Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Passion


I mentioned the word passion on my previous post.
What is passion?
 I believe passion is the essence of any kind of art. In my writing life passion is the intense desire to create something with words. It is attached to discipline. Discipline is what helps you to attain your goals.
  My main goal is to read and write something meaningful. Let me be clear on this:  my passion is not to convince people to read what I write.
 Working on your creative passion brightens the shore of your island. It invites you to see the world through refreshed eyes.
  I also believe that being passionate is about being sensitive. Our societies may mock sensitivity and there is a general trend to believe that being sensitive means being weak. I disagree.
  Being sensitive makes you stronger. Being sensitive is about feeling the world under your skin. This does not make you weak. It makes you more compassionate and mindful, and it invites you to expand in different directions and to embrace the bittersweet side of life.
    Being passionate encourages you to create ripples that will reach the shore of other islands and universes.
  Working on your creative passion makes you feel the heat of spring amid the winter; it brings you a cool breeze in the summer. It’s like holding onto a raft in the turbulent waters of life.
    Working on your creative passion enables you to grow flowers in the desert and it infuses you with the resilience of a weed that survives a drought. Your passionate creativity transports you to diverse settings and will enhance your own identity by pouring over you a different one.
  There’s a time to feel sad and a time to feel happy, and the pain of different situations opens up bridges and highways to other souls. You need your solitude just as you need your time to share a part of yourself with others.
   Being passionate is what allows you to appreciate the beauty around you and to celebrate each second of your life because being sensitive is about being alive. (If you can’t feel pain, you are not as alive as you think you are).
  Being passionate is about conjuring up a world of possibilities under the rocks that you encounter in your journey. Working on your passion is like being inhabited by a population of birds in the core of your being. You watch the birds fly away in different directions, and you feel the bliss of knowing that a part of you exists in those birds while your feet are happily dancing on the ground.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Two of my short stories are out there...


 as part of two different anthologies, both in kindle and paperback.

  My short story “The Broken Wing of Your Ideal” is about a woman who volunteers to recruit people who want to learn to read and write  in a poor neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
  This short story was accepted for the  Freedom Forge Press Anthology, which is a compilation of essays and fictional tales related to freedom.
  My story "A Hospital in Latin America" is included in the "You, Me & a Bit of We" Anthology. It is based on a true story that I fictionalized.
 The "You, Me & a Bit of We" Anthology is a celebration of writing in first and second person.
  I will probably be blogging less frequently in September because I will focus on other writing projects that need my attention. The news is that my blogging schedule will continue to be irregular on a regular basis.
  My question for you is the following: Do you prefer other bloggers to have a regular blogging schedule or are you indifferent to it?
   Another important reason for blogging less frequently is that I’m also starting a new job in September. Outside my writing life I have another career that I love. I don't make a living writing. Writing is  a passion, an inner call that I cannot silence. It is something I will do until I die. In fact, there is nothing I do without passion.
 I am made of passion. 
  Till next time.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy birthday, Jorge Luis Borges


 "A writer-- and, I believe, generally all persons-- must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

"Writing is nothing more than a guided dream."

"The mind was dreaming. The world was its dream."

"You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and you will die before you have truly awakened."

"A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changeable and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships."

  I've been reading short stories and essays from "Labyrinths", a compilation of some of his work.
  How can  I describe the originality of his work? I can say that his stories are inspiring to the mind. He writes about the infinite, dreams, labyrinths and immortality. He creates imaginary and symbolic worlds while playing with the possibilities of time and space.
  His stories have historical, literary and philosophical allusions. Even if you can't grasp everything he intends to communicate, reading his stories awakens and fuels your imagination.
 Borges opens doors to unknown infinite corridors in the tunnel of the mind. He invites you to see the universe from imaginary perspectives. The power of his originality is intense. His prose is poetic and profound.
  Borges never wrote a novel. He crafted short stories, essays and poems. He identified himself first as a reader, then as a poet, and finally as a prose writer. Sometimes the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction  in his stories are blurred.
  Borges was born in Argentina, but he was nurtured on universal literature. His spiritual homeland was the world. In Argentina he was at odds with the Peronist dictatorship. For political reasons he lost his job as a librarian.
   "Any great and lasting book must be ambiguous, " he said.
   His international recognition came with the 1961 Formentor Prize, which he shared with Samuel Beckett.
  I shared a couple of his poems on my blog not long ago:

Everness
The Art of Poetry

Happy birthday, Jorge Luis Borges. Thank you for your legacy.

