Novel by Christina Carson
Purchase at Amazon Kindle
Quote from Suffer the Little Children:
"Perhaps what we call misfortune is actually a place where the universe interrupts our habits that keep life so limited and small, forcing us to respond differently. The opportunity it offers depends on how hard we work to close the gap or hold it open, allowing ourselves to glimpse realities we've never glimpsed before."
Novel by Christina Carson
Quote from Dying to Know:
"I knew in that moment, we were never meant to surrender our childlike innocence, to trade a world in which we fit like a glove for one that hung on us like ill-fitting hand-me-downs. However, all about us insisted on our membership. And instead of a handshake or a mystical password as entrance into this spurious society, we agreed instead to share a lie, the one that says we’re safe, secure, and fulfilled living this way."
Blogs I Favor
Yesterday, while on Dictionary.com looking for the right word yet again, I spotted one of their little quizzes, and curious, clicked for the answer to their question: What word has 76 different meanings? My first thought was, thank God English is my first language. Can you imagine trying to accommodate from a different language, the notion that one word, “run,” could be used 76 different ways?
But then my mind returned to the subject at hand, friendship. I often find myself writing about it, because that particular arrangement among human beings is a stand-alone in my book. Within it, we come closest to the magnificent beings we truly are, for in the simplest of tributes, friends are those who always accept us, a commitment that awes us in its generosity and ennobles us with its trust. Let’s face it; anyone can be an acquaintance or associate, a lover or a mate, but few people reach the rarefied stature of friend in another’s life.
In my novels, I always have a character who exemplifies that role because for me it is the jewel in the crown of human relationships. Perhaps continued exposure will help us remember where true friend lives in us. We struggle with love as parents, husbands, and wives, the most critical relationships that confront us, those relationships entangling us in webs of needs and fears. But true friends, we neither damn with expectations, nor diminish with distrust. With them, we know from deep within us that in that moment we call on them, we will exist for each other as selfless, a state synonymous with unconditional love.
War creates friends. Disaster creates friends. And even the backside of wilderness, in the little farming community where I lived created friends. It isn’t that friendship lives only in tribulation, but rather it appears that something has to show us where it lives in us.
Joseph Roux reminds us that we have a ways to go in grasping the true significance of friendship, when he notes:
We call that person who has lost his father, an orphan; and a widower that man who has lost his wife. But that man who has known the immense unhappiness of losing a friend, by what name do we call him? Here every language is silent and holds its peace in impotence.
Imagine, 76 meanings for the word “run” and not one to signify the loss of someone who grants us a true experience of Love.
I was reading poetry this morning. I often read poetry before starting to write, as it shows me where the moment is and ushers me in. When we are present, we are attentive to reality; when we are not present, we are held in the gossipy soap opera of our minds. I began to reflect on an incident from the night before. A friend had called needing help in downloading a kindle reader app and one of Bert’s books. She’s brave to take on computers at this point in her life and that of computer technology’s. We, who started with DOS, can appreciate such courage. So it took a while to accomplish the task. At the end, she gushed her thanks, extoling Bert as so kind. Later he said to me, “Kind? I am not kind.” I understood. I wouldn’t call him kind either. That would be like thinking that when the Dalai Lama stated his religion was kindness he meant for us to go around being nice to each other; that was not his message.
Both the Dalai Lama and my husband know what it means to live from the moment, to attend to only one source of guidance in all things, to have become able to intercept it and then to have committed to following it past rational and beyond reasonable. It puts one in the position to make any situation proceed toward the best of outcomes. In some discussions that might appear as kindness; in others it could be deemed meanness. True kindness does not live in the relative world we've agreed to, the one which tends to leave us whip-lashed between two equally illusive descriptions. This world of oppositions is one the universe intends us to move beyond. There is indeed another way to view this world and ourselves in it. So says poet, Mary Oliver:
…My heart is out of its flesh-phase.
I am done with all of it, the habits, the patience.
Whoever I was, it is growing hazy and forgettable.
