What wakes you to yourself?
“Falling Awake” is the title of my memoir (if I ever finish it).
Each week I try to spend some reflective time in gratitude. I bring to mind all that I am thankful for, and it fills my heart with healing and acceptance for all the things in my life that are not going as well. But this week, a few unexpected questions popped up. I found myself feeling grateful and wondering just how I ended up so… well… lucky. I have the best friends and family a person could ever hope for. But how, exactly, did that happen?
For many years, starting as far back as the middle grades, all I wanted was to be left alone to write my stories and songs. I didn’t want to be around people until I had finished… until I believed my creations ready to be heard, seen, felt.
I have always been driven to create. For every song I wrote, another came on its heels, and always, always, more ideas waited in the wings. Stories pour out of me onto the page. And for every story I write, there are 20 more screaming for my attention.
I have always known my purpose on earth. I came here to create.
It took me years to learn that I also came here to love, to awaken, to evolve, and to experience all that real life has to offer; good, bad, happy, sad, fortune and misfortune.
For the longest time, I felt I didn’t belong here… on this planet. I felt out of place in the human world, perhaps, in part, because of my dyslexia… that and my over-abundant imagination, which got me in trouble periodically throughout grade school. So as a child, I somehow decided it would be a good idea not to need anyone. After all, I had my stories to keep me engaged, and my characters to keep me in good company. I poured love into my stories and received an immeasurable love in return.
Being a writer has brought me great joy, nearly all my life.
And for years, I couldn’t understand why the humans around me loved and accepted me so completely. I paid them little or no attention, at least not while I was possessed by a plot… submerged in a story, exploring other realms and alternate universes… falling in love with the beings that populate my curious worlds.
I wondered how it was that I possessed any friends at all, let alone the amazing, caring, intelligent, loving, loyal, fun, interesting, laugh-til-our-sides-hurt, cry-til-our-hearts-heal type of friends. And my family is the same way for me. So how did I get so lucky? It seems no matter how I ignore them, they still love me and are always willing to listen to my songs or read my books when I emerge from my creative hibernations.
Some figured out they can, by reading or listening, learn all about what has occupied my mind “as of late.” But then, when I do finally return, it takes me a while to figure out how to interact with real humans again and I usually end up jabbering. On and on I go about the worlds I have visited, as if I’ve been to Italy and met the Pope in Rome, or taken tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. As far as I am concerned, I have dined with royalty, solved the mysteries of the universe, flown on the backs of dragons. My experiences, my memories, even my emotions, all say I have been away… far, far away on a very long and wondrous journey, to distant lands, enchanted with magical creatures. I’ve marched with comrades and battled monsters, found true treasures and inner riches, shared love and laughter, tragedy and tears, faced invincible foes, unbeatable odds, and lived to tell the tale. I have danced with heroes and become one myself by association.
I’ve always believed in the power of dreams. The world is a magical place for me, not just in words but in everyday life, because when you believe, magic happens.
I am one of the luckiest people I know, not because I have had it easy, quite the contrary—I have had more than my share of trials and hardships—but because the pain of those experiences has not robbed me of my wonder, my intuitive senses, my faith, my capacity to love, or my ability to forgive.
Where many of this world occupy their minds with worry or stress, fear or anger, problems and pitfalls, and all manner of human drama, I spend most of my brain cells on the creation of worlds, creatures, minds and hearts, and all the extraordinarily strange things that emerge from the depths of my creative soul. And I often occupy my non-writing hours studying human nature and relationship to better understand not only my characters but my friends and family as well.
But there’s no denying it. My thoughts are more occupied with the stuff of fantasy than reality. And although that can get me in a heap of trouble sometimes, when I forget to take care of the practical things, like paying bills or filing taxes, it also means I am usually in a pleasant mood, noticing the beauty in all that surrounds me. It means I have not lost my child-like wonder of this magnificent world. It means I smile… a lot. It means I ponder the big questions—what are our spirits made of? What’s “out there” beyond our grasp? Is time an illusion?—instead of the small questions, like what’s for dinner, or where to buy a new pair of shoes.
