Broke and happy … please help the story to spiral out to readers … available worldwide.
Broke and happy … please help the story to spiral out to readers … available worldwide.
An apple doesn’t drop by itself before it’s ripe. And unless fate delivers us a hard blow natural ripeness applies equally to experience. Experts are quick to tell us, or we tell ourselves, to let go of whatever – an attachment, a fear, a grievance, an addiction, a desire, melancholy, sadness, the ego, and so on, while we are enmeshed with our life and its phenomena. The best chance of ripening towards a possible potential lies in keeping one’s balance on the tightrope of contradictions, that is, the fine line between the particle state and the wave state – as in Blake’s ‘Kiss the joy while flies.’
Natural letting go happens every second. We breathe, well, we are breathed, though we mainly notice when the rhythm of our breath is disrupted – through pain, exhaustion, anger, anxiety, anger or sheer exasperation, when anyone uttering, ‘Calm down,’ deserves a punch.
(Thanks Joe Linker for the great doodle)
Emotional balance wavers from day to day, but when self-blame knots up our muscles it makes sense to focus on the body. There are plenty of ways to relax: exercise, sex, music, singing, mantras, doodling, magnesium, weed, pills, wine … or to imagine brilliant light circling through the breath, like the basic drone of a reed harmonium or a tanpura holding up multiple sounds. Everything in nature has an essential frequency, which tends to flush out what obstructs its flow, even if it takes earthquakes, storms and floods. To right imbalances of the planet is beyond individuals, we can however bring a clear intention towards balancing our body’s frequency. Try this:
Inhale through your nose – draw brilliant light from head the chest – counting to 7
Exhale through your mouth – let the light flow to your feet and out – counting to 11
Imagine the out breath taking along the tensions held in your muscles. A few rounds of this ritual should calm the heartbeat for a while. Being in resonance with your body draws the shy soul closer, bringing a sense of oneness – satiating our thirst for belonging. And it makes us aware that beauty is not in things, but in the soul of things, even the tiniest thing has soul.
However, a constant sense of oneness is not what evolution is about. In a time and space structured cosmos we cannot cage harmony. Reality is the result of contradiction.
Our struggle for balance can be intense. But each of us has the chance to live with zest, inspired by the earth spirit and its dark power for spontaneous creation born of sadness and pain. Garcia Frederico-Lorca talked about art being inspired in three ways: by muses of the past, angelic visons of the future, and by duende – inspiration of the present. Duende springs from the core of one’s being in direct confrontation with death. You can read Lorca’s remarkable speech here: ‘Theory and Play of the Duende.’
… You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves … from – Mary Oliver, ‘Wild Geese’
At times, our inner landscapes allow for communing with nature’s elements. Ana has this knack in Course of Mirrors. As long as she remembers to calm her heart, she senses invisible presences, the timeless spirit within things – telling her that nothing dies, only reforms. She also picks up thoughts forms from uncluttered minds, and some animals talk to her.
Aspects of my protagonist’s receptive traits are based on my own experiences, expressed in a poem I composed during the 1970s. The poem, as such, does not feature in the novel but I like to share it here, with minor tweaks insisted upon by my inner editor.
you swallow my hand
giving way with fluid grace
to this dream of flesh and bone
yet as I recall the form
you allow me to retrieve it
circling round and round
spun by the mesh of time
I see your whirling
and sense my turning too
in its mystic trance
you slither in the spine of waves
and lay a track of fate in sands
entranced I follow
to your cave and become
this rushing in the dark
your rising pitch one vow
winging yonder blue
towards the break of dawn
above the silver winding stream
your passing leaves no mark
by the blink of eye you sink
to my core as glowing cipher
allowing for your lush
and fragrant state
to unfurl from the heart
your white breath burns clean
dark corners in my mind
without a moment’s pause
you blow apart
all apparitions of my art
Update: My first novel can be found on Troubador, on international Amazon sites and Waterstones via searching for the title, Course of Mirrors, or my name, Ashen Venema. The e-book is now available. The paperback will be released on 28th of April and can be pre-ordered.
Paperbacks ordered within the UK will come from a stock of copies held by Troubador who distribute via Orca Book Services. Orders from abroad will be print-on-demand- copies, saving expensive postage.
If you enjoy writing reviews, they are easy to post on Troubador. On Amazon sites one has to log in as a customer, and a review entry only appears on the site of the country where it is entered, be it uk, de, fr, com … and so on. With a little effort reviews can be pasted into more than one Amazon site.
When I enter the room Dot is absorbed in reading from a folder among stacks of papers stored in drawers under a bed. ‘Hey,’ she looks up, ‘this is fascinating. It’s got your name on it.’
We were clearing the main house of a workshop venue near London, a magical place I had been associated with for 30 years and which I facilitated during the winding down period of its operation, dealing with the grief of an international community, as well as managing group bookings for the remaining few months, before the estate was sold.
The folder Dot had discovered contained the beginning of a story I had drafted … and then lost. For two action-filled decades my protagonist had lingered patiently in a corner of my mind. On that momentous spring day of clearing Ana emerged from her hibernation.
Resembling the experience of my own myth, Ana is called to her adventure by a kind of celestial twin, an agent between past and future, between dense and subtle realms.
The novel was completed five years on, much encouraged by E. Zohra Sharp, who offered her generous editing support. I also shared some chapters on the then still existing Harper Collins Authonomy site, where writers could give and receive feedback for work in progress, and have great fun with trolls.
In 2011 another project took priority for a few months, Heart of a Sufi, which involved organising, arranging and co-editing reminiscences about a remarkable teacher who had died in 1990, much too young. He was Fazal Inayat-Khan, aka Frank Kevlin, the grandson of Hazrat Inayat Khan – more here.