Whoever I am, it is for mere appearance’s sake.
It is for coin and foolishness,
and I am thinking of something better.
All morning it has been raining.
In the language of the garden, this is happiness.
The tissues perk and shine.
Truly this is the poem worth keeping.
A mossy house which anyone with any sense would enter
as soon as the soul begins
to desire the impossible.
I’ve never felt so young.
It was just a short trip to the print shop. Normally, I prefer silence to the radio, but this time I punched a button for an NPR station. My attention was immediately caught by the voice of a highly articulate woman who spoke with great intelligence and passion about a project that was bringing life and meaning, curiosity and richness to the lives of children. Beeban Kidron, a British film director, together with Lindsey Mackie birthed the education charity FILMCLUB, which is one of the largest and most influential after-school clubs in the United Kingdom, attracting over 160,000 children and young people each week. It is devoted to the art of storytelling through film.
When I arrived at my destination, the program was not yet finished. I turn off the engine and sat in the parking lot enthralled by what I heard Ms. Kidron suggesting, how film could fill the void left by the waning act of generational storytelling. She was calling for even more than that, something that also offered a communality of experience, and so she’d created it, FILMCLUB, where children as young as 5 years of age to those 18 years old view films of their choosing from a selection of curated films, then discuss, review, and come alive to what it feels like to be curious, involved, and excited again, as they find out that there is much they do care about. Ms. Kidron's program addresses the ironies that today’s youth live among:
“[Young people] are negotiating a world with infinite choice, but little culture of how to find meaningful experience.”
“The irony is palpable — technical access has never been greater, cultural access never weaker.”
The results to date, from 25 initial clubs in 2006, 1000 schools wanted to join at the end of the pilot. Presently, there are 7,000 clubs representing over a quarter million children. School work has improved, love of learning is blossoming, and the ability to relate to one another, parents, teachers, and life in general has advanced markedly among the participants, to mention but a few.
If you’ve ever doubted that significant change is possible, and that it is always an individual that initiates it, treat yourself to thirteen minutes of wonder and dream of the world we could offer our children with such a simple program.
Trust me, the blog that follows is a candidate for Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Even if you don’t care to read it, you might want to print it off, for it may be worth something in years to come as an anomaly—a technical article written by Christina Carson. If nothing else, it could offer a good laugh on a dark day.
I know, I know Mobi files don’t require page numbers, but when I decided to create paperback versions of my novels, there I was back up against the page numbering ordeal. It should be such a simple task, and can be, if you want only one set of numbers in your book, but a page number on your title page or Arabic numerals on your copywrite, dedication, preface, or content pages does shout amateur rather loudly. So normally, we’re stuck with at least two different requirements for page numbers in the simplest of documents, perhaps even three. And though Microsoft keeps tweaking its MS Word from year-to-year, somehow when it gets to page numbering, the devil whispers in the programmer’s ear and says with a cackle, “Let ‘em sweat the page number insertion again. No reason to make that rational, logical or remotely humane.” So here we are, version 2010 and still no joy.
I do have one bit of bright news to report, however. At 4:00 AM this morning, having started this fiasco somewhere in the afternoon of the day before, I realized I have made some substantial inroads, if not in my computer skills, at least in my own personal evolution, for I managed to finish the project without sighing enough to fill a large birthday balloon and, if I remember correctly, referring to the founder of Microsoft only once by a name his mother might take exception to. That is what advancement looks like Mr. Microsoft, in case you decide to actually change something in your next version where page numbering is concerned. So here goes my little technical piece.
Inserting Page Numbers into Sectioned Documents in Word 2010
1. First watch: Using Sections to Control Page Numbers, Headers and Footers
2. If you want headers, footers, or page numbers that vary throughout your document (i.e.,no page numbers on title page, roman numbers on intro pages, Arabic numerals throughout text), first divide your document into sections.
3. Start by turning on the hide/show command (the reverse paragraph sign on the command bar). This will enable you to see the section break commands and where they are situated.
