I wrote this poem after a training spell at an end-of-the-road psychiatric hospital; it was an interesting experience.
Max had been there for years. On the way home from his bucks’ night, his motorbike hit a low-loader at speed and he lost one foot, the sight in one eye and enough of his brain to place him in care for the rest of his life. He lost his future bride and his friends. He was in his 50s when I met him. Max proposed to the nurses several times a day; most of us were alright with that. Max sometimes knew how sad his life was and at those times he would cry; then he’d touch his tears and look at them, wondering what they were. One particular song triggered this reaction more than anything else – Elvis Presley’s ‘Edge of Reality’.
Max talked to me the other day (a wild man in his time)
I said “You’re gorgeous, Max, but I’m not here to stay.”
He said I was a wide-eyed girl and did I know what that means?
He grinned and said for the seventh time “The Edge of Reality!
Why won’t you marry me?”
Then Julette snapped “Oh shut up, Max! I need to do my charts!
Just shut up Max, just leave the girl alone!”
She didn’t even look at him, and he stared at the floor,
and when I searched to share his pain he was standing at the door.
He smiled and gave his ‘thumbs up’ sign and I did the same;
Max went; Julette worked on her charts; for her a silence reigned.
And next day Max was back again – he sat down over there –
“Pretty Woman, tell me why I have no scars, and why I feel no pain?”
I said, “Max, ask The Man Upstairs, when you meet one day.”
He said he would.
Then someone played an LP of the King.
We all heard Elvis sing: ‘The Edge of Reality’
and I looked across to see Mad Max
in his chair.
What if acts of cooperation replaced the activities of competition?
What if the world, in all its doings, focused on good and not on evil?
What if all people everywhere wanted the very best for others in all things?
What if all leaders had integrity, honesty, compassion, intelligence and wisdom?
What if governments were made up only of people who understood good government?
What if land use was sustainable, restorative and productive rather than greed-oriented?
What if philosophy did not reject what it does not understand but sought understanding?
What if industry was socially focused rather than politically or economically engineered?
What if education was fact-based, not constructed on intellectualism or social engineering?
What if Christianity was based on its Bible instead of on syncretised, compromised beliefs?
What if all peoples were able to develop their full potential without multicultural melding?
What if the Arts were truly creative, explorative and inspiring before any other interests?
What if the natural world was seen as a partner to mankind’s world, not as an enemy?
What if science was not compromised by military demands or selective funding?
What if resources were used resourcefully instead of as a limitless larder?
What if all sports, games and entertainment promoted goodwill?
What if neither wealth nor poverty were by-products of avarice?
What if ethical leadership was important but celebrity was not?
What if thinking became more fashionable than peer pressure?
Makeshift solutions can be adequate but excellence inspires real creativity.
Excellence does not necessarily require costly or impossibly clever resources. Watching creative solutions to problems in poor countries can be educational. For instance, a large truck must be transported across a lake. The truck is too wide and heavy for any available barge. The makeshift solution is to drive the truck onto two barges, which carry it, side-by-side, across the water. A better solution, requiring creative common sense, would be to securely connect the two barges, using stable materials, before loading the truck. (Happily, truck and barges made the journey without mishap.)
I enjoy watching the movie-making process documentaries found on fantasy and sci-fi dvds, especially ‘Avatar’ (James Cameron) or ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ (Peter Jackson); in pursuing excellence the movie makers sought the best of the best, whether in exploring technical development or creating detailed sets, costumes and lifestyles – excellence that has paid for itself many times over. (Weta Workshop and Weta Digital were used by both directors; I highly recommend visiting the Weta website, or better still, Weta Cave in Miramar and Hobbiton, near Matamata, NZ, for a huge injection of excellence in creative thinking.)
Perfection demands a mastery of detail. ‘Making do’ works as a temporary, emergency fix in limited circumstances but is never a long-term solution; for real credibility, in movies, art, writing or any other endeavour, truth is in the details – and so is credibility. When detail is swept aside, any relationship to reality goes with it.
Story-tellers of fantasy must build a complete and believable world for their characters. Relying on what we know from our daily lives is insufficient for other-worldly experiences. With creativity comes consistency; fantasy worlds have to make sense; fantasy cultures must be believable; fantasy creations must work, not just ‘look good’; both terms and time-lines have to mesh. This requires attention to details even when no one else cares.
Consider the natural creation in all its glorious, infinite detail! A tree has thousands of leaves, all with the same function, yet none are identical. Describing a forest, for example, involves not just seeing trees but experiencing their scents, sounds and taste, their textures and temperature and colours, their relationship to time and latitude, all their moods and niche environments, and how they responds to weather or fire or flood or the lives they shelter or even the nature of those who merely pass through them.
What we imagine is triggered by what we already know; what we create expands on that, sometimes exponentially, and steps off the trail of normality into the vast unknown; and therein, my friends, lies excellence.Excellence-Inspired Fantasy
A thesaurus tells us that it’s ‘imagination, creativity, fancy, invention, originality, vision, speculation, make-believe, daydreaming, reverie’. It tells us that its antonyms are ‘truth and realism’.
