You ever pay attention to those connections in your life that seem to happen all on their own? Almost as if there was a time and a place for what just happened? These are times too perfect to be a coincidence, but not quite ambiguous for deja vu. You know what I’m referencing?
I love these moments! I’ve noticed that when my outlook is open, and I’m in an active rhythm, I find more of these happening. It’s both a feeling and a thought, like noticing a belabored puzzle piece falling and then clicking into place. They are extremely satisfying.
I’m required to be the initial catalyst, but then they’re out of my hands. Most of mine occur within nature and storytelling.
I want to share with you those slices of my life that come around precisely when I need them to. Something to note, though, is what I’m going to list isn’t based on a one-and-done scenario. I’ve found these same avenues to pop up in reoccurring parallel spaces of my life, and they find a way to build upon what I gained the previous time.
Without further ado, here we go.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.
This is, by far, my favorite book series. There are fourteen books, and I’ve completed the round three times. The first of many connections I have are with the characters themselves. I see pieces of myself in so many of them as well as not; male and female, hero or villain, a minor character, or one-time appearance.
Robert Jordan managed to capture the nuances of physical delivery for each character type and how they think and feel. I never had a problem following along with who was at the forefront because there was no way for me to get lost. This astounds me because, for all that I love to write, dialogue and distinction are not my strengths. I know many people who find some of these books to drag based on this aspect alone, but I eat it up.
Plus, knowing that I can find a way to relate to the villains really intrigues me. They’re not unachievable, or unrecognizable in the least. They’re regular people who are the outcome of their choices. I love that.
The second connection for me revolves around the dream world Robert Jordan created. He calls it Tel’aran’rhiod. Some of my favorite parts of the books happen in here, and the time and patience that Jordan exhibits to build on this (as well as all other aspects) sucks me in. When I place this fictional story tool side by side with my own real experiences dreaming, I find incredible similarities.
It goes without saying that not everything is translatable or transferable (we are talking about a fictional story, here). The Wheel of Time inspires me with questions, thoughts, experiments, and new avenues to pursue. For that alone, I am thankful.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
This is a new one for me. And when I say new, I’m talking within the last month. I had this book for years sitting on my shelf, and every time I went to pick it up prior, I felt almost disgusted at the thought of reading it. This caught me off guard, to say the least, because I love to read, and I’ve never felt such aversion to a book before.
However, due to such a low life-point the last few months, and while I was working at a call center, I stumbled upon it quite accidentally and had that puzzle piece moment where everything clicked, and it was like, “Yeah. Time to finally read this.” So I took it to work to read between calls, and I finished it in a couple of weeks.
This one book changed my life in incredible ways. As the concept itself is fashioned around omens and finding your “Personal Legend,” I chalk it up to something much more than coincidence or karma that I read it at this particular time in my life.
It wasn’t an accident, and it allowed so many other puzzle pieces to drop that I have a hard time keeping up with it. I’ve had many dreams and spiritual experiences from years ago suddenly come to mind with sections expressing themselves in such clarity and simplicity. I’m humbled, just thinking about it.
The Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. All by various authors.
I’m an extremely religious and spiritual man. I consider those two terms inseparable in at least some fundamental sense. I used to never read the scriptures, not even for the stories. They held no personal value for me though I could always find wisdom or sound advice in their pages if I went looking.
There’s also a lot of confusing hypocrisy, harsh truths and realities, and not-so-clear emphasis on “the points” throughout much of it. I’ve read all of these, cover to cover, front to back, and I don’t remember getting anything from doing that.
However, the turning point for me happened when I decided not to read them as books, but to pay attention to how God’s Spirit worked with me to uncover what was/is essential. What I remember most, or find the most influence in, happens when I’m meditating before I read. Paying attention to where my thoughts and feelings are, and then looking for that soft impression of where to read next is a fun little adventure every time. It sounds crazy, but it works.
My level of overall understanding experienced exponential growth because of this, and I enjoy reading and learning from these books so much more. Because I get to be myself. I ask questions, get objectional, argue points with God, cross-reference to uncover more, parallel with what I’m seeing and hearing on a broad spectrum, etc. They’re more a classroom for me than just some haughty, religious texts.
Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, directed by Zach Helm.
I don’t watch this movie often. Maybe once every couple of years, if that. But, there’s something special about it that is hard to explain to someone who isn’t aware of it.
The simplicity, childishness, honesty, and wisdom it contains is almost beyond description. I find I’m watching this when I can’t get out of my head and I’m spiraling downward. I am Natalie Portman’s character in desperate need of Dustin Hoffman’s brilliant Mr. Magorium.
Mr. Magorium knows that you can’t live life for another person, but that doesn’t mean you leave them alone in it. He’s also the kind of person that isn’t defined by those he helps or associates with; he’s already done the defining and loves who he is through and through. There are no doubts or hesitations in why he is who he is. He loves the rhythm of his life, and those who he brings into it are swept along currents they don’t understand until suddenly the life-switch turns on, and they can see.
This is a movie for honest reflection.
Secondhand Lions, directed by Tim McCanlies.
The story of our two grizzly veterans, and the wide-eyed youth of Haley Joel Osment, make for an impeccable combination. Hub and Garth McCann are two men who face life without asking “Why” and instead smile and act out the “What they’ll do about it” as it’s happening.
Again, two men who know exactly who they are, and those they allow in are swept away in the current. Only, in this story, we get to see two sides of the current: those who are there by invitation, and those who are not and can’t stand the movement.
There’s passion, love, honesty, integrity, patience, discovery, and heart. I always come away from it feeling better than when I went in. Even if I was peachy-keen, to begin with.
E.T. the Extraterrestrial, directed by Steven Spielberg.
This movie terrified me as a kid. I had nightmares for two years before I asked God to take my dreams away, which He actually did. I couldn’t fathom a friendly alien. I didn’t believe it. And at night, my imagination used that against me in terrible fashion.
Fast forward to life as a teenager, and I decided I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I hadn’t had nightmares for a while, and I figured I’d be safe. So one night, I pop in E.T. and give it a watch to discover that I was now on the other side of the fence.
I absolutely love this movie now. The wonder, character arcs, and brilliance of this boy and alien astound me every time I watch it. There’s pure magic found here. And it’s shown me how to look for some of the magic in my life.
Hector and the Search for Happiness, directed by Peter Chelsom.
One big reason I love this movie is that it isn’t some, “I feel like a horrible person, so I’ll go out and travel and find myself and realize that everything I need is at home” flick. Make no mistake, that’s about what happens here in a nutshell.
The significant difference for me resides in how the experiences Hector has on his trip are used for him instead of against him. They aren’t purposed to show him how fulfilled his life already is and then thrown aside. Instead, they add to his already competent knowledge of life and himself and end up showing Hector what kind of man he is and is becoming.
The experiences carry weight and consequence. The emotions gave back to him exactly what he put in, and then some. When he began, he expected it to be what he was already used to. However, humanity cannot actually anticipate what we don’t understand. We simply have to live it.
Where some of these other entries show individuals who already know who they are, Hector and the Search for Happiness gives us what that journey looks like, as well as how to recognize the destination when we find it.
I think I’ll stop there for today, saving Songs and Nature for another blog.