Living in Real Worlds   2 comments

“Don’t get me wrong, I like your reality; it’s way more interesting than mine. It’s just that mine seems to be the one everyone else is in.” Courtesy of ivebecomemyparents.com

When I was in my teens, conversations with my mother about the future usually ended with her saying, “You have to live in the real world.”  This usually amused me, and sometimes annoyed me.  How little I knew at the time that her statement was loaded, that stuff was hanging off it and dripping into the reality overflow collection vat at the bottom of the psychic stairs.

1) She never once claimed that she lived in a real world.  But I had to.  Why was this?  The question isn’t as naive as it sounds.  And how could she tell I wasn’t already in the — or a — real world?  “It takes one to know one,” as we used to say. What was the give-away, I wonder?

2) Where did the compulsion to live in a real world come from?  Only from parents?  “You have to live there.”  Funny — if I hadn’t been living there, then I’d already disproved such a claim.  I didn’t have to live there, which was clear because I’d been living someplace else.  But she wanted me too.  Probably “for my own good,” which is along the lines of “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” (To their credit, my parents never said that to me.)

3) What is a real world?  How do you tell the difference between a real and an unreal world?  Is there more than one world, as this statement implies?  Sure seems like it. Then what’s the other world like?  How did she know?  And how did she decide or discover that this one is more real?  Simple majority vote?  “We live in this world, you — a single person — live in that one.  We win.”

4) Is it a whole world?  (Sometimes life seems like jumping from one to another of a subset of all possible worlds.)  There could be and probably are worlds far better, worse, uglier, stranger and more comfortable than this one.  Then again, maybe not.

It feels like we do live in several worlds, all of them real on their own terms.  Like we shift worlds all day long, moving from one to another with such ease we forget, we don’t notice, we assume reality is unitive and discrete, rather than a series of interpenetrating planes and grades and places.  Waking.  Fully awake.  Deeply focused.  Spacing in front of a video.  Lost in music.  Making love.  Eating.  Daydreaming.  Sleeping.  Dreaming. Tell me those are all identical states of consciousness, identical worlds!  I’ve had flying dreams, felt the wind rushing by around me.  Last I looked, trying to fly in this world lands you six feet under, or heavily medicated.

Judy Cannato in her book Radical Amazement observes that it’s always time for transformation.  To delay just makes the need for change more imperative and harder to ignore (though we’re pretty good at that).  Our widespread sense of dis-ease and general “stuckness” and malaise and dis-spiritedness arise from discernible causes and have discernible solutions:

Our attitudes and behaviors are rooted in a way of thinking that is no longer reflective of the real.  So much of the time we are stuck in the dualistic, hierarchical, either-or thinking that has created the very problems that threaten us.  We are not mechanisms with separate parts, but interconnected holons that are mutually dependent.  Yet far too often we cling to the individualism and dysfunctional systems that have “parented” us, molding obedient offspring carrying on the “family” tradition in a way that continues to devastate all life, others’ as well as our own.  Shifting to a new paradigm takes commitment and hard work.  It requires gut-wrenching honesty and the willingness to give up fear-filled control.  We al know what a difficult undertaking this is, but we are capable of the challenge and perhaps more ready than we think. (14)

For me one key here is that this is inner work as much as anything else.  I can start it, and I can start working on myself.  In fact, that’s the only place any of us will find a lasting and satisfying solution.  “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is not wishful thinking or unrealistic.  It’s in the copy of Life: An Owner’s Manual that was tied to my umbilical cord when I dropped in, a little over five decades ago.  Have you checked your copy recently?

/|\ /|\ /|\

Nanorimo update!  Speaking of real and unreal:  I’ve cleared 11,000 words — over one fifth of the way there!  With 2800 words today, I’m catching up, but today’s goal is 13336, so I need to get another thousand down by day’s end to be in the ballpark and be able to catch up in another day or so.  I now find myself writing some semi-detached scenes — backstory for my FMC — Nano-speak, I learned, for “female main character.”

Her name is Alza, and she’s a Harhanu — a succubus.  Why a succubus?  I’m finding out as I write, and I’ll let you know if I arrive at a definitive answer.  Right now, though, it seems to have something to do with desire and empathy and our capacity for both deluding ourselves into disaster and enchanting ourselves into freedom and discovery. Oh, and she’s 947 years old.  But she can be really hot when she chooses.  Like when she’s hungry.  Her most recent feed was from a German tourist named Konstant.  He’s one of two humans who know her real nature.  Their relationship is reciprocal.  Sort of.  Do I believe in succubi?  I do when I’m writing Alza’s voice, when she’s draining a victim, when she searches like we all do for meaning and purpose.  In some ways she’s the most human of my characters.  Which may be a problem I’ll need to work on.

That number (of people who know her) is about to change.  She’s made an entirely accidental (hah! so she thinks!) connection with a younger man (everyone is younger when you’re 947) named Nick who she’s discovering is crucial to her plans for living. And dying. Both of which she’s seriously considering.  She’s also seduced a priest or two in her long life, and once allowed a cult to form around her.  Now she’s more interested in laughing at Cosmo and Playboy and figuring out why one human should so dominate her thoughts when she’s used to doing the dominating.  Or at least getting what she wants.  Which is what men think they’re getting from her.  OK, some of this is pretty self-indulgent.  It’s also indicative of the space you get into when you’ve been writing all day!

So how does this connect with Druidry?  Who knows?!  I started writing on Nov. 1 with the small cluster of ideas that came to me, about three days before Nanowrimo began.  You go with what you get.  Years ago I started a historical novel set in Pre-Roman Etruria.  But that’s not what came calling this time, saying “write me!”  Hence, my current work.

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2 responses to “Living in Real Worlds

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  1. Interesting dose of food for thought. Personally always been of the opinion that the world is A. What you make of it, and B. I like my imagination as it is, thank you very much! It’s a very cozy place. Must be the writer in me.

    And you’re right – we cross so many worlds each day, just within the bounds of “reality,” it’s almost laughable to sift out the ultimate, universal “real world” we hear mentioned so much.

    As to the latter – congrats on the NaNoWriMo progress! Sounds like a saucy bit of work you’ve got going, there.

    • Thanks for visiting, Chris. “What we make of it” is indeed the imagination at work — we don’t realize how much of our lives is shaped by our attitudes towards them.

      And I love “saucy” as a descriptor for the pieces of story I’ve shared here. Thanks for that, too!

      — ADW

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