While fantasy may not be realism as we know it, it often relates deeper truths than those we see in day-to-day life, and its realism is of the heart rather than the eyes; the thesaurus’ antonyms, quoted above, are superficial and inadequate; better antonyms would be ‘unimaginative and ordinary’.
Fantasy was once considered to be a subset of science fiction – myth, legend, fable, fairy tale; sword and sorcery; escapism – for a long time but has since become a genre in its own right. Sci-fi and fantasy may be blended or they can stand alone. Fantasy lends itself more easily to spiritual considerations and sci-fi to technological ideas but the two can be readily combined.
I enjoy colouring in detailed drawings while listening to talks, the more complex, the better; it helps me concentrate. I’ve just completed one of fantastic balloons (viewable on the LynMiller page on Facebook).
Imagine the stories you could build around these wonderful creations! How much more truth could you weave into such tales than is possible from a picture of ‘real’ balloons; whatever adventures you could relate about real balloons could easily be incorporated into a story of fantasy balloons – with much more depth and height and breadth of creativity and thoughtfulness!
Never dismiss fantasy works as merely child’s play. Imagination is the genesis of creation. And creation begets reality.
It’s been a long time since I posted anything, so this is just a short, quick catch-up. I moved house. I have begun growing a small forest. I had two short stints in hospital for obs and an op. I visited the NSW Sapphire Coast – beautiful as always. I’ve also been writing; I’m busy on Book7 and am planning to work on publishing the entire series when that is done. Book7 is going to be a longer story than Book6 was. BTW future art by Mavis Stucci will now be authored as ‘Mavis’; she’s dropped that surname for good. And I will endeavour to get back to writing posts more regularly. Cheers, all!
Should journalists report news or create it? Lies and deception have been the tools of manipulation throughout human history but news media in the United States, particularly during the 2016 presidential election campaign and its aftermath, have exacerbated and highlighted this deceptive practice. Truth requires integrity, credibility, faith and a good reputation in those who exercise it; lies come only by dishonesty, disbelief, distrust and mockery.
So why is ‘fake news’ so prevalent today? It may, temporarily, increase sales of newspapers and give greater exposure to celebrities but when the truth comes out, as truth invariably does, when fake credibility is destroyed, so sales decrease and celebrities exchange fame for infamy and all their opinions are regarded as suspect. What possible advantage is there in that?
We see the same spirit at work in relationships – in the cowardly culture of bullying, in the slyness of gossip, in the bigotry of racial and social activism, in the policking of governments and in the duplicity of those who lay claim to righteousness but whose actual works expose their hypocrisy.
In this world many consider it wise to take the advantage wherever, whenever and however it presents itself. They use, for example, political correctness to give themselves an advantage in western nations, where it is demanded, even with violence; PC is certainly political but rarely correct. Too many have accepted its categorisation of both people and events; myopic analysts, its adherents look only at what they want to see and ignore the bigger picture; they cannot see the forest for the trees. The world does not work like that.
To fight fake news, et al, we must personally reject the thinking and the actions involved and become an active resistance, being real in all our works. When we find something fake on social media – even if we’ve fallen for it ourselves – we must expose it. Look after one another’s best interests and refuse to forward not only false information but anything that hurts or condemns another, particularly when such accusation is without proof or reason.
Cyber bullying comes to mind. Too many young people are so easily deceived: don’t follow the crowd, the fad, the peer pressure. Be leaders! Stand up for the weak; in the case of bullying, don’t simply delete spurious posts but unfriend the unfriendly – or one day you will be their victim; and on the face-to-face front, don’t just mourn for the bullied suicides – help them before it gets to that. You know when somebody’s afraid, when a gang of cowards is targeting the vunerable! Step in and help; be a hero. You may save someone who will be great one day, someone who will never forget your grace – while the bullies will disappear into disrepute if they won’t change.
Always treat your mind with the utmost respect. Remember GIGO? Garbage in, garbage out. You don’t hear that acronym much anymore because it doesn’t fit the modus operandi of the manipulators – the fake, the innumerable fake, who phish and promote spam and infect with viruses, who lie and scam and gossip and publish fake news.
Sophie Scholl and her brother, Hans, were executed by the Nazis in 1943 for their rebellion against the state. They killed no one; they said what others less brave would only allow themselves to think, whispering their fears to one another in safe, dark places but never changing anything. Read their story. Sophie and the White Rose group are remembered with honour, but their killers are not. And God will resurrect them for all the world to see and know. Sophie understood this.
She said, about her life:
“I know that life is a doorway to eternity, and yet my heart so often gets lost in petty anxieties. It forgets the great way home that lies before it.”
She said, about her work:
“Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.”
And she encouraged us all to:
“Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone.”
