Perception

Bending Time

“Our minds influence the key activity of the brain, which then influences everything; perception, cognition, thoughts and feelings, personal relationships; they’re all a projection of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra

I’m happy to say that I’m getting back into the creative flow writing my second novel. The other day as I was thinking about my storyline, a major character/plot point occurred to me and it has to do with perception.

Morgan’s daughter, Georgiana, is not happy about her mother’s involvement in the suffrage movement. She’s convinced her mother’s frequent absences prove her mother doesn’t love her. Even when Morgan takes her along on the trips, Georgiana holds on tenaciously to her point of view. Her feelings about her mother are not true, but she derives pleasure by enumerating her mother’s shortcomings. This gives me an opportunity to give Morgan some depth. She makes parenting mistakes trying to change Georgiana’s mind. It’s a big step for me as a writer. I tend to want to make my main characters perfect.

We make incorrect assumptions in real life too. We get a bit of information and assume we have the whole story. Over time our assumptions become solidified if they are never challenged. In my opinion, it’s good for us to have our beliefs and assumptions turned upside down every once in a while, either by others or by our own efforts to expand our perspective.

Here’s a real life example. A week ago Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation to the Attorney General William Barr. Emotions are still running high about the fact that AG Barr released a four page statement to Congress based on an over 300 page report. Some people are getting upset while others are gloating about the results. At first I had a particular reaction too, but then I remembered, we don’t have all the facts yet. And it’s best to suspend my assumptions until all the details of the report are revealed. This is not the only time I’ve had to stop myself from an over the top reaction to an emotional situation.

And I had an even more personal real life example this week. A charge appeared on my bank that I did not make. It was for a relatively large amount of money. I was tempted to get bent out of shape about it, but after calling the bank, I felt better. They were helpful in resolving the issue. It wasn’t worth getting upset about. It was just one of life’s little glitches.

One of the best things I’ve learned to do in a crisis is to take a breath, and try to relax. I can’t find solutions to my problems or consider that my assumptions are wrong when I’m upset. I know that’s hard when our cherished beliefs are challenged and our world is turned upside down. But none of us can avoid facing life altering challenges. Since that’s the case, we might as well do the best we can to embrace what comes.

There is a new movie coming out on April 5th that illustrates what I’m trying to say. The title is The Best of Enemies starring Sam Rockwell and Taraji P. Henson. It’s based on a true story of school integration in Durham, North Carolina in 1971. The segregated black elementary school burns down. Ann Atwater, trying to get the white school to admit the children of her community, faces off against C.P. Ellis, the Exalted Cyclops of the KKK in his district. I tried to find the original trailer, where the real C.P. Ellis says something like “We believe things and then one day we find out they aren’t true.” I wish I could give an exact quote, because his statement made me sit up and say, “Well, that true life incident shows there is hope for us all and that’s the kind of movie I want to see.”

I’ve seen other real life stories that give me hope. On the most recent CBS Sunday Morning, there was a segment about a man who was so damaged by his military tours in the Middle East, that he was planning to blow up the local Muslim center. But something stopped him. He decided to go to the center and see if he could find good reason to support his hatred. But instead he found understanding, acceptance, and love. He’s now a Muslim convert.

It’s real life people like these that remind me to not let my emotions get the better of me, to take a step back and examine the truth of what I thought I knew. This is something I think we all need to do right now with people all over the world so sharply divided. But I know how difficult it is to take out our beliefs and examine them. I know because I’ve had to do it more than once. During those times I felt fragile and barely able to cope with even the most mundane tasks. And I got angry easily. However, I didn’t let all those messy feelings stop my process.

Okay, I’m kind of going on into pseudo-therapist mode here. Forgive me. Theatre people are amateur psychologists after all. I guess authors are too, which brings me back to my novel. I’m so grateful that my muse gave me the idea for Georgiana to be a problem child. Though I’m sensitive and it’s hard for me to write, I know from experience that none of us can grow without embracing life disruptions. And to tell the truth, my life would be boring if I had the same routine and the same mental constructs I had when I was much younger. I’d much rather embrace change.

That’s all for today. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you continue to get something out of this blog. Feel free to leave a comment. I appreciate them very much.

