe imploded, victim of  my first assignment in a writing workshop: write the idea of my novel in one sentence of 25 words or less. Surprisingly, I managed to find a sentence, not a cogent one, but the center of the universe was gone.

Note: For one of the best explanations about Little Darlings and how to get help for this alarmingly prevalent addiction, please read Piper Bayard and Kristen Lamb, proud sponsors of Little Darlings Anonymous.

ROW80 Wednesday Word Marking:

My word total for January was 8250 with my goal of writing at least 250 words per day; in February, I began writing in 30-minute stretches to focus my writing and the word total for the month is 9814;  in March, my current word total is 2118.  My total Round of Words so far is 21,182, which is a raw total, meaning a lot of free writing/brainstorming with a goal of writing consistently, which I have accomplished. I generate an additional 1200 to 2000 words per week as blogs, fiction, and nonfiction.

For the remaining days of this ROW80, I am focusing on scheduling my blogs so I am not on “deadline” ever or always on deadline.  Oneness is confusing in this regard.

Bob Mayer’s Idea and Conflict Workshop  is just incredible, and I mean that sincerely. I can honestly say I have not been this excited about writing in years. There is true joy in my work.

Dimensions of Creativity

“Creativity may be our Last Line of Defense” is the title of Gary Gauthier’s intriguing and well-written post that appeared on Sonia Medeiros’ blog this past Friday. For me, Gauthier’s consideration of creativity as our last defense in an increasingly technological world of  decreasing human tasks was not only sobering but a bit of a surprise. I realized I had only considered creativity from the human perspective. What about other dimensions?

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Like Gauthier, I was quite taken with the performance of Watson, the IBM computer, on Jeopardy!  last Valentine’s Day. While some of Watson’s responses proved that human nuance is still a bit beyond a computer’s creativity, Watson won the knowledge rounds speedily and decisively.

I do not fear human or literary Watsons, I believe in them.

Gauthier also cited technology capable of creating journalism articles once “the facts” are provided. There are software programs for creating screenplays, novels, and probably just about any kind of writing for there is nothing new under the sun, which we’ve known at least since Ecclesiastes, probably before.

Time is relative and maybe so is creativity.

Until the 21stcentury, creativity has been a human component; truthfully, we don’t completely comprehend any dimension–yet. We’re not even completely convinced how our own human parts work but we know the sum of us is quite amazing. So, when it comes to creativity in technology, are we trying to simulate/emulate being human or are we vying for being perfect, which some would argue we already are.

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What constitutes creativity? Is it the life force that animates a neutrino or a gnat as easily as a human? There is an argument that the life force in any dimension fights for every possible moment of existence, which seems pretty perfect already, creative even.

As for what creativity may mean for the 21st century, I came across this quote from Gregg Braden, a computer geologist who writes about the relationship between science and spirituality:

“For those who can embrace the learning curve of our past without judgment, the future becomes the palate for new industry, new jobs, new forms of expression, and new communities based upon sustainable ways of thinking, living, and being in our world” (Gregg Braden, Letter to the Community).

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For me, the source of all being is in matter and anti-matter; is in Einstein’s quantum entanglement of “spooky action at a distance”; is in Edgar Allan Poe’s sentient story, “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Maybe creativity is less a line of defense and more a bridge between humanity and all that is not.

Rhythm of ROW80 Sunday Scheduling:

The 30-minute writing stretches have improved the quality and number of  “words I keep.” The exercise provides a way to think through material for blog posts as well as novel scenes. In short, it’s creating much needed distance from the initial excitement of writing.

This week, I start writing the concept of my already drafted novel based upon Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering and Kristen Lamb’s concept critique.

Doing the Tao with Dyer away from duality, perhaps

Nepo morning meditation continues