The Enigmas (poem)

I who am singing these lines today
Will be tomorrow the enigmatic corpse
Who dwells in a realm, magical and barren,
Without a before or an after or a when.
So say the mystics. I say I believe
Myself undeserving of Heaven or of Hell,
But make no predictions. Each man's tale
Shifts like the watery forms of Proteus.
What errant labyrinth, what blinding flash
Of splendor and glory shall become my fate
When the end of this adventure presents me with
The curious experience of death?
I want to drink its crystal-pure oblivion,
To be forever; but never to have been.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dreams and their meaning (Part II)


  If you have an interest in dreams and their meaning, Carl.G. Jung's "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" will mesmerize you. This book had a profound impact on my inner life. (I even had an epiphany close to the end of it).
  It is hard to describe this book because everything I say will undermine the depth of his thoughts, and I believe thoughts encompass  energy that is connected to personal experiences.
  I will complete this post with Jung's reflections in an attempt to communicate some of his insights without distorting them.
  This book is a trip into the recesses of the mind, an introspective account of  human experiences and reflections. Jung invites us to go beyond the realm of rational thinking and the boundaries of our reality.
   Jung starts narrating episodes of his childhood that reveal how he was at odds with his surroundings. He also wrote about his youth and how he decided to study medicine. Throughout the book he shares dreams and analyzes them. (If you have an interest in precognitive dreams and synchronicity, you will enjoy reading about his dreams).
  He also takes us to Africa, where he lived with different tribes and tried to plumb into the psyche of those people, struggling to capture their views, perspectives and dreams. The experience of being in touch with these people helped him to see his own culture with refreshed eyes. (He visited North Africa, Kenya, Uganda and India).
   Carl Jung was impelled to express his own ideas, and his boldness triggered some conflicts. His close relationship with Freud came to an end because of their different views and behaviors. As a result of this, many of his colleagues shunned Carl Jung.
  At one of their discussions, when they were analyzing their dreams, Freud refused to give details of a dream he'd had because he thought he would lose Jung's respect. Jung thought this was not an honest way of dealing with the matter.
      Last year I wrote a post about Carl Jung's Red Book and his confrontation with the unconscious. In "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" he gives us some information on some of the characters that appear in the Red Book.
   Another interesting aspect of "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" is the set of analytical reflections on different religions, but my favorite parts are in the last two chapters:
Chapter 11: On Life after Death
Chapter 12: Late thoughts.
 After his writing, there is an appendix of letters. Some of them were written by Freud. Others were written by Carl Jung to Emma, his wife.

 I've selected some of his quotes from the book because I think they deserve to be shared.

 "I have realized that one must accept the thoughts that go on within oneself of their own accord as part of one's reality. The categories of true and false are, of course, always present, but because they are not binding they take second place. The presence of thoughts is more important than our subjective judgment of them. But neither must these judgments be suppressed for they also are existent, thoughts which are part of our wholeness."
 "Rationalism and doctrinairism are the disease of our time; they pretend to have all the answers."
 "The unconscious helps by communicating things to us or making figurative allusions. It has other ways, too, of informing us of things which by all logic we could not possibly know. Consider synchronistic phenomena, premonitions and dreams that come true.
  "When one follows the path of individuation, when one lives one's own life, one must take mistakes into the bargain; life would not be complete without them. There is no guarantee-- not for a single moment-- that we will not fall into error or stumble into deadly peril. We may think there is a sure road. But that would be the road of death. Then nothing happens any longer-- at any rate, not the right things. Anyone who takes the sure road is as good as dead."
  "A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them. They then dwell in the house next door, and at any moment a flame may dart out and set fire to his house. Whenever we give up, leave behind and forget too much, there is always the danger that the things we have neglected will return with added force."
  "In my medical experience as well as in my own life I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is. I had to lay my hand on my mouth. Whatever one can say, no words express the whole. To speak of partial aspects is always too much or too little for only the whole is meaningful. We are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic 'love'. Being a part, man cannot grasp the whole. He is at its mercy. He may assent to it, or rebel against it, but he is always caught up by it and enclosed within it. He is dependent upon it and is sustained by it. Love is his light and his darkness, whose end he cannot see."
 "Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views that others find inadmissible."
 "It is important to have a secret, a premonition of things unknown. A man who has never experienced that has missed something important. He must sense that he lives in a world which in some respect is mysterious; that things happen and can be experienced which remain inexplicable; that not everything which happens can be anticipated. The unexpected and the incredible belong in this world. Only then life is whole."

"A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free. He is captive and driven by his demon."


