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Healing: A Half-Step into Self-Forgetting

baseball.chicagodiabetesproject.org

Sometimes healing is like baseball.

The other day, I started feeling symptoms of a cold.

I prayed to the angels to heal me.
I prayed to Jesus to help me.
I prayed for the Great Spirit to protect me.

The symptoms got worse.
I thought my prayers weren’t being answered.

Put down your aloneness and ease into the conversation, says poet David Whyte.

I persisted in praying for help.

Soon, an idea came to me: Baseball.

When you step up to bat, your mind is fully focused on putting the ball where you want it. Now, focus your consciousness on what you want! Realize peace and health are already yours. The Spirit in the midst of you is infinite. What does that mean? There is nothing else. So-called physical symptoms don’t mean a thing unless you give them meaning. Spirit is infinite, and It is Love, therefore there are no good/evil germs, there is only the embodiment of Spirit. Sickness is a belief/effect of other powers, causes, conditions. Focus your vision! Heaven on Earth is right here, right now, dear heart. Let it flood the sphere of your experience.

I gave thanks and the symptoms soon abated.

This is how prayers are often answered. The angels, Jesus, and Spirit did not heal my body. They guided me to step up to the plate, to forget about my human self, and all that I’d been told about the body, germs, physical laws. To be fully focused on Spirit. That was the healing.

Magical Realism That Drowns Us, con’t

…Magical realism has finally found a toehold in mainstream America. If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a finger on the national pulse, it seems America is ready for stories that treat supernatural and mythic themes as a natural part of life.

I’ve been drawn to mysticism and spirituality most of my adult life. During this time, I’ve witnessed a number of healings (my own and others’)—from the common cold to terminal cancer—without the aid of medical science. So-called miracles have become a natural part of my life. As a writer, I am excited to build stories on this premise. With a little help from Charles Dickens, I follow a tradition of subverting expectations and use irony to call into question social and religious traditions. For example, in The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, I address Pappy’s bigotry in a historic (and personal) context while showing him also as protective of bi-racial, disabled, troublesome Moojie. On the other hand, Moojie, who is developmentally  challenged, is often wiser than Pappy and the adults around him. Another example can be found in The Whale Rider. Paikea, the protagonist, is excluded from her grandfather’s search for the next tribal chief because she is a girl, but she is more capable than any of his male choices.

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My greatest wish as a writer is to publish stories that show characters subverting human expectations by awakening to their divine nature. As some of you know, for the past year I’ve been working on the film adaptation of Moojie Littleman, Book 1. Adaptation and screenwriting are completely different from novel writing so there are a number of changes to the story, but the basic themes and premise remain true to the book. My mentor, John Crye—writer, actor, producer, editor, and former Creative Director of Newmarket Films (produced Whale Rider)—is as excited about magical realism as I am. While my screenplay is still in development, I credit John’s magnificent oversight for this pre-production review:

“The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman” is an emotionally powerful and viscerally stunning fantasy with a fascinating and hard-hitting family drama not overshadowed by all the spectacle. We are, with Moojie, entering a strange new world here where the incredible seems possible. At the heart of the story is always his quest for belonging, a universal human drive that resonates even in such extraordinary circumstances. The Light-Eaters are intriguing and capable of holding our interest with both their capabilities and thematic nature. Nahzi is a particularly breathtaking and memorable element. They are inspirational as well, and we can see that it is Moojie’s time with them that helps him mature in the way that he does, whether it is taking responsibility for starting the trouble, or telling Babylonia he loves her with the stirring speech, “The day I met you, it was like I fell asleep and woke up in a better world.”—THE BLACK LIST, Hollywood (Aug/2018)

Europe, Australia, and South America have long-embraced magical realism in art, literature, and film. It is thrilling to see it finally recognized in America. Thanks to David Lynch’s legacy, and other commercially successful films, like Being John Malkovich, Donnie Darko, and Edward Scissorhands, the road has been paved for stories that normalize mythical, spiritual, and mystical experiences. If you are drawn to films like this, you’re going to love the Moojie film! Also, here are some magical realist films worth seeing: The Whale Rider, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amélie, Micmacs, The Delicatessen, The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, and Pan’s Labyrinth.

