Compromise Is Not Always Good

Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” ~ Janis Joplin

“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“If you want to do anything, do it now, without compromise or concession, because you have only one life.” ~ Gao Xingjian

“Tragedy in life normally comes with betrayal and compromise, and trading on your integrity and not having dignity in life. That’s really where failure comes.” ~ Tom Cochrane

I’m going to come right out and say that I’ve decided to support Bernie Sanders for President.

Obviously I’m an extreme liberal. It’s the way I was raised and it’s in my DNA. I’m not telling you that you must be liberal too. The point of this post is to encourage you to examine your values and choose to back the causes, and candidates that are aligned with what you believe and don’t compromise them for any reason.

Until this year, I’ve waited to see who is nominated for president and then choose to vote for the best candidate. You see I hate politics, the wrangling, the negotiations, the compromises, the mud slinging. Ack, it makes me crazy. But last year as the presidential race got into full swing, more than a year before the elections, I had an epiphany. What if I studied all the candidates running and backed the one who reflected my values? Would that make a difference?

Most people will agree that we’ve come to a crossroads in our country. Do we let the wealthiest among us take over and turn our country into something different than the Founding Fathers intended, or do we take back our voice, and our rights? Where we differ is on which presidential candidate will help turn the tide. As I wrote, you have to decide which one you should support. That’s a personal decision that you must make. What I’m advocating is that you examine your values, study the candidates and their platforms, and then choose the one that fits what you believe in rather than just vote for the most popular candidate. I decided this elections season I needed to make my decision earlier than normal, and that’s when I had my epiphany.

At first I backed Hillary, because she’s a woman and I think it’s high time we have a woman president. But as I studied her platform and compared it to Bernie’s, I was faced with a decision. Do I back Hillary because she’s a woman, and because she’s more electable than Bernie is? When I thought of it that way, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t compromise my principles and back a person because she was more electable than an old Jewish man with fly away hair who speaks his truth unabashedly. It’s not that Hillary doesn’t have a plan, but there’s the matter of who is giving her money. Would she feel more obligated to her wealthy contributors than to the welfare of ordinary Americans? On the other hand, Bernie’s money comes from ordinary people not the wealthy. He’s got a solid plan for how to turn this country away from being governed by big corporations. And he’s like me, an ordinary hard working man. When I made the commitment to back Bernie, I let out a big sigh of relief. I’d made a decision that was in alignment with who I am.

All the personal work I’ve been doing in the last year or so has changed me. I don’t want our country to go down the road of any number of dystopian novels and movies that have come out in the last few years. I don’t want corporations to run the world as they do in Cloud Atlas, or to have a wealthy dictator living in a luxurious central city, while people on the outskirts barely have enough to eat like in The Hunger Games. I want a Star Trek kind of society where everyone has an opportunity to live the life of their dreams with no fear of discrimination because of their race, gender, or place of birth. I think Bernie Sanders is working for that that’s why I support him.

My epiphany has more significance than backing a certain candidate for president. I’ve decided that I must make little contributions to the change I want to see, like writing this post, contributing to causes that are working to make life better for the poorest people on the planet. Little by little, I’ll find ways to get involved in making change happen, just like I changed myself a little at a time. That’s how the big changes are made, one little step at a time.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

The Blessing of Patience

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“The longest journey
is the journey inwards.
Of him who has chosen his destiny,
Who has started upon his quest
For the source of his being.” ~ Dag Hammarskjöld

“Imagination is what is there after you know everything; without knowledge, one’s imagination may be too thin – lacking in strength and too fragile to build on.” ~ American director Zelda Fichandler

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” ~ E. L. Doctorow

I’ve discovered this book revision business is not for sissies. It’s a long process of peeling back the layers to get to the real thing I’m trying to say.

Before Christmas, I was very impatient to get the revisions finished during my month long break from teaching. But, of course, my hopes did not come true and in a way that’s a blessing. To tell you the truth I’ve been impatient to finish my novel for a year or more. That was part of the problem with earlier drafts. I rushed through important sections of the story. It’s never good to cheat the reader by not exploring an issue the characters must deal with.

The other day I watched Sense and Sensibility as my personal tribute to actor Alan Rickman who died last week. He’s one of my favorite actors. Part of the reason I love his work is because he never rushed through his lines. In his movies, you always know exactly what he’s saying because he enunciates every word enhancing the emotional emphasis.

After watching the movie, I was reading the trivia on Internet Movie Database. In it Emma Thompson, the screenwriter, stated that she’s a slow writer. It took her three years to finish the screenplay. When I read that, I had to admit I’m a slow writer too. And something about her saying that, allowed me to finally let go of trying to finish my book quickly. I am going to hold it within my being so I can more easily see beneath the surface of where the story is leading me.

Something else helped me decide that working slowly but steadily is a good thing. I watched the movie Proof in preparation for my dramatic structure students watching it tonight. It’s about Catherine, a mathematics genius, who has to put her life on hold to take care of her mentally ill father, Robert, who is a mathematics legend for solving an important proof when he was in his twenties. Catherine and Hal, Robert’s former student, are talking about Hal’s work in mathematics. He’s discouraged and doesn’t think he’ll ever make any significant contribution to the field. Catherine encourages him by saying something like, “You have to chip away at a problem. Sometimes you have to come at it sideways.” That’s what creative people do. They think outside the box.

It’s too bad we live in a fast food society where we demand instant gratification because the invention, the social change, the play, musical piece, or painting all take time. Sometimes many years. Building a healthy business takes lots of work too. Just as changing your life for the better takes a consistent effort and sometimes you have to sneak up on your problems from the side to get the perspective you need to solve them.