Happy weekend to you all.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden ©2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Only Jenna joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, instead of traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

It’s All in Our Heads

Human Brain Thinking

“Perception is reality.” ~ Lee Atwater

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

This has happened to me and maybe it has to you too. You’re going along, life is great, or not so great, but familiar and … boom … something happens and your life is turned upside down. It can be something as small as a minor car accident that disrupts your life for a while, to something big, like losing your job, your spouse, or receiving a life threatening diagnosis. The way we react or respond to these types of events is literally all in our heads.

I used both words react and respond in the above sentence because to me they are two different ways of conducting oneself in everyday life. To react, in my mind, is negative. Someone says or does something and instead of taking in the information and evaluating it, we go on the attack. To respond is to take a few breaths, look at all sides of what has happened, and then decide how we are going to proceed in that situation.

Over the years I’ve changed from someone who reacts to events and people, to someone who responds. I don’t remember the exact incident, but I do remember the feeling of relief when I accepted that I was responsible for my life. And that my nature was made up of both light and darkness. It wasn’t always easy to make the change from feeling like the world was against me to realizing that it was my attitude that had an affect on the way I was experiencing life. But little by little I stopped looking outside myself for solutions and began untangling all the junk assumptions I’d held onto for so long.

I was reminded of how I transformed my life when I read a very introspective blog post by Sam Wood titled “The Last Jedi, toxic masculinity, and showing your place in all this

I’m a big Star Wars fan, have been since the first movie came out in 1977. It’s an epic series about light and dark, facing personal demons, and finding your path. And after watching The Power of Myth a conversation between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, who happened to be George Lucas’ teacher, I realized that we create myths to explain our deepest fears, hopes, and dreams. Most of the science fiction, fantasy, and superhero books and movies produced today are our modern myths. They help us figure out real life issues from a safe distance.

The thing I loved about Sam Wood’s post was his examination of a car crash kind of turning point in our world, that of white male identity. Here’s a telling quote from the article: “It’s no mistake I say ‘he’. Heroism, protagonessence, being the best, being supreme is the legacy of whiteness, of patriarchy, of heteronormativity. It is the toxicity that suffuses the identity of young white men, that suffuses my identity. And before The Last Jedi I had never seen it been represented simultaneously so sympathetically, and with so little indulgence of my bullshit.”

When I read this blog post, I had seen The Last Jedi twice, and I thought his observations were brilliant. The “heroes” of the story all have a very male point of view. They think of themselves as heroes and it’s their job to save the day, or berate themselves for failing to do so. Okay Finn doesn’t accept that mantle, but people keep trying to thrust it upon him. Each man struggles with this way of seeing themselves. And what happens? Each of them fail epically. When that happens, the way they see themselves and the world is shaken, which gives them the opportunity to change their perceptions.

It’s the women, Rey, Leia Organa, Vice Admiral Holdo, and Rose, who propose new ways of looking the world and themselves. When Rose stops Finn from a Kamikaze stunt, he asks her why. She says, “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but by saving what we love!”

Rey resists Kylo’s plea to join him in ruling the galaxy. She tries to get him to acknowledge his own light, but he refuses. She follows her own inner guidance and rejoins the resistance.

And in the end, when there are only about forty resistance fighters left, Rey asks Leia how they can turn the tide against the evil First Order. Leia says, “We have everything we need.” In other words, it’s what they have inside that counts, not the number of weapons they wield.

The story belongs to Rey and the other women. They offer Luke, Po, Finn, and Kylo the opportunity to change. They invite them to be a part of a bigger and more important effort to change the galaxy through cooperation. Kylo is the only one who doesn’t accept. He wants to ease his suffering by becoming supreme leader thinking that will solve all his problems. He doesn’t understand that his problems are imaginary, created inside his own head and emotions. That’s how it is with all of us, we create our own problems. And that’s where we have to solve them.

There are times when I look at the way my life is going and I’m tempted to slide back into blaming the fates for the things I’d like to be different. 2017 was that kind of year. But then I remember, that the world I see is the one I’ve created and I can change my mind any time I so choose. Since blaming events outside myself hasn’t made anything in my life better, I think I’ll take a step back and let go of some more of the things I thought I knew for sure.

Blessings for your new year. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.