I thought it was just the verbal effluvia surrounding the ugly political campaigning in the USA over the past year but it was more than that. It’s a spiritual broadcast that’s been around throughout all echelons and all history of human relationships. It’s been around for aeons but has suddenly grown more contagious, as if breeding a greater anger, an even more intense hatred of mankind and the whole earth, a lust for loathing that will not be quenched and can never be satisfied.
It often expresses itself in accusations based on nothing more than personal opinion, hearsay or ‘just a feeling’ – especially against those who are happy and those who are too sensitive to ignore the self-righteous or dismiss the judgemental. Those who fall prey to being conduits for the broadcaster of evil thoughts and moods and desires need to ask themselves, “What spirit is that?” and to realise that they are taking on a role that is not theirs when making judgements of condemnation or indulging in gossip and making ignorant accusations that damage relationships, especially with friends and family. Social media has many examples of this ugliness. Many of you will have been victims; some may be perpetrators. Only God knows what is in the heart of anyone. And gossip began with the Adversary.
Who can fully trust friends who succumb to that destructive spirit, who justify their attacks by setting themselves up as some sort of moral standard, or excuse their bad behaviour by blaming others, or traumatic events in the past? We may forgive them but what trust remains disintegrates more each time they repeat their offence. It’s no good blaming the devil; he doesn’t care.
We must always reject that spirit when he pokes a filthy finger into our minds. We must recognise that we do not have the right to condemn anyone – that is God’s responsibility alone and he does not look favourably on those who are presumptuous enough to set themselves up in his place.
For now, rulership of the earth is under the perpetrator of all evil, the ‘god of this age’. “Why?” you ask; it is to see who God can trust to work with him in the next age. Simple as that. It’s not ‘heaven or hell’, it’s not jihad or karma or valhala any other concept of spiritual reasoning – nor any intellectual reasoning, either. But spiritual evil will grow worse and worse until this age is over, so be careful in your words, and be even more careful in your thoughts. Do not destroy the love of your family and friends by giving in to the insidious evil of gossip and accusation, of poison and hatred. Retaliation in kind makes you just as guilty. Resist the enemy. We are at war.
Some trials in life seem beyond both belief and solution; no way can be found around the impasse and all help is futile, all government assistance becomes entangled in bureaucratic guidelines and any legal standing is compromised by assessments that are themselves open to challenge. Incompetence, ignorance, opposing directives and the conflicts between the ‘interested parties’ turn a mere web of intrigue into a tangled mess that seems impossible to sort out.
But who keeps that tangled ball from unravelling?
One who is so intent on self-interest that no vestige of morality or goodwill is allowed to interfere in the pursuit of that individual’s greed or lust; it is an exercise in evil being promoted by the instigator as virtue.
And what are the hooks and barbs that knot the mess together?
Despite claims of caring and altruism, all such conflict arises from lies and manipulation.
So, how does this evil succeed in its work?
It works when foolishness replaces commonsense, when one liar is supported by another and when authorities do not work together to truly assess the realities of a situation nor provide solutions that cannot be subverted. It works when victims give way to anger or despair or simply give up. It works when the centre of the conflict, not necessarily being the instigator, is compliant to the machinations of the devious party and does not consider reality as relevant. It happens when the decision-maker rejects truth in favour of a more convenient lie.
Then when does good overcome evil?
Sometimes the fact is that it doesn’t, at least not immediately. Sometimes good results come in the form of a good judge. Sometimes a catastrophe intervenes and suddenly every card is on the table and order is finally achieved. And sometimes, the injured party simply has to walk away, preserving its integrity and sanity, leaving the liars to drown in the foul swamp of their own making. But know this also: with dogged perseverance and good counsel, even a seemingly impossible trial can be overcome – and this, too, is a fact.
Where can one go for help at such times?
Find help that is trustworthy. Search for answers, for solutions. Panic, fury, worry and helplessness are not going to achieve anything; put your energy into efforts that will produce good results. Don’t waste time with things of momentary satisfaction, like futile argument, reacting to provocation or plotting revenge; be proactive and productive and let every move focus on the desired outcome rather than short-term retaliations.
But why do things escalate to such extremes before being dealt with?
Good people tend to give others ‘the benefit of the doubt’ and wait for goodwill to assert itself whereas evil peole don’t waste time on such niceties – they work relentlessly to undermine, saboutage, infiltrate and betray their opponents. They destroy relationships. They dominate or confuse meetings. They lie without blushing. Their desire for gain overrides all ethical considerations and they do whatever it takes to gain that desire. Good people need to hate evil; too often they don’t – they tolerate it and, in the end, it devours them.
Learn to recognise evil motives, evil tactics, evil people – and then conquer them. Take away their power over you – the power that triggers anger, or a need for retaliation, or justification desperation, or anything that ‘grinds your gears’. Learn to discern the difference between image and reality and give no ground to falseness. Learn to assess all things by seeing their fruits, not the basket they’re held in. Learn wisdom.