Staying in the Game

There is no one oasis where we all gather, no single body of experience from which we drink. Never was, not really, but when life relied more on print than bandwidth, our oasis seemed not a mirage but a canon of stuff.

Since Gutenberg, we shared life in print; the twentieth century added broadcasting, both audio and visual. The Internet is all that and so much more–24/7 access to change. We’re offered what we want before we even think of it.

Thirty years ago, I would have said, “That’s not for me. I refuse to participate.” I can see me waving a Waterman fountain pen for emphasis. I believed in the canon of the writing process, another would-be oasis.

I was wrong, not only about me but so much more.

I bought into the Internet from the get-go, especially all the devices. As a writer, the word processor was my best friend and early on I was fascinated by systems development and still am.

Today, I’m a gamer, beyond the scrabble-like Words With Friends, which I play daily but not yet Xbox. The gaming world is another gateway into the diversity of imagination; I play for story, solving a mystery or revisiting Greek/Norse myths. Also, a bit of archaeology.

These are genre games, essentially, in which I play the protagonist in a story written by someone else. I become a player. Often, it’s not hard to figure out “whodunit” or how the story ends but the path is not always obvious and unless I focus, I lose my way.

Sometimes, I think could write a better game but that’s not the point. It’s not my story, I’m just a participant. I take myself out of me and become a detective, working through clues. That’s why I’m there.

I discovered these games as a way to make something more of my time when I am too ill to write but find myself straying from the medium of film or audiobook, needing to engage with life as character, until I can enter my own writing again.

Gaming is looking through another lens in the process.

I am completely immersed in the way of another writer (and developer). The game will not proceed unless I work within their rules and complete the tasks to clear the story path. More hands-on than reading or writing but be it film, audiobook, or game, the adventure returns me to my own writing eventually.

William Stafford wrote: “A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.

It’s finding ways to stay in the game. Would I have been a gamer if I was not a writer? Writing has been with me for most of my life, not always for publication but I am an author, too. Writing has always clarified my thinking and for the last 30 years, a constant companion.

Now, because the physical act of writing is as demanding, if not more so, than the mental act, I have to find other ways. Gaming opens that door for me. To be in someone else’s story, having to solve puzzles and find tools to reveal clues, is to look through another writing lens in a most intimate way.

Gaming plays a real part in my writing process, and that always makes me smile. It is the structure that stays with me. The really fine games can be played at different levels so for me, one game is good for months. It reminds me of my own revision process. 😉

While I play, my own stories “percolate,” as I rearrange scenes in my novel or concepts for blog posts. Mostly, there is energy in resting one part of the process while still working. It keeps me in the game.

St. Mark's Refuge; Gulf of Mexico; KMHuberImage


“Do you Believe in Magic?”

These days, I find myself wrapped round story, magic, being—in any and every order—an entangled trio so reminiscent of a quantum entanglement known as “spooky action at a distance.”

It seems entanglement is the heart of this blog.

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WANA Commons

The story I pursue is layered in the oneness of the 10,000 things of “the Way” (the Tao) that connects the consciousness of all always and simultaneously. That is the story of the human plane, I believe.

It is a story I want to know.

I have enrolled in a sixteen month course that offers a synthesis of the ancient traditions of the last 25 centuries including Buddhism, Taoism, and Christianity in its “original state,” meaning not according to St. Augustine of Hippo, a prospect much more exciting than it may seem. I may write a post on that but we are not there yet.

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WANA Commons

Perhaps a more practical way to consider the course is this: the predominant Western belief of “you are your rational mind” is lacking in magic and story, at the very least, and at its very worst, it is unsustainable dogma.

That is how I see the course, and while it is early in my study, I am impressed with its evidence-based emphasis, specifically that hypothesis is not fact.

The irony of my beginning this study as my lupus moves into its own story is not lost on me; I suspect irony is frequent when one leads with the heart and not with the head. Yet, to live with an open heart and to discover what that truly means–for there is not agreement upon it or about it—is to dive deep into the head-heart connection.

Mark Nepo writes that “with your head beneath your heart, you must stop doing….Time and time again, the head must be brought beneath the heart or the ego swells” (The Book of Awakening).