4. To insert section breaks, go to the first page where you want a section to end and with your cursor under the last line of text: Click: PAGE LAYOUT-BREAKS-SECTION BREAKS-NEXT PAGE. Note: Choosing Next Page rather than Continuous, ensures a hard break between sections.
5. Now click INSERT and work from the Header/Footer Design Tab. Put your cursor in the second section and Click: INSERT-FOOTER-EDIT FOOTER. You will now be in the footer in Section Two. We want to disconnect Section Two footer from the footer in Section One. Here’s how:
6. Still working within Header/Footer Design Tab, you will see a line across the top of the footer that says Footer 2 on the left and Same as Previous on the right. This tells you that the footer in Section 2 is still linked to the footer in Section 1. To disconnect the footer of one section from the footer of a previous section, Click: LINK TO PREVIOUS which you will see yellowed up on the command line in the Header/Footer Design Tab. When the yellow is gone, that command is off, and you now have two sections where the footers are disconnected from each other.
7. To insert page numbers in section two, remain in the footer and Click: PAGE NUMBER-CURRENT POSITION, then indicate which presentation you want by clicking one of the examples presented. A page number will appear in your footer, but it will be a document number (where this page is in the document) not a section number (where this page is in its section). To correct that, Click: PAGE NUMBER-FORMAT. Then you select the Type of Number and then choose Start At button, and a numeral 1 will appear in that box. When you look down at your footer, you’ll see it too changed to a numeral 1, the appropriate number for its location in the section. Finally, to position your number where you would like it in the footer, Click: PAGE NUMBER-POSITION and make your choice.
8. Repeat this procedure for each section. And if you want a similar capability with the headers of each different section, repeat the above in the headers of each section.
9. One final note: Sometimes when introducing a Section, you will get an extra blank page added to the section. This will appear as a blank page on Kindle and in a print copy. Occasionally, one of these extra pages is present even without being visible. You realize they are there only when you print your document. To ensure this has not happened, print the page before your break and after it to see if any blank page shows up. To delete such pages, delete their Page Break command, which I usually do by going to VIEW-DRAFT. In that view the page breaks are visible and you highlight the offending one with your cursor and hit delete.
If you see any errors in this or have tricks I’ve missed that could make it easier or quicker still, please help us all by sharing with us in the comments.
P.S. Do you have that red key in the photo on your keyboard? I can't find it on mine?
I have dedicated the greater part of my life to exploring reasons for the apparent inability of human beings to get along with each other. There is no more glorious earthly experience, short of transcendence, than when human beings work or live together in complete harmony, the familial equivalent of an “in the zone” experience in sports where every team member does best precisely what they know to do at the same time, and the play completes itself perfectly as if by magic.
It’s not that we don’t have these experiences, for we do. It’s just that we don’t see that they are a result of choices we make, not some inexplicable magic. Since we don’t give ourselves the credit, we then don’t look in the right place to see how they came about, if we look at all.
The awful irony is that we are capable of those choices naturally, except for one situation, that being when we feel threatened—when we are afraid. And what we will not admit is that, in one form or another, we are afraid most all the time. Try to imagine how difficult a concept that was to get across to corporate upper management when I was a consultant, men who associated fear only with white knuckles, a grinding gut, and guns or knives present. If they were courageous enough to explore with me—and god bless ‘em some of them where—what they came to see was that fear has a thousand faces, and each time they looked into any one of them, the next choice they made was not the one that would invite success or harmony.
Let’s make it simple. Tension is a symptom of fear and who among us walks this earth without any tension, except the very young. We didn’t ask for this orientation toward life, but we did end up with it, and there is a logical explanation for those who care to know.
