Thank You Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird book cover
To Kill A Mockingbird book cover

“Success should always call for showing greater kindness, generosity and justice; only people lost in the darkness treat it as an occasion for greater greed.” ~ Cyrus the Great

“Words, in my humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” ~ Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Harper Lee

As most of you know, Harper Lee died this past week. Until last year, her reputation as a world class author rested on one book, To Kill A Mockingbird. I haven’t yet read her latest book, Go Set A Watchman, its on order, but if I rely on the description, it rounds out the maturation of the character of Scout. She learns some things that change her perspective of her childhood, her life and her community. To me that’s what life is all about, learning and growing, accepting the good and the bad without judgment.

In my estimation, having even one book so widely read and acclaimed is quite an accomplishment. Harper Lee’s book lays open the human condition for us to examine. She, like all authors, allows us to climb into the skin of the characters and walk around in them for awhile. Most of us don’t get to make that large an impact on the world, but that doesn’t matter. As another famous author, George Eliot, wrote of her main character Dorothea Ladislaw in the final passage of her book Middlemarch, “Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Each person touches so many other lives. We’re often carelessly wrapped up in our problems that we act in ways that we might not choose if we were thinking clearly. We forget that we have an effect on those around us. Perhaps that’s all part of our drive toward learning as well. For making mistakes with dire consequences can wake us up and cause us to be more conscious from then on. Every interaction plants seeds. Seeds of thought, seeds of emotions, seeds for good or ill.

Often as I’m sitting at the computer writing, I wonder if what I’m writing will touch anyone’s heart and I think of all the writers throughout the ages, known and unknown who recorded their experiences because they had to, because something inside called out to be expressed. For one reason or another, some work is never discovered and read. However, I like to think that nothing is ever lost and what those authors wrote is out there in the ethers somewhere and we are affected by the insights they expressed.

That’s why I write. I know that I may never be a famous world class writer like Harper Lee, but if I learn something vital about what it means to be human from my experience of writing, then I’ve lived faithfully. My hidden life as a writer will add something to the whole of humanity in some mysterious way and that is enough.

I am grateful that Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. She helped so many people on levels seen and unseen. I’m equally grateful that many other writers dare to expose their deepest insights so the rest of us can examine ourselves at a safe distance. What we read doubles our chances for growth as a human race.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

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Feminist Traitors?

Working Mom
Working Mom

“Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines.” ~ Paul Brunton

“There’s just as many different kinds of feminism as there are women in the world.” ~ Kathleen Hanna

“My feminism is humanism, with the weakest being those who I represent, and that includes many beings and lifeforms, including some men.” ~ Sandra Cisneros

I came home from teaching on, 2/11/16, and my husband was watching the pundits dissect the Democratic debate. I sat and listened for a while, and then was shocked when they mentioned the disparaging comments by Gloria Steinem and Madeline Albright chastising young women who don’t support Hillary. I’m a Baby Boomer who doesn’t support Hillary, at least right now, and I was disturbed. I had to go listen to what they said but had to stop listening when Madeleine Albright said, “Just remember, there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” All night I dreamed about this situation and the next morning I sat down to write the post for this week. Needless to say it was filled with angry retorts. When I calmed down, I realized that true feminism isn’t about yelling and calling each other names. It’s not about coercion, or emotional blackmail.

Even though I was extremely disappointed that two such outstanding members of the feminist movement had lost sight of what it is women have been fighting for, I had to allow them the benefit of the doubt. We learn from our mistakes and maybe given the negative reaction to their statements, they’ve learned something. In any case, they are entitled to their opinions.

To me, feminism is all about empowering women to make their own choices, on any issue they face. Gloria Steinem has even said, “After feminism, I suddenly realized (sic): not everyone has to live the same way. Imagine that!” They don’t have to think the same way, or even vote the same way either.

Fortunately, Hillary stated during the debate that she thought women should be able to choose any candidate, even if it wasn’t her. I liked that and I will definitely vote for her if she gets the nomination. But for now, Bernie’s plans and policies are more in line with the changes I want to see happen in this country. Because I support a man, doesn’t mean I’m not a feminist. I guess what it means is that I’m a humanist. I’m for the advancement and enlightenment of all humanity.

Often when I write these posts I feel like I’m a broken record writing about how we’re all in this together and we should be working on ourselves so that all of humanity can expand. Today I have to confess that many times I’m trying to get you, my readers, to see things my way and act accordingly. That’s not ethical. We all have an inner journey that is ours alone. No one should interfere with that. So, I’ll continue to share my thoughts. If they touch you and spur your thinking, great. If not, that’s great too.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Restless Anticipation

Tarantula Nebula
Tarantula Nebula

“I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.” ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“There are times when a feeling of expectancy comes to me, as if something is there, beneath the surface of my understanding, waiting for me to grasp it … Oh, something is there, waiting for me. Perhaps someday the revelation will burst in upon me and I will see the other side of this monumental grotesque joke. And then I’ll laugh. And then I’ll know what life is.” ~ Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“Dreams and restless thoughts came flowing to him from the river, from the twinkling stars at night, from the sun’s melting rays. Dreams and a restlessness of the soul came to him.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

“Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

Twenty years ago my husband and I sold our house and took a three month trip around the world. Some people thought we were crazy, mostly family members. But most people admired our daring and supported us. I will never regret taking that trip. It changed me in ways that are still hard to define and as the anniversary of leaving the country approaches, I’m hungry for a bold new adventure.