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So it’s onward and upward! Time to get back to work. I love hearing from you. Whether you are parenting or writing or being the CEO of a national corporation, I want to hear how you are following your dreams!

 

Adaptation in development …

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Script Review from Los Angeles –

“The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman” is an emotionally powerful and viscerally stunning fantasy with a fascinating and hard-hitting family drama not overshadowed by all the spectacle. We are, with Moojie, entering a strange new world here where the incredible seems possible. At the heart of the story is always his quest for belonging, a universal human drive that resonates even in such extraordinary circumstances. The Light-Eaters are intriguing and capable of holding our interest with both their capabilities and thematic nature. Nahzi is a particularly breathtaking and memorable element. They are inspirational as well, and we can see that it is Moojie’s time with them that helps him mature in the way that he does, whether it is taking responsibility for starting the trouble, or telling Babylonia he loves her with the stirring speech, “The day I met you, it was like I fell asleep and woke up in a better world”.—THE BLACK LIST (August 2018)

What Writers Can Do To Help End Terrorism, Oppression, and Racism

In light of the recent terrorist attacks, and the surge in Neo-Nazism and white supremacy, I keep asking myself, how can I, a writer, lend a hand to my grieving, fearful, angry brothers and sisters?

In January I visited the amazing Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, not too far from the Las Ramblas terrorist attack. The primary architect, Antoni Gaudí, worked on the cathedral for 43 years, before passing on. Still under construction today, it represents a century-long collaboration which is scheduled for completion in 2020.

What inspires me about Sagrada, beyond its awe-striking beauty and crafting, is that literally hundreds and hundreds of architects, artisans, masons, builders, and artists have formed links to its creation. “The creation continues incessantly through the media of man,” said Gaudí. In this sense, Sagrada Familia represents how inspired visions are erected first in our minds, and how we are all part of a magnificent collaboration that began before time. Our individual dreams for a better world are links in the chain of eternity, live manifestations streaming through the appearance of time, accompanied by masters and prophets and saints and angels.

Sometimes weeks, months, years pass when our efforts to provide inspiration or comfort seem futile. Sometimes violent events kick against our visions, they howl and snarl and dig in. When this happens, it’s tempting to give into negative, condemning thoughts. Giving in can feel like the great monument of faith we have worked so long and so hard to realize has crumbled and taken heaven with it. But we gather ourselves up again, aligning with universal Grace and Love, magnifying higher aspirations as we know them, glorifying what is transcendent—what lies beyond the reach of temporal power—and by Grace the “cathedral” reappears. In fact, it never went anywhere.

Gaudí didn’t live long enough to see the finished Sagrada. But I imagine it was complete in his mind, a vision attesting to heaven on earth, a living thing. In the same way, we writers who are giving voices to the marginalized, oppressed, and forsaken populations might not see the completed version of our world vision. However, as links in the Grand Collaboration, our efforts will uphold and bear forth as universal monuments to unity. In our persistence, like the masters before us—many named and unnamed—our “cathedrals” shield us and others from the backwash of superstition and ignorance, as surely as they will provide solace and shelter and inspiration to the disenfranchised.

Magical Realism: Finding A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings

On my twentieth birthday, a friend gave me a collection of Garcia-Marquez short stories. One in particular, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” changed me in a fundamental way. It didn’t make me wiser; it didn’t make me ponder the great wonders of the universe. This story of a winged man, crab-filled skies and astral-bottomed women with green-glowing eyes, gave my soul permission to speak. Till then, I didn’t realize it had anything to say

Over time, I discovered that being a writer was a lot like raising a child with a stern grandmother standing behind you: the minute one stage ends, she points to a worse one coming up. Or so I thought until I attended a university lecture. The speaker of the night was the infamous and notorious Junot Diaz. Of the many profound insights he offered, this one made the biggest impression: writers should ignore other people’s opinions. Pondering his lecture helped me enormously when writing a first NTBP (never-to-be-published) novel because it turns out I couldn’t remember anything else he said. For a while, his advice enabled me to indulge in soliciting feedback from others and then ignoring it entirely.