Sunday, August 11, 2013

On lakes, ecopoetry and other matters



"To see a World in a grain of sand
   And a heaven in a Wild Flower
   Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
   And eternity in an hour."
 William Blake

 Who doesn't like to gaze at a blue lake? Who doesn't enjoy to soak the feet in its cool waters on a hot summer day? Don't we all enjoy the softness of the wet sand on our skin?
  Wisconsin lakes are associated with happy memories and experiences.
   Going to the beach, however, has become an unpleasant experience. The water in some places is now pestered by algae, and it stinks. Some areas  of sand look like coffee grounds. I noticed these changes last year when we lived  close to lake Michigan.
  Five years ago the water was clear. A friend of mine also encouraged me to look into the matter  after she expressed some concerns about the lakes in Wisconsin.
   One of the main culprits is pollution from factory farms. Unfortunately, the state is letting the industrial farms ignore water laws that protect the lakes.
    Industrial agriculture in Wisconsin creates as much untreated waste as 69 million people. That is 100 times more than the population of Milwaukee. Much of this animal waste ends up as run off pollution in the lakes, making them unfit for swimming, fishing or other activities. This waste is also associated with the proliferation of algae.
    It  is very important to make sure that the factory farms comply with the laws. You can read more on this here.
 
   Reading about ecology and the consequences of human interaction with the environment inspired me to write ecopoetry. I learned about this term for the first time when I came across this book at the library. It has a nice variety of nature poems and poems that deal with the interaction of human beings and the environment.
   How do we define ecopoetry? I did a google search to clarify this because I find the concept intriguing and interesting.
    Ecopoetry investigates the relationship between nature and culture, language and perception. Poetry is not limited by the intellect. It goes beyond the intellect and can provide deeper insights because it is intimately related to emotions and perceptions. It explores the connection between human beings and their environment, acknowledging that we cannot exist as separate entities.
    Even though there is no precise definition, the word ecopoetry embraces the ecological imperative for personal sensitivity and social change.
     James Engelhardt's essay "The Language Habitat, An Ecopoetry Manifesto" published at Octopus Magazine states that ecopoetry is about "connection". Poetry is a place to observe, to think, to negotiate between human and non-human concerns, to engage with environmental issues, whether directly or indirectly.
    Ecopoetry has an open-ended ability to ask questions.
 This is a list of literary journals and/or websites that have an interest in ecopoetry and environmental issues. If you would like to add a website or magazine that has an interest in environmental issues, feel free to let me know. Thank you.
Plumwood Mountain
Verse Wisconsin
http://poecology.org/
Octopus Magazine
Flyway
http://www.susanrichardsonwriter.co.uk/poet/ecopoetry





Friday, August 2, 2013

Life stories and a meaningful cause



"Many of the things can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made, and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer 'Tomorrow'; his name is 'Today'." Gabriela Mistral

    Sharon Bradshaw put together and edited a bunch of short stories and poems for a meaningful cause.
  The Hope and Dreams Anthology is about hope, endurance, love and second chances.
  
    My favorite story is “Amosi”, by Josephine Lilian Alice Grinham. This is the true story of a British woman who spent four years living in Tanzania. While she was there she hired a servant, Amosi.
   This story that moved me to tears will make you realize that little things we do can have a huge impact on somebody’s life. Sometimes we are too busy to notice this. All I am going to say is that Amosi is not a character that you will forget. This is a tale of honesty and friendship.

   Peter Caunt’s story “The End of School” is about a child in Africa, James, who is highly motivated to learn and study, but the school building has just been demolished for unclear reasons.
 The school building had been built by community volunteers with very few resources. His grandfather had dragged raw material for miles to help make this dream possible.
  James’s enthusiasm to learn, however, will be stronger than the effects of the destruction of the school building that had involved the work of many community volunteers.
  This anthology supports a cause in Ifakara, Tanzania, where weather changes can affect the harvest and become a cause for starvation. 
  In 2001 the contributors of the Free Bread Funds Ifakara supported the bakery project by helping to cover the costs for transport, clearing and installations. The Sisters of St Francis were trained to work on this project and now the bakery is self-funded.
  The bakery saves them from starvation, provides employment and also supplies bread to the Lepra Village and the local Orphanage.
   The supply of bread has had a positive effect on the children’s attention span. Over 80 % of the Free Bread Funds go to children, and they supply daily bread to nine wards of the St Francis Hospital and the Nazareti Leprosy Center.
 The bakery is kept clean, and the machines work well and are properly maintained. The Sisters make sure that everyone in need has access to bread irrespective of any tribal or religious affiliations.
   The Free Bread Funds have provided an irrigation system and now the farmers can grow rice, beans and spinach. Now the local people can afford medicine and have the resources to educate their kids.
    The Free Bread Funds continue to support this to make sure that no kid goes without bread. This anthology supports the Free Bread Funds and the Ifakara Bakery Project.
   For more information feel free to visit their website:
     “I cried because I had no shoes, when I saw a man who had no feet.” Mahatma Gandhi