I’m not quite sure how I’ll approach my novel from the side. Perhaps being silent and listening to my characters speak to me is the best way to do it. In any case, I’ll keep chipping away at my novel until it tells me it’s finished. I’ll let you know from time to time how it’s coming.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

My Favorite Class to Teach

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

“I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.” ~ Frank Capra

“A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” ~ Stanley Kubrick

“Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.” ~ Barbara Tuchman

“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” ~ Steve Martin

“God made Man because he loves stories.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Last week I wrote about the profound experience I had during meditation on December 31, 2015. One of the things I realized at that time was that I’m a person who says “no” more than I say “yes”. For most of my life I’ve been a fence sitter. Often I want to say “yes” to life, but I allow the not knowing what the future will look like to hold me back. This coming year is about saying “Yes!” to more new things that come my way. I’m going to get off the fence, embrace the unknown and do the things I love to do without apology.

As I was getting ready for this new semester, it occurred to me that when I tell people I teach theatre classes, I often feel like I’m not as good as the instructors who teach the core subjects. Then I remembered that I decided to say “Yes!” to the things I love so I plan to enjoy the classes I’m teaching this semester to the fullest. Tonight I’m going to begin teaching my favorite class of all time. It’s Dramatic Structure. The name is kind of weird, however, what we do is watch plays and movies and analyze them. We try to get through the many layers of meaning to the core ideas the playwright or screen writer is trying to express. I hope this process will be as helpful and enriching to my students as it has been for me.

I learned to love play analysis with my father. When I was in high school, dad and I would stay up late on weekends watching old movies. Then we’d discuss the characters, plots and what the movie meant to us. Our family would also watch the Sunday Night Movie and do the same thing. It was a great way to get to know myself, my family, and to have the skills to interact with the kids at school, or the people I worked with. I loved doing this so much that I found a wonderful purpose in working in the theatre, teaching, and writing. Analyzing plays and movies has helped me become more compassionate and empathetic as well. I’m grateful that my father was willing to watch and discuss movies with me. We got close and had lots of fun too.

So as I begin this new semester, I’m going to tell my students that I love teaching these classes and why. Hopefully that will inspire them in ways that I can’t even imagine.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share this post with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

We All Have Scars

Chapel of the Red Rocks
Chapel of the Red Rocks

“Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities … always see them … for they’re always there.” ~ Norman Vincent Peale

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

After nearly three years of writing this weekly blog, I have to make a confession to you. I get impatient with people who are bonded to their negativity. I don’t often talk about it, or show my irritation outwardly. After all, you can’t change another person’s mind. They have to do that themselves. However, it has been difficult for me to be around people who only see death and destruction when I’ve worked so hard to seek out evidence to the contrary. Just recently I became aware that I’ve felt superior to anyone who’s got a negative outlook, because I can always find the positive side of any situation.

For many years I’ve worked to find the lessons in traumatic situations and difficult circumstances in which I found myself. I’ve made a concerted effort to become more loving and accepting, more peaceful and joyful. I’ve sought ways to heal myself. So when I FELT, during meditation, that I was wearing those terrible events like badges of honor, I had to admit that I was no different than anyone else. It was difficult to acknowledge that I had felt just a little bit superior to people who are stuck in their pain. Believe me, pain is addictive and I have finally admitted that I was an addict too. The good news is that if I can learn such a big lesson and let go of old patterns, so can anyone else who chooses to do so.

As, I’ve written before, this latest self-understanding is the result of a many year process. Last year on January 1, I began studying A Course in Miracles. We bought the book twenty years or more ago, but for some reason, I didn’t feel drawn to study it until last year. Every day I read a lesson and did an exercise. I have to credit the study of this book with helping me shift my thinking about myself. It’s difficult to describe how I felt internally, but it always seemed as if there was a huge barrier between me and what I wanted my life to look like. ACIM helped me begin to dismantle the mental wall I’d built up.

Nothing happens by accident and in November I was introduced to Dr. Joe Dispenza. He’s one of a number of people who are studying the brain. His book, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, uses science to explain how we can cut our ties to old ways of thinking and reacting to external stimuli. He shows the reader a step by step process to form new neural pathways so that we can be free to create a new life. Part of his procedure is to get the reader to face up to the unconscious thought patterns we’ve adopted but which hold us back from the happy life we’d like to live. It was while following his meditation techniques that I was blessed with my profound aha moment.

For many years I’ve known, intellectually, that everyone has scars. You can’t live on this planet without having had some traumatic experiences. During my meditation, however, I FELT the truth of that, and the fact that no one’s trauma is more special than anyone else’s. We often think ours is the most special but that’s not the truth. I certainly thought that. But now I’m ready to just get on with cutting away my old way of being and thinking about what happened to me and see myself in a new way. I’m no longer allowing my past to be a barrier between me and the life I’ve always wanted to live.

This is a new beginning for me so I’ll have lots of self-examination to do over these next months. However, I have to say, for the first time in my entire life, I feel free to be the real me. It’s a wonderful feeling and I hope that you can feel that way too one day.

This is my dream for all of us, that one day we will live in a world where, when a baby is born, they automatically know they can create the life of their dreams without going through such terrible life lessons. I know there will still be challenges but I hope that future generations will begin with a more positive mind set. I hope they come into this world understanding human behavior and know how to forgive without allowing the trauma to stick to them like superglue. It may take a long time before we get to that place but I still dream of a world like that.

I hope you have a wonderful year of new discoveries and adventures. I plan on having a few.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with friends.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016