Family has always held my keenest interest, because within its sheltering arms there lies the greatest possibility for the nurturance that could take us to a more evolved state of mind, if only we were more curious. And conversely, the errors that happen there leave the greatest scars. My first novel records my exploration into a question that was most personal for me: what is it we do that drives our children from us? I needed to understand that more fully both from a child’s standpoint and that of an adult, and thus I wrote Suffer the Little Children, to see if there was a way out for us every-day folk. I didn’t manage to figure it out before both my parents were gone and thus any possibility for us was over. But I didn’t quit. Though I chose not to have kids because of that messed up affair, I knew there were others carrying forward the misguided interpretations of what happened to them as children and even more misguided behaviors they'd invented in response. I wanted to have written down, for anyone curious enough to wonder, words that were truly accessible that could help them see another way. And please understand me, I’m not talking about the horrors that some parents perpetrate on their children; I’m talking about the common experience the majority of us have growing up in our families, the subtle undermining of the wholeness we are born from by insisting we play the game too.
We are extraordinary beings, we humans, but we know next to nothing about ourselves. Instead we’ve chosen to work in acquisitions and distribution, because we’ve all but given up on the single truth that can be ours to know—ours is not to get love or give it; ours is to understand that we are Love, the very embodiment of that which can live in acceptance, openness, and harmony wherever we find ourselves. Otherwise, we are left with being merely a lesser god and our words continue to ring with the longing that Mary Oliver's, "The Visitor" in Dream Work captures so poignantly in this ode to her father long dead:
…But finally there came the night
when I rose out of my sheets
and stumbled down the hall.
The door fell open
and I knew I was saved
and could bear him
pathetic and hollow,
with even the least of his dreams
frozen inside him
and the meanness gone.
And I greeted him and asked him
into the house,
and lit the lamp,
and looked into his blank eyes
in which at last
I saw what a child must love,
I saw what love might have done
had we loved in time.
If you’re curious and want to see what I came to understand, have a read:
Suffer the Little Children
“The day was counting up its birds and never got the answer right.”
I don’t know who authored that thought, but if there were ever a sentence that so captures the sheer whimsy of life, that one would qualify. One, two three, oh what’s that red one called? Twenty-one, twenty-two, heh, is that a baby robin? Sixty-four; was it sixty-four I just said? Oh wait, there are five more. Oh dear, let's start again. One, two, three…
Life, its very essence, is spontaneity. Its nature is flow, inherently moving around obstacles, naturally eroding bumps in the way, effortlessly boiling through rapids or flattening into still pools, unfettered by attachment to some supposed duty, accomplishment, or trial. The only thing life resists is our continuing attempts to confine it, tether it, weigh it down, or judge it. Like a bird, it flitters by, catching our sense of wonder and ruining our count. Life wants us to awaken. Life wants us to put the pencil down, stop counting the birds, organizing them, naming them, wanting to know them through rules we’ve set down, instead of just watching them, opening to their wisdom of how life works, and letting it in.
The bureaucracy of ego informs us differently. Its mental conditioning makes us actually believe there are acts wholly good and wholly bad. That some lives are more important than others. That fear is real and originates out in the world. That you can somehow hurt me or me hurt you. It wants us to search for certainty as if it were a holy grail. In an ever-changing universe, it belittles us with the notion that certitude is our savior. If any of this makes you curious, know that life has just slipped its arm around you and is walking you off to a private little forest glade to make love. Don’t push it away. Don’t run now. Stay long enough to get more curious still.
The bureaucracy of ego is merely an exercise in limitation, its sweltering straightjacket pinning us to ourselves when everything in us wants to touch the stars. It holds us there like hypnotized subjects at a magic show, its post hypnotic suggestions planting erroneous notions of monsters in the mortgage payments and bogeymen in the basement. Does it really make sense that we are the only species on this planet that has to work at playfulness, hunt for purpose or live tense, frightened lives? Does that really make sense to you? Can you not believe there is a Way in this world that offers us a life at least as pleasant as our dog's?
Leaving the bureaucracy of ego is really quite straight forward. You need only be present. Any time the conversation in your mind stops-anytime-for however long, a second or three seconds or, oh my god, even a minute, you’ll have left the bureaucracy of ego to find yourself in the moment. And if you string a few of those moments closer together, you’ll begin to know what Life is truly about.
