Stories beneath the surface
The Library of Libraries is a book-filled paradise. Its walls carry the testimonies of all humans, those who’ve lived and those who will live. Each soul has his own book.
Your Book is thick with a hundred thousand words, your name printed in bright blue letters across the cover. What’s your Book about? Where does it start, and where does it take you? What’s the tone? What vocabulary does it employ? Are there photos, graphs, newspaper articles, drawings, and stickers (the kind that smell good)? Is there fiction? Is there a soundtrack?
Each of us has a story to write. What is yours?
Most often our stories stir beneath the surface. They’re crazy narratives with crazy subjects. Want to write about honey-wine rivers with dancing mermaids? Sure. Go for it. A gallop of gluttonous glee? Alliteration is cool. The kiss that drowns all inhibitions? Romance and passion is fun too. But that’s the magnificent part about stories that lie just beneath the surface. You can get away with anything. They tolerate all angles. They embrace all perspectives. Everything is allowed. There are no rules here. Whether you seek fame, escape, peace, fun, alcohol, fantasy creatures, alliteration, illegal kisses, or puppy-dog-tales, it’s good. It’s all good. Your story must be written.
But there are two problems. (1) You have to find this “beneath the surface” place (the source of the story). (2) And you can’t write without a Notebook.
We’re complicated critters: seeking “beneath the surface”
First, there’s the outside world. That’s where “reality” exists: the sofa, the AC rushing in the background, Star Trek on TV, worries about an event horizon, and the sound of the key board chirping as I type type type. Here is where mankind hovers. This is the world that comes easiest to him. “Is dinner ready? Is my brother okay? What do I need to get done before bedtime? How is Captain Janeway going to save the ship from that singularity?”
If the outside world is sofa, Star Trek, key board, and dinner, then turn around and look the opposite direction. Look under the surface. Really, look for the subconscious.
It’s a special skill, the ability to look under the surface. At first there’s frustration and boredom. It’s a crazy endeavor. What am I looking for? What’s under here, anyway? You fear grand secrets and heartache and childhood trauma, and you’re haunted by visions of colorful clowns prancing back and forth in horrible, twisted ways. You’re not sure you want to know this place. Rather return to Start Trek.
Then one day you see it.
There’s a tiny window. You sit by the window long enough and you catch a glimpse of this hidden place. What’s down there?
There’s a landscape beneath the surface, a place awash with vivid spirits, fantasy colors and scents, creatures that belong in dreams, and a soundtrack so precious it brings tears to the eyes. This is the land where thought moves mountains. Here love is triggered by fat little kids with wings. Thumping devices keep massive monsters at bay, distant worlds experience life through avatars, and a computer screen moves you to emotionally crave a Notebook. There are a thousand possibilities: the story isn’t finished, and it’s this inner world that will help you write it..
We all have a subconscious, whether we’re in touch with it or not. You don’t have to call it subconscious. Maybe inner world, Imagination, Potential, Hidden memories, or Collective Unconscious are better. The name doesn’t matter. Remember it for what it is — what do you call it? – it’s here, right here, sitting next to you. Just beneath the surface.
Go Buy a Notebook.
Yep, you need a Notebook.
It isn’t a diary. Unless you feel an urgent need, it won’t be a place to curl up and write about your day. Here you’ll record your journey, yes, but each page will be carefully planned before you touch it. Words will be pre-planned. Artwork, whether yours or borrowed, will be sketched out ahead of time or rendered and pasted into place. The writing, typed or written long-hand, will be practiced and finalized. The page will be artistic. You will return to it in ten years and remember who you were, why you were, and where you were going. Perhaps your children or children’s children will find it in fifty years and see the Notebook for what it is: a testament. It’s a witness to the travels that await you.*
The type of notebook varies by whim. We recommend something sturdy, with thick pages to weather the tape and glue and erasing and years that await it; white paper with no lines is best (lines symbolically restrict one’s freedom); and large pages with lots of white space. More pages are better. Replacing the book every two weeks is the pits. Detachable pages are a gem. You’ll make mistakes; the chance to tear them out and start afresh is a godsend. This is your Notebook. You control the recording and final product. Choose your book carefully.
Here are some other thoughts.
- Consider gathering supplies to paint, draw, and sketch. You don’t have to be an artist to make this journey. In fact, you don’t have to draw a thing if you don’t want to, but if visual expression is your forte, collect what you need to make the art happen. You can draw directly into your book or paste copies.
- Don’t worry if you can’t draw or paint. Collect designs around you. Wine bottle labels are some of the author’s favorites. Napkin doodles, art magazine images, and pressed flowers are lovely too. You’ll need tape or glue to stick the copies into your Notebook.
- You’ll need computer access. Your PC offers a wealth of pictures and photographs for your book, and since it’s for you only (and possibly your heirs), copyright laws aren’t a major issue. Online you’ll also find poetry, philosophy, quotations, puzzles, vocabulary, calligraphy, and other pieces of inspiration that might further your travels.
- Use Word or Publisher. You can do your layout on the computer using Word or Publisher. Simply type your words, scan or copy & paste your pictures, and voila, you have it. When finished, print using high quality and simply stick the final product into your book.
- Old style layout is perhaps lovelier. Draw pictures directly into the book or stick/tape, write your words carefully (some prefer calligraphy), and focus on the movement of pen, the balance and arrangement of your pieces, and the colors you choose to pull it together.
- Optional items include mood music, incense, and candles.
Introspection means time alone.
As this voyage explores your internal world, getting you closer to what lies underneath, we don’t recommend you share individual experiences with others until the week’s page is complete. Get the events on paper, establish what happened and anchor them to the ground – then share. If others take the same journey, consider meeting regularly to exchange discoveries, but after the fact. Always after the fact.
Ready? Go forth and find your Notebook.
We’ll see you in June.
“Without this playing with fantasy, no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.”
Thanks for reading Class 1, Your Journey. New “classes” are released once/month. This course is influenced by Jung, Keats, Descartes, mindfulness philosophy, positive psychology, creativity, and the occasional rush of laughter. We like the comical.
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