It means I would make a terrible wife, and yet I have a man who loves me and treats me like gold. It means that I am loving and loyal to my friends, even when I am ignoring them, and they are loving and loyal in return, even when they’ve been ignored.
It means I am absent-minded, and often clumsy and awkward in the “real world,” yet those around me not only forgive my foibles and idiosyncrasies, but also help me find my keys, pick me up when I fall, and remind me when it’s their birthday without making me feel bad that I forgot.
The other day, while searching book 3 of The LightBridge Legacy manuscript for a quote, I found this; “You are what you focus on. What occupies your mind will soon occupy your life. If that is hatred, you will find a representation of hate in everything you feel, see, touch. If that is love, you will see the presence of love all around you.“
And it’s true… for I see heroes everywhere I look. Is it wrong to see past a person’s facade to the hero inside? Some think so. I have been accused of seeing only what I want to see, of not facing reality—the hard truth that people are cruel and self-centered. I’ve been blamed for always seeing the good and believing the best in people, even when it’s not there. And yes, that means I can be seen as naïvé at times, a target for the unbelievers and wrongdoers of the world, but, in truth, I would rather think the best of people and be taken advantage of every once in a while, then view the world with cynicism and skepticism and become jaded. I believe negativity is a form of mental pollution. It requires constant, vigilant recycling.
What if positivity is actually a superpower?
To look upon the world and its people with kind eyes is not a failing or a fallacy or a weakness. It took me years to learn that. It doesn’t mean I don’t see all that is “wrong” with the world, it only means that I have chosen not to regard adversity as bad or unnecessary. I’ve made a conscious choice not to judge harshly the actions of others because I truly believe we are all doing the best we can with the circumstances we’ve been given (or have chosen).
I believe that our souls choose for us those experiences that will help us evolve, but it is up to us to see the lessons and take the next step toward awareness. Those who do harm in this world have not yet awakened to their purpose. They are sleepwalkers who have not yet opened their eyes to what is good. There will always be sleepwalkers and sleep-wakers.
I have done my share of sleepwalking, but something always wakes me to myself. Often it is a book. Sometimes written by others, spiritual mentors I call them, and sometimes, it is my own stories that wake me. Putting pen to paper has such organic, ancient ties that it brings me back to myself again and again, and allows me access to my own wisdom. We all have that place in ourselves that knows the answers, that place that is connected to spirit, and it is up to us, each individually, to reach inside and listen. The more we do, the less we sleepwalk.
Love is the teacher here, no matter the lesson.
And love is the lesson, no matter the teacher. To awaken is to see that “every choice we make is either an expression of love or a call for love.” To awaken is to see anger, hate, malice (in yourself and others) and to feel only compassion, for these are all fear-based calls for love.
Those who express fear in hurtful ways are sleepwalking inside their own nightmares and have not yet found a way to wake themselves. If you return their hatred with hate, you do not contribute to their awakening, you reinforce their nightmare. If you reciprocate with love, you create the tiniest crack where light can shine through. You never know when someone might just see that light and walk toward it.
To be awake is to always make the choice for love.
Elayne G. James
PS: I am compelled to explain that when I say ‘”love” I am not talking about reaching out to sleepwalkers in all their rage, taking their hands, and telling them you love them. That will, at best, be ineffectual, and at worst, enrage them more. No, the love I refer to is what I call “beaming.” It takes only a moment. It is completely silent and exhibits no visual indicators. I just picture my heart opening up and beaming light, love, and acceptance directly to them. Often, they will not know what hit them, only that their anger is diffused a bit and they don’t quite feel like yelling anymore. It is an amazing thing to witness. But even if my “beaming” elicits no response at all, the good has been done, and I feel differently inside. Of course, I don’t always remember to do this when I am swept up in a moment of swirling emotion, but when I do have the presence of mind to take a step back and choose love over fear, miracles usually follow.
Elayne G. James is the author of the
adventure/fantasy coming-of-age series,
The LightBridge Legacy, and a warmhearted
holiday novel, The Saint of Carrington.