Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Real Job

Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to be a writer. Although I went on to write poems, stories and myriad thoughts on scraps of paper, there was one vision that remained in the background. It was something special that I carried inside like a potential embryo.

This vision that would steal over me at night just before I drifted off to sleep was a world underground where dark elves lived. I was very young and my imagination was pure and free. There were no boundaries or guideposts. I saw flickering lights as soft as milkweed silks, and messages floating in the air of this underground world with the symmetry of Queen Anne's lace. Sometimes the elven people flitted into the shadows by the pond at twilight.

Eventually, as an adult, the novel was born. The hardback came out last year, and now, here's the paperback. My latest book signing went quite well. I had a wonderful time, met a lot of writers and readers, and sold five books.

It was bitterly cold outside, we'd had three inches of snow the day before, and my car wouldn't start in the morning, so I'd had to get a jump start. I haven't made a living as a writer yet.

In a perfect world, my book would be made into a fantasy adventure film starring Iman as the heroine Tiala. Claire Danes would be the fox-woman, Patrick Stewart the blue warrior elf, Clive Owen the wizard and Linda Hunt the ironic General Gudrun. Brad Pitt would be Obsidian.

Wesley Snipes could play the evil Dekhalis with great aplomb. Grace Jones would make a compelling ancient Nightwing on her death bed. Wallace Shawn could be typecast as the likeable villain Prince Mischa. Other parts would go to Venus Williams as Eleppon the cavalry-woman, Halle Berry as the diminutive Noth, and perhaps some yet untried newcomer as the innocent Inuari.

So many parts to play - so many opportunities for great acting - would fall like ripe apples from the tree. But like many artists, I will probably not live to see my own success. Of course, as a Buddhist, I try to stay in the middle ground between success and failure, indifferent to both. To be honest, I rather like the ignominious status of the undiscovered. I rather like unborn fame.

It's just one more dream to dream.

Monday, January 5, 2009

When You Wish Upon A Star

Though I might be more cynical now, this old Disney classic still has the power to send me back to childhood. The first time I listened to it, I was about five years old. We had a new black-and-white TV and we kids were not allowed to watch anything except the occasional Saturday cartoon or Disney which came on at 7:00 p.m.

This song would come on at the beginning or the end of the program. I admit I don’t remember, it was so long ago. I think it might have been at the end, and I seem to recall being so sad if the song didn't completely finish or a commercial intervened, or my parents told me to go to bed.

I remember how small the TV screen seemed to be, and how hard I wished to transport myself into it, and away from my parents and brother and sister in that living room. I just wanted so badly to be in that magical world where wishes come true.

Of course, children know what’s real, what’s important and what’s possible, and maybe have a much better grasp of these things than adults do. Even though you may have promised yourself at age 10 or 16 or 20, that you would never forget the lessons of childhood, I would bet that somewhere along the line, you could not keep that promise. At least, I failed to do so.

When we look at the stars, we still see the endless possibilities as limitless as space. We still see the twinkling lights of the cosmos, a constant reminder that we are merely a speck in the eternal diagram. And in knowing this, we may feel comforted that there is a larger picture and our small actions fade to nothingness in comparison.

Yet, as Pascal said in his Pensées, when we look under a microscope and see the infinitesimal size of the tiniest cell, we feel enormous, and our significance in the world appears to be gigantic. And conversely, when we look at the stars, we understand our insignificance. Both are needed. Our actions are important and do have an effect.

Contemporary science proves that emotion that is heartfelt and intense, affects DNA even when split off and separated by hundreds of miles. When it comes to real feeling, there is no time or space.

When it comes to heartfelt wishes, we may find that the child becomes our teacher, and in the words of William Wordsworth, “My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began. The Child is father of the Man.” Or woman.