If you’re interested in the first blog that started this pondering, take a look at: The Bureaucracy of Ego.
As well, the Inspiration section of the website could be your morning donut with your coffee-very low cal!
We Are Not Without Resources
Wisdom from the Past and Present
If you are someone who likes to chew on ideas, especially ones that could have a worthwhile impact on your life, give a look at this most recent entry to the Inspiration Section on my website.
From insightful Herman Hesse in Klein and Wagner:
Mind invented contradictions, invented names; it called some things beautiful, some ugly, some good, some bad. One part of life was called love, another murder. How young, foolish, comical this mind was. One of its inventions was time. A subtle invention, a refined instrument for torturing the self even more keenly and making the world multiplex and difficult.
We the wordsmiths
we the lovers of language and meanings,
midwives birthing our stories and poems,
sensible enough to know fiction from non-fiction….in our trade,
yet totally bamboozled by our own lives.
Living as if we’d somehow escape
the consequences of made-up names and meanings,
of inventions that exist only in our minds,
while all of Nature chuckles kindly, its voice, though barely audible,
whispering genre, genre, you’ve mistaken your life’s genre.
If you enjoy bits of insight and inspiration, come visit:
We Are Not Without Resources
Wisdom of the Past and Present
Hurrah for Jo VonBargen. If you have been following her last couple of blogs [“A Look at Human Spirit” and “Leap of Faith: Dimensional Awareness”], you will notice she has boldly begun to explore another way to look at her world, our world, the world; whatever you want to call all that is in our purview. It is a courageous step. It is a fascinating step. It is a necessary step if we are ever to free ourselves from The Bureaucracy of Ego. I stole that term from Chögyam Trungpa, a Buddhist teacher of our times. I stole it because it is an utterly perfect title for an essential conversation that has been on-going for thousands of years: Who are we? What are we? Why are we here? So the wise Chögyam Trungpa [Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism] has given me an easy way into addressing the first of these questions—who are we—for we are the administrators in the bureaucracy of ego.
I am a practical person, not a theorist. For two-thirds of my life I have been working at the answers to these questions, because I was so dissatisfied with how life appeared to me. Life literally didn’t make sense, and to a mind trained in science yet wrapped in the patina of poetry, the imperative became make sense out of it or move on.
A bureaucracy is defined as excessive multiplication of, and concentration of power in administrators; or administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine. The definition couldn’t be more perfect. Here we each live in a state of consciousness, the bureaucracy of ego, where we indeed are the sole administrator, living among a set of rules, opinions, beliefs, values and habituated responses to them and agreeing that’s all there is to life. I say agreeing, not because that is our rhetoric, for often it isn’t. It is, however, our behavior, the manner in which we respond to the memos and orders that flourish in this bureaucracy. If you want to know what a person truly believes, you watch what they do, not what they say. And on those occasions where we really do try to cut a piece of red tape and sneak through the line, we find ourselves as if in a closed loop unceremoniously dumped back where we started.
As we see every day around us, bureaucracies don’t fall apart; they don’t dismantle themselves, in fact that tend to increase in complexity, redundancy, and inefficiency. Does that sound anything like a description of the history of your life?
The truth is the bureaucracy of ego is not without its cracks. There are places an interested and curious individual can insert a mental crowbar and pry open a belief or a value, and opinion or rule sufficient to see its crazy contradiction to what you thought you believed, valued, opined or demanded.
It is in the awareness of this on-going contradiction that the possibility of escape exists. Even if you can’t imagine an escape from what to what, something within you knows, or you wouldn’t get up each morning against all the odds you face and continue trying to create something better than you now have.
So in the spirit of Jo VonBargen, I’m going to continue on with the “who are we; what are we; why are we here” conversation, for we could all benefit from a clearer view, especially those capable of writing about the world as they see and understand it.