I’m not sure what has caused my restlessness now after so many years of living in a kind of cocoon. Maybe it’s because last year I dedicated myself to doing some intense personal work. Because of that work, I’m a new person and see the world in new ways. Whatever the reason it feels like it’s time for a change but I’m not sure what form it will take yet. All I know is that I feel great anticipation like I did when Barry and I decided to do whatever it to took to take the trip.

A couple of weeks ago something extraordinary happened during one of my meditations. I saw myself swimming and playing with whales and dolphins. They were singing to me and I understood their song. They were telling me that I needed to embrace play and I need to allow all the great things the universe has to offer to come to me. When that happened it was like the whales and dolphins accepted me as one of them and they gave me the key to a door that I’d locked long ago. I opened that door and my inner landscape hasn’t been the same since. When that happened, I wanted to say “Yes!” to all kinds of new things.

Almost as soon as I thought about something I’d like to try, an opportunity came to me. I love watching and talking about movies and a few days after my meditation experience, I was invited by Turner Classic Movies to be a member of their Inner Circle, to make suggestions on programing and the like. What could be more fun? Then I found an opportunity to submit a story or essay about identity for publication in a yearly journal. I also got an invitation to submit a short story to a contest. The prize is a trip to Greece, one of my favorite places on earth. I’m going to say yes to those opportunities. My work may be rejected. I don’t care. I want to stretch myself and try something new.

Those opportunities, though small, have sparked my desire to again experience new places. Barry and I have dreamed of living in New Mexico for quite some time but we thought making the move impossible, until recently. Being open to possibilities is often all that’s needed to experiences something new and wonderful. In any case Barry and I have started creating new dreams and that in itself is a welcome adventure. Creating new dreams keeps us young.

Who knows where these explorations will lead, but it’s so nice to be in a state of restless anticipation again. In my estimation living in the status quo is boring. That’s why I’m always looking for the next new thing to stimulate my desire to keep expanding.

I’ll keep you posted on any new and exciting things that come my way.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Woes and Rewards of Writing

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“Honesty is your innate ability to stand completely exposed, allowing the world to do what it may and say what it will so that you may know who you are beyond the realm of ideas.” ~ Matt Kahn, Whatever Arises, Love That.

“When I run after what I think I want,
my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety;
if I sit in my own place of patience,
what I need flows to me, and without pain.
From this I understand that what I want also wants me,
is looking for me and attracting me.
There is a great secret here
for anyone who can grasp it.” ~ Rumi

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way,
that some poems don’t rhyme,
and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end …
Life is about not knowing,
having to change,
taking the moment and making the best of it,
without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity …” ~ Gilda Lee Radner

“Do not compromise your artistic principles, ever. Know who you are and know how you got there. And choose your associates wisely. The ones who believe in you will stay by your side through thick and thin. The rest will disappear and you must allow them to disappear. Please yourself first. Be your own worst critic. Dive fearlessly into your own soul. Everything else is minutia. ~ Terry Green

In Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows part 2, Dumbledore says that “Words, in my most humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I agree with him, or rather Steve Kloves who wrote the screenplay. But sometimes finding the right words to express the inner experience is difficult. I’ve been struggling with that as I continue the seemingly endless revisions to my first novel, The Space Between Time.

Part of the difficulty I’m having has to do with the fact that I’ve come to a peaceful place in my life and I find that it’s difficult to remember all the pain and suffering that brought me here. But conflict is the heart of story and if my two main characters are a reflection of my own life’s journey, then I’ve got to put them through the same kind of life shattering situations I experienced. My characters have to make mistakes and the wrong assumptions, they have to struggle to grow and improve their lives just like I’ve had to do. If I don’t write them this way, they won’t be well rounded characters.

At first I resisted going back and digging up my past. Who wants to live their own dark times? I wanted my characters to be happy enlightened people. But my book was boring and didn’t reflect real life. Something interesting has happened as I’ve worked to remember. I’ve discovered that issues I thought were healed long ago, still have rough edges that prick and hurt. Writing and working on myself are like a dance. Sometimes my toes get stepped on, but that wakes me up to the next round of healing I need to do, which in turn helps me make the situations in my book more realistic.

There are times when I feel very vulnerable and exposed by what I’ve written. It can be such an uncomfortable place in which to be. Yet creativity is impossible if we’re not open to uncertainty. Ah, delicious ambiguity! That’s where the possibilities lie. Writing reveals the heart of the writer and exposes it to the world. Artists know that none of us can move forward, we can’t have that happy life we long for without becoming vulnerable. When we embrace uncertainty, possibilities open up for us. That’s what my characters are teaching me. I hope doing all this self-examination is helping to improve my book. I guess we’ll see.

Ah, well, back to revising and peeling back the layers.

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

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016