July 19, 2022
Been thinking about writing a book?
Well, I thought about writing one for a long time. In fact, it took me thirty years to begin. The elusive book was always in the back of my mind. I filled countless journals with thoughts, impressions, observations of feelings & emotions, and well, sometimes just a recap of events. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to write about. Yet I knew it had to be a novel. Fiction has truth interwoven into the fibers of its pages, while non-fiction is inspired, invariably, with bits of fabrication.
I have always a loved a good story. An unusual novel I came across in my early thirties changed the trajectory of my life. I wanted to write a book like that. Infuse within the pages, potential seeds for contemplation. Perhaps even, for a few, become a subtle invitation to embark upon a journey of self-discovery, wherever that may lead.
I find it’s damn near impossible to recognize pivotal moments as they are happening. Only in retrospect, (sometimes many, many years) the ripples created by some random encounter or experience become clear. Fate or circumstance? That’s question I often revisit.
I was living in Panama. Certain regions seem to awaken the ease in which creativity flows for all of us. And Panama, was one of those places for me. Was it the flock of parakeets hanging out in the trees near my apartment? the proximity of two oceans? the abundance of rotting mangos dropped on the ground of the abandoned Airforce base? or maybe monkeys chattering and swinging from one tree branch to another? Whatever. My creative juices began to flow. I sat down and began to write from a writing prompt. I can’t tell you what it was. It has long since disappeared in the numerous rewrites Lotus has survived.
I began intuitively. I allowed the characters to introduce themselves and wrote for a while in one direction only to circle back and erase everything. The story had other ideas of where it was headed, like wind which flips trajectory on a dime. In a classical sense, I did everything wrong. And I paid a price for that. It took over seven years to complete a novel, which a more experienced writer might have written in a year. I didn’t know about outlines, storyline plans, and all the wonderful lessons I learned over the past seven years. Ooh, why did my character do that? I learned that whatever one writes has to make sense to all kinds of readers. Now I know that an outline is essential and can dramatically lessen the timeline of a book. And yet. I will always write with that intuitive voice whispering in my ear. Perhaps a blend of the two?
Let me backtrack a minute. The time was 2007. I was traveling and camping in Peru with nine fellow traveler/spiritual aspirants. We were on a mountain in an area called Vilcabamba, known as the lost city of the Incas. A very sacred place. There were three shamans with us. One evening, two of the shamans were doing divinations with cocoa leaves. For those who are unfamiliar with the ancient culture of the Incas, the descendants of the Incas are the Q’ero. Some of whom are medicine men and seers. Cocoa leaves are used as a form of divination and, when used by a knowledgeable practitioner, can shift energy, ie: reverse or soften possible future negative events. Hard to believe, you say? I’ve seen it. But. Until you have established a reference point for yourself, you won’t believe it, not really. A medicine man or shaman may throw the cocoa leaves and perceive from the toss, what is most pervasive in your energy field that day. Is there some negative possibility lurking in the shadows? With a simple movement of a cocoa leaf from one specific spot to another, the energy moves, and therefore, shifts the possible sequence of upcoming events.
I sat across from the shaman. He threw the cocoa leaves. He then spoke at length at what he saw in the design of the leaves that fell on to his mesa, or woven cloth. He told me incredibly accurate details about my daughter, my son and intimate facts of my life. He repositioned one or two, then threw the cocoa leaves for the third and final time. On the final toss, he looked up, “You are going to write a book.” Damn, I thought? How does he know I wanted to write a book? And then, he said, “But . . . you have to tell the Truth.”
Lotus is my attempt to write about life through the lens of fiction–—the beautiful and the damned. Not despite, but exactly within the hardships, joy and incongruencies of life, lies the possibility to awaken. Am I able to recognize the invisible link between a thought and its emotional counterpart? Am I able to sit with pain without running away? The pathway to freedom lies within.
I’ve wondered. Did the shaman plant a seed that grew to become Lotus? Or did he simply see what was already there?
Don’t wait thirty years! Begin!
At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assist you.
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