Thursday, April 25, 2013

What if you woke up one day and found that everything that you had previously believed was a lie

I saw this discussion on a linkedin group. Someone came up with this hypothetical question when she “witnessed the breakdown of communication between people who are passionately attached to their beliefs.” I couldn't read the entire thread which literally had thousands of comments. Some said that this paradigm shift would be the best thing that ever happened to them. Others said it would be depressing or horrifying. Some made references to “The Matrix” and other science fiction stories. However, a few people, including myself admitted that this is not a far fetched scenario. This happens all the time. In fact, it happened to most of the characters in my latest novel.

When I first started writing this story, I was a playwright and asked myself the question of how a cult leader can convince someone to kill themselves. The idea that someone can control your mind so well that you would override the basic instinct of survival just to obey him was unfathomable, yet it has happened so many times in history, and relatively recently with the news of the Order of the Solar Temple’s suicides (this news was recent when I started writing this story). I started writing this play as I researched the topic of cults and brainwashing. As I did this, I came across some remarkable stories and realized there was so much more than brainwashing going on.

As I researched the psychology of brainwashing, I learned that while some people may believe a lie wholeheartedly, others may have doubts but will stay in an organization because that is there home. They may not agree with their authority figures but will still obey them due to loyalty to their tribe. And, as someone mentioned in her linkedin thread, some people wake up one day and realize that everything they believed is a lie. This doesn't mean they will leave. This doesn't mean they will stay. This is an earth shattering revelation because it might mean that everything they gave their life too no longer exists. When I started writing this story as a play, I explored brainwashing. When I explored it as a novel, I examined the different ways people respond when they realize that all they had previously believed was a lie.

When this happens, some fall into depression, maybe even suicide. Others escape, change their lives or turn over a new leaf. Some will deny the truth to the bitter end and live in denial. Some will passionately fight the truth and will enact revenge on those who took away their fantasy. We've seen all of these things happen throughout the dawn of history and no matter how many times we witness seeing what happens when the beliefs of people clash, we are still dismayed and saddened by the results.

In my small, intimate story, I explore all of these things. Through the lives of these different but very real characters, I created scenarios that challenge our own sense of judgment. This book took a lot of courage for me to write and release to the public. I suspect (as pointed out by my first reviewer) that it will take a lot of courage to read but if you ask yourself these same questions and you have a passion for psychology, relationships and adventure, please check it out. Maybe you will find all of your former beliefs of what a novel should be, challenged to the extreme.

Enlightened Ones is now available on Amazon on kindle or ebook format. It will be out in paperback edition very shortly:
Purchase Enlightened Ones here

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Life Affirming Seven Year Cycle

According to Deepak Chopra’s book, “Quantum Health,” we are not the same person we were seven years ago. After seven years, every single cell in our body has completely regenerated. We are simply a clone of who we used to be and every part of us, including our brain, is completely brand new.

So I started looking back at each seven year cycle of my life and wrote down my random thoughts.

When I was seven, I reached what the Catholics called the age of awareness, the age where we can actually sin because we gain awareness of our own actions. I remember my father telling me he would stop throwing birthday parties for me because I had reached maturity and didn’t need them anymore. It is true that I gained great awareness between the ages of 7-14. I attended four different schools and lived in two different countries, all the while comparing each experience with one of the past and seeing how all people are different and how they are all the same.

When I was fourteen, teenage rebellion hit and I realized that my father’s choice to stop throwing me birthday parties had nothing to do with me coming of age but more to do with the fact that he’s lazy. I mean jeez, I was only seven!

Fourteen was the start of my goth period which lasted throughout my seven year cycle. I wasn’t goth on the outside. I could care less for my outside appearance, despite my mother’s fight to get me to wear decent clothes. I must admit my disinterest for material things left no room for fashion. I was definitely goth on the inside. I started reading gothic texts like John Donne and Alister Crowly and William Shakespeare. I threw myself into the existential absurdity of Sam Beckett as I tried to make sense of the absurdity of my own life.

Strangely enough, it was also the cycle of boys. Looking back, I still don’t understand how a young girl who had no fashion sense and always had her head in a book managed to attract so much attention from the opposite sex, but I guess I can chalk it all up to hormones. Also chalk it up to the fact that I got really athletic at this age, which is good because energy is often wasted on the youth and if I didn’t have books and athletics, I’d probably have been in a lot of trouble despite my strict upbringing.

My goth period came to a close at the age of 21, the start of a brand new seven year cycle. I was so ready for change that I left everything I knew and love and moved to the other side of the country. I left behind all my mystical, psychic and witchcraft books to witness the gritty world of art in New York City. Who needed metaphysics when you had art? I also got a tattoo which turned out to be permanent despite the fact that our body regenerates every seven years. Shrug.

This seven year cycle would be all about action. I took my head out of the books to actually do things and make something of myself. I didn’t just read and write, I acted and produced plays. I worked with directors and actors. I stopped playing the field and got married. I had a baby and moved back to Los Angeles to be a mom. I was so many people during this period, you couldn’t pigeon hole me if you tried. Guess I was learning to be a strong, modern woman.

At the age of 28, I reinvented myself. I became certified in fitness and personal training. I became a working mom who could balance the husband, home, children and a job that she loved. Ugh, now that I think of it, I sound like some kind of stereotype of someone with a perfect life but things always look better from the outside. It was a struggle in many ways, financially and relationship-wise. I never lost my love of writing and managed to work on making one of my old plays into a novel which I plan to release this month.

35 marked the start of a new cycle. Strangely enough, that was the year I published my first book, “Fireflies.” I split myself into three people. One is in charge of her business, one writes and publishes books and one is a devoted mother and wife. Strange how I somehow figured out to be everything I want to be and I’m finally publishing a book I’ve been working on for 13 years, while going through life. I’m still in this cycle and if you know what year I published “Fireflies,” you could probably guess my age.

There is so much potential in this cycle. I realize that after the end of every seven year cycle, I look back and am amazed at what I have done and how I have grown. Chopra said that when you have cancer, its never the same cancer because the cells die and reproduce. It’s our memory of cancer that keeps it there. Cancer is just a bad habit. If we don’t heal, if we can’t change, its because we refuse too. We are addicted to a blue print that is nothing but a memory. We attach ourselves to these memories long after the structures have been broken down. I guess it helps that I’m in a cycle of great awareness. I know I can change how I think. I don’t have to stay glued to a little girl who is no longer there. Chopra says there is a world of infinite possibilities out there. What happens next? Sky’s the limit.