After decades of writing for the pure joy of it, I can say one thing for sure. A good yarn is hard to come by. I can assure you I have many other pearls of wisdom, and am confident that because of this I need not fear that you will be influenced solely by my lack of impressive credentials, publishing credits or celebrity endorsements.

In order to share a little more about my influences, two footnotes come to mind.

First, I never planned to be a writer. In fact, I had reading challenges in my early years. It wasn’t until high school that I learned to read fluently, an achievement to which I give Franz Kafka partial credit. You see, I could not put down “The Metamorphosis.” After this, I simply could not not write. This led to a series of notebooks, teenage rants on how it feels to live in a perpetual state of underwater.

Second, after getting my first NTBP novel and screenplay out of the way, I interned and later wrote freelance for a local newspaper. Writing human-interest stories, restaurant, movie, and book reviews on deadline taught me a very important lesson: to stop niggling and get the first draft down.

Around that time, Magical Realism took me hostage, literally. To begin with, I was raising a son who did things differently. He walked, talked, and learned differently than most inhabitants of this galaxy. This experience caused me to question every reasonable belief, opinion, and judgment I had accepted about the nature of reality and God. It sent me on a wild quest for answers, a long, fruitful adventure into spiritual study and practice, a degree in literature and writing, gushing first drafts and furious ruminations, and the first fruits of which were a collection of short stories involving a leopard who dreams of being a businessman, a lovelorn medical resident who gives cadavers psychic readings, Euripides and Sophocles jotting down inspired lines while girl and boy watching at an outdoor café.

Since then, I have been snatching words and phrases out of the ethers to record them like they were potent charms. Magical Realism allows me room to explore themes of love, identity, spirituality, power, social/political concepts, and the nature of reality from a fresh point of view. It gives my imagination freedom to run. It lit the spark of a thirteen-year fire that fueled the writing of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, my debut novel.

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop 2017. Lots of blogs are taking part this year, all posting about magic realism in some form or other. Just click the links below to “hop” around the blogs. Have fun!

The Hop runs from 28th – 30th July, although you will be able to visit after that. Posts will be added throughout the three days, so do come back and see what’s new.

LINK to Blog Hop: http://magic-realism-books.blogspot.co.uk/2017/07/welcome-to-magic-realism-blog-hop-2017.html

Q&A

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What do you think about Wordsworth’s way of looking at the world, and how is it similar in Moojie Littleman?–Abhimanyu Pandey

 

Regarding Wordsworth’s “The Idiot Boy” and “We Are Seven”, it can be said that William Wordsworth and I share a mutual interest in children trapped in difficult circumstances. Children are also wiser than grownups or figures of authority. Moojie, an unwanted, disabled boy, teaches his aunt, a professor, his grandfather, a Civil War captain, and his adoptive father, a mapmaker, lessons in compassion, grace, and faith, lessons that nudge them beyond academia, history, and science.

Wordsworth also speaks of “invisible presences” and  “unknown modes of being”.  In “Tintern Abbey” he writes:

…And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of the setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:

In the same poem, he says, We are laid asleep in body and become a living soul.

He refers to himself as a pagan who sees nature as a living being that communicates with us. Strangely, I, who consider myself a mystic, share a fascination with revelation,  transcendent experiences, and unified, loving forces of the universe. In The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman, there is a moment of awakening when Moojie looks out at the night sky and The stars seemed to be talking, beaming out a bright message to him. (p. 56). While Wordsworth and I may differ in our names for the consciousness that speaks through nature, we seem to share a consensus that there is a “voice” or an “ineffable” presence with whom we can commune.