Consider the entanglement of placing the head under the heart, thereby creating the “voice” of the gut. Nepo calls it, “a truth of being for a truth of being.” The resonance of the gut is like a messenger rushing through every system of our being proclaiming a resilient, “I get it!”

And resilience is rather magical but it is not magical thinking. To me, resilience lies in remembering the distinction between believing and knowing. While believing is akin to knowing, what we believe often lies in faith but not always in fact. For fact, experience provides us evidence of all we come to know.

“By opening fully to our own experience, we can feel and see the resilience of life around us” (Nepo).

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WANA Commons

Being completely within the experience of our life–being fully present—we experience what every other life form knows: living fully means denying nothing. Being present in every moment is to experience all the moment offers, a pure opportunity to be.

Being is the magical story that the natural world celebrates completely and constantly every moment. It is a story that plays out moment by moment, a real page turner.

For those of you who want to follow my ROW80 progress, you may view it here.

The Power of Story

Lupus is a creation of mine, its own story really, not one of which I am proud, as its writer, but I have been its source of life for the last 35 to 40 years, maybe even longer.

It is not possible to note the day my lupus gene switched to on nor is it possible to know why I have the gene or what activated it, if anything. It simply is. That part of the story has never mattered to me, even before I knew about the Tao or Zen.

It took me most of my life to understand I am not my lupus and that autoimmune disease is its own story, one steeped in imitation and deceit, usually disguised as flexibility and malleability. Separating what is the lupus story from all I am has been delicate and sometimes, seemingly impossible.

Through the Tao and Zen, I have come to believe my body is my soul having a physical experience, which gives me, a writer, the luxury of viewing lupus as story, a structure I do understand. In all the ways I have viewed lupus, it never occurred to me to view it as a story until very recently.

Lupus really does have plot points, conflict, a protagonist and an antagonist, all tools of my trade on my turf. I just may have the advantage here for the very first time.

In some ways, I have had a long life with lupus, if knowing lupus by other names counts. Lupus’ ability to mimic so many other illnesses along with my gullibility in believing one misdiagnosis after another are extraneous chapters but there is this: my heart never believed any of those labels.

In the lupus story, my heart is the protagonist and my brain or ego is the antagonist, the one that drives the conflict in every story, and all stories have an antagonist and a protagonist locked in a conflict box.
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As the lupus story opens, my immune system produces antinuclear antibodies to fight infection and viruses, just as it should, until we reach the first plot point: a normal immune system turns on itself and begins to attack the very body it defended for years, for no apparent reason.

This relentless war for the body continues for years under various guises–multiple sclerosis, migraines, mixed connective tissue disorder–until Sjogren’s wipes out the salivary glands to pave the way for lupus.

As we reach the midpoint of the lupus story, the brain discovers that it, too, is under attack and turns to the last bastion of hope, the open heart, the remaining connection to the spirit that animates the soul’s body.

I do know that in any story there is one more major plot point before the conclusion, and the lupus story is no different. I don’t know the last plot point nor do I know the conclusion but I have this: the structure of story has given me some of my first moments truly away from the physical battle, and I know I am so much more than the lupus story.

ROW80 Sunday Scheduling 

I finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and may write a review for an upcoming blog post; however a very fine writer, Stephanie Carmichael, wrote an excellent review that you may read here.  I cannot imagine what I could add to this review. The Night Circus is one of the best novels I have ever read and am considering purchasing it (I borrowed it from the library) as it is a book to read and re-read.

I continue to write at least 500 words a day, mostly nonfiction, and I reached my goal of scheduling blog posts so I am not writing to deadline on Sundays and Wednesdays. This next week will be the dismantling of my novel’s first draft, which I plan to have finished by April 22, 2012 as well as a rough outline of its scenes so I may begin “plotting” the novel’s major points. Unlike the lupus story, I actually do know how this story ends.

For the rest of this round, my goal is a weekly total of 2500 words, as I do not know how long it will take to plot the novel so I do not know when I will start the actual writing of the second draft. You may read more about my second Round of Words in 80 Days here.