Monday, April 21, 2008

Yesterday I started a new blog on the Internet. It’s about voluntary simplicity like my old one, but more focused. My old one (which I haven’t written on for over year) was about voluntary simplicity in the context of my small quirky town. It was more bounded by concrete, day-to-day reality. My new one doesn’t include the small town aspect, so it can more easily go off into the realm of ideas. I want to be able to explore my vision for a new paradigm and other more ethereal things. I’ll still include practical and grounding entries too--tales of my journey or concrete things I’ve learned from all of my research.

The blog is part of my master plan for building a life as a writer. It’ll be useful in a number of ways. For one, it gets me writing every day (okay, maybe that’s not totally realistic, but it’s something to shoot for). For another, it encourages a more relaxed writing style than what I’ve been able to produce so far in working on my book. I think it will help me find and get comfortable with the right voice. For another, it’ll be an asset when I go looking for a publisher for the book, especially if I can drum up a decent following.
Yesterday I brainstormed a list of blog topics and came up with roughly 90, so I’ve got plenty to say, and the ideas just keep coming.

At some point I might also try to come up with a workbook that I could self-publish and offer through the blog. Of course, that won’t be feasible unless I can create some amount of traffic to the site.

And the blog I think is really going to help me figure out my organizational issues with the book. It still doesn’t feel right. I still struggle with whether to include pieces of my personal story or not, interspersed with the more scholarly stuff. My gut says it will make the book much more engaging, but I haven’t figured out a smooth way to do it.

The blog structure makes it very easy to do just that. One day’s entry can be scholarly, another day’s personal. It can very naturally shift focus and still seem relatively coherent. I think (or hope) that it will offer up some clue on how to organize the book.

Then, lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I’m even writing the wrong book. It may be this book is too ambitious for a first book. Maybe I need to write something that’s almost a self-help book, very practical for the most part. And then later I can write this book. Again, I think the blog is going to help me clarify what the best direction to pursue now would be.

Two nights ago I had an odd little dream. I’m still trying to decipher its meaning. There was a wide dirt path (or a narrow dirt road and this may have been back in time several centuries so there were no cars). It was going straight through a young forest. There was a boy of about eight or nine walking along the path. Along one side of the path ran an embankment. It was like the abandoned railroad grades you see around here. A tangle of young trees and bramble grew on it, creating almost a tunnel-effect on top of it. I was walking along the top of the embankment, following the boy secretly from several paces behind, and partly obscured by the brambles. The boy turned at one point in my direction and I instantly froze to the spot so he wouldn’t notice me, but as I froze I also swiveled my body to look behind me. There on the embankment about ten or fifteen paces behind me was a man, who also was instantly freezing to the spot as the boy turned in our direction.

I recognized the man instantly--it was Father Christmas! But he wasn’t round and jolly and he didn’t wear red suit. Instead, he was tall and lean, with white hair and a white beard. He wore a long robe that was trimmed all around in white fur, but the robe itself was tan, like deerskin (reindeer skin??) or suede. I realized in an instant what should always have been completely obvious (but wasn’t)--Father Christmas is a wizard! He gave a subtle nod to me, with maybe the merest hint of a smile. We were both up to the same thing--stalking the boy.

And that was it, the whole dream. What on earth am I to make of it? I was not working with Father Christmas. I had never seen him before (I don’t think anyone is supposed to see him) and I had no idea he was following right behind me until I turned. Yet we were up to the same thing, and I get the sense that I was up to something rather wizard-ish myself. I was stalking the boy, wishing to evade detection, but I think there was more to it than just freezing to the spot and blending in. I think I was actively, maybe mentally, practicing an invisibility technique. It wasn’t the freezing to the spot alone that prevented the boy from noticing me--there was some technique I was using that made it far less likely he would see me.

Let me add that there was nothing sinister in me stalking the kid. I meant him no harm. I never intended to interact with him at all. It seems more like I was practicing on him.

Where on earth did this dream come from? The only thing reminding me of Christmas in the past few days was a book I read about a family who boycotted all Chinese products for a year. Christmas was very trying since they had small children and virtually all toys are now made in China. The four year old boy started making his list for Santa in August and kept adding and adding to it, and everything he added the mom knew was made in China.

But how did my mind make the leap from our traditional American Santa to a wizard in animal skins stalking a boy? Very unusual! But it sure has a neat, mythic feel to it. It feels like for the first time I’ve gotten a glimpse of the real Santa. And I mean that, too, as ridiculous as it sounds.

Okay, so what could this mean? Am I only able to see the truth about Father Christmas because I’ve transcended the consumer paradigm? We’ve taken this wise, sacred being who I’m convinced has some sort of mythic reality, and dumbed him down, made him into some goofy, jolly, materialistic caricature. Gosh, now I’m going to have to do some research on Father Christmas. (Hey, it might make an interesting blog entry.) Father Christmas was a powerful but benevolent wizard and I was teaching myself to be a wizard too, it seems. His subtle nod showed me he was pleased.

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