I momentarily borrowed the title to one of Tukaram’s poems that I love. Daniel Ladinsky, one of my favorite translators of ecstatic poetry, renders it so marvelously I wanted to share it with you. Laughter comes more naturally to those who slip further and further out of the clutch of self-absorption, and Tukaram, a 17th century Indian poet and saint was a hoot. I share this poem of his for I can’t imagine a poem with greater empathy than this one for those days when life has ground you down. Come along and have fun with Tukaram and his cat.
Landlocked in Fur
I was meditating with my cat the other day
and all of a sudden she shouted,
I knew exactly what she meant, but encouraged her
to say more—feeling if she got it all out on the table
she would sleep better that night.
So I responded, “Tell me more, dear,”
and she soulfully meowed,
“Well, I was mingled with the sky. I was comets
whizzing here and there. I was suns in heat, hell—I was galaxies.
But now look—I am landlocked in fur.”
To this I said, “I know exactly what you mean.”
What to say about conversation between
From Love Poems From God
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky
Now get along. Get back to whatever it was you were doing before you began agonizing. You see it happened to all of us, and there are days when, in spite of it all, it is a wonder. And there are days when it’s a bit of a bitch. Now that we have that established, pick up your pen or return to your keyboard and get writing. Those of you who are writing horror or paranormal stories presently, maybe you got landlocked one time in something a lot less benign than fur. Just a thought.
Over my year in social media, I’ve watched the tides of emotion running through the group I hang out with the most – writers, we souls on the edge of this new era of publishing and communication. Each in his own way started on a high point—finally we could be the gatekeeper of our dreams, we could put our books inexpensively and quickly into print. Then reality hit. Many people had that dream, and the virtual bookshelves stacked our tomes many levels deep, obscuring them almost as if they’d never been written. Of course, some ended up front and center, but not even their authors knew why. That didn’t stop us from running helter-skelter from one theory to another hoping to beat the odds.
Well here we are, and before the dark clouds settle in, and we begin to write a new take on that old impossibility called getting published, let’s see if there isn’t another way to address it.
There is an old saw I use whenever I’m seeking right orientation: The world’s going to do what the world’s going to do. It’s not mine to try to change that; its mine to decide how I’ll respond to it. The choices are always mine.
So what choice did I make? The wrong one at first, I admit. Wanting to escape a line of work that I have no interest in, I hung my dreams of supporting myself as a writer on selling books, which added a startling dimension of fear, clouding my vision. That never takes you where you want to go, unless you enjoy an on-going sense of despair. I finally came up for air when people started giving their books away free. That hit my lunacy limit and brought me up sharply. No way was I “selling my books for nothing,” which is the same as giving them away for free.
With that awakening, other points I’d failed to address began popping up like weeds on a golf green. Was I an author or merely a writer? Was it the craft and artistry that sung in my heart or producing products- numbers, sales, hype.
I can hear you back there saying, “How come we can’t have both?”
I am not saying if you take Art you get poverty and obscurity as the treat in the crackerjack box. I’m not saying that at all. I am saying that if you are true to yourself, if you make choices in line with what you know deep inside you, rather than choices you think will alleviate fear, your life will be one you love. Defensiveness, pity, anger, these are but a few of the emotions you get to live in when you don’t choose rightly, in case you're wondering.
I’m older than many of you. I’ve been down this road of ill-conception so many times it's downright embarrassing – but enough finally to realize it's the way most traveled, and I’ve never been keen on the beaten down path.
No matter what you seek success in, you must start from a right choice, one that your gut sanctions. Here’s one more insight I’ve experienced enough to know it’s real and true. When you do that, start from a right choice, the most amazing results accord to you, not as a reward, not as a fluke, but because there is a Way that works in this world, and every other earthly thing seems to know about it but us. So now you do too. You’re at least catching up to your dog, and come to think of it, when was the last time you saw your dog, sad, self-pitying or unsuccessful?
Are you game? I trust so. For one truly impossible act in this virtual kingdom of ours is to give you a hug or dry real tears if you choose wrongly.