The same year, not wanting to become a writing recluse, I started this blog. Through a poet I met online, Course of Mirrors found a small publisher who loved the story, which perked my confidence. Three years passed without action – a long time when you are not getting any younger. During the long wait, I did however write a time-travelling sequel and started a third book. Not keen to endure more agonising delays, I decided to self-publish.
In charge of the process, I had to make decision after decision, aided by a competent team at Troubador and my proof readers, Zohra and Susanne. There will be an initial print run, enabling bookshops to stock copies. The publishing date for Course of Mirrors is April 28th, but the book information is up and orders can be taken in advance, as paperback, and soon also as e-book.
Through Troubador, where I get the best royalties
Today the dynamics of spring enchanted. I glimpsed a yellow butterfly. Sunlight, dappled by branches into a gently moving lattice, was playing on a carpet of fresh cut grass, where Robins feasted on worms. The laurel hedge glistened. A few tulips made a pink and white appearance, their leaves folded as if in prayer.
So insults are spat
from voices of discontent
and righteousness trumps
on every side of the fence
like bubbles of soap
words dissolve on air
all names sound hollow
deep down we know
that truth flows among solids
as a soft wave – rolling
back and forth in time
moved by love that can’t be told
though it turns all worlds
I’ll keep on bridging
realms that mirror each other
and may grace whirl me
on my shadows’ crest – that is
this mystery’s heart dance …
Bridging is also a theme of my first novel, ‘Course of Mirrors,’ whose cover image I’ll reveal in the New Year
* * * I’m wishing you all many moments of grace in 2017 * * *
Bilder des Vaters – Wörter der Tochter A Father’s Images – A Daughter’s Words
My father, now in his 90s, recently recovered from the shock of a fall. Brought to the fore, mortality reshuffles experiences – a mysterious process, different for everyone, young or old. Whether relationships are supportive or troubled by frustrated expectations, in the deep cavern of the psyche experiences assume fresh meaning when endings are contemplated, or happen suddenly. The unconscious speaks a surreal language.
A few years ago, my father took photos of a phenomenon on the island of Fuerteventura, where, in some places, when the tides recede, the white shingle derived from bleached shells and sea creatures mingles with the black sand of volcanic rock. The bizarre sand drawings my father came upon inspired me to write short lines in German, here with English translations. The alliance of images and words surprised us both, hinting at an underlying creative connection between us that could not have been otherwise expressed.
Im Sand träumt das Angesicht der Zeit … The Face of Time Dreams in Sands
Ich seh Dich, du siehst mich noch nicht.
Meine Stimme klingt von der Ferne
In deinem Muschelraum
Geheimnisvoll im Werden.
Manche glauben ich sei nur Sand,
Die irren sich gewaltig.
Ich bin ein Traum wie Du.
I see you – you don’t see me yet
My voice sounds from far away
In your snail chamber, secretly becoming
Some think I’m only sand
I am a dream – like you
Tränen waschen mich rein von der Macht
Das war mir eine Last.
Ich will ich mich nun auflösen
Im Gesang von schönen Symphonien.
Tears cleanse me of power
Which burdened me
Now I will dissolve
In tunes of beautiful symphonies
Ich bin ein komischer Vogel – mit Hörnern und Brüsten
Wie Du trag ich das schweigende Anglitz der fliessenden Zeit
I am a strange bird – with horns and breasts
Like you I wear the silent face of fluid time
Die blassen Gestalten um mich wollen mich beschützen
Als ob ich zu klein bin fur die Welt – vielleicht ahnen Sie
Dass ich ein Drache werden will der die Welt erschüttert
The pale figures surrounding me mean to protect
As if I was too small for the world – maybe they suspect
That I want to become a dragon to shake the world
Mein kleiner Tanz ist ansteckened – bald wird der ganze Strand
Bevölkert sein mit Kindern die Hände fassen in Ringelreihen
My little dance is catching – soon the whole beach
Will fill with children who hold hands in Ring a Ring o’ Roses
Vom Wind verwischt und verwandelt bin ich
Das restlose Gemüt einer schlafenden Seele
Blurred by the wind and transformed
I’m the restless mind of a sleeping soul
Meine Flügel sind mir ans Hirn gewachsen
Wer weiss who ich dahin mit segeln werde
Mein Herz blickt schon längst ins Unbekannte
My wings have grown to my brain
Who knows whereto I shall sail with them
My heart has long been gazing into the unknown
Images: Ludwig Weiss – Words: HMA Venema
And then there is ‘The Story of the Sands,’ one of my favourite Sufi stories. Here told by Terence Stamp: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNasXE5_OTI
Memories are like images that flow reflected on the surface of water, at times fast, skipping, turning in on themselves among curling eddies, at times distracted by currents, breaking up into choppy waves … or coming together as facets meeting in quiet waters, as in a calm heart, where past, present and future images arise clearly.
Then again, if waters were always still, never flowing, the reflections in our heart would remain static and never change.
But how to stay aware of images that bring up irrational fears from the deep waters of our collective mind? Imprinted in dust, earth, mud, rock, sand, water and blood, such fears, be it for survival or identity, based on traumatic histories, rob us of our capacity for rational thought. How do we stay aware of the phonmenon that fear begets fear?
We live in a time when listening, by those who have the capacity for it, seems of crucial importance. A time when individuals must make an effort to understand diverse traditions and opinions, a time to aim for compromises, a time to utilise all the knowledge and wisdom aquired by the eduated, and those with wise hearts, a time that requires us to act in unison towards the maintenance of our beautiful planet and all its inhabitans. It’s a time for politicians to look ahead, beyond the span of their appointment. It’s time to wake up – to see the amazing potential of people migrating across the globe, whatever the causes, it’s happening, a time when sharing each other’s traditions and talents can be enriching to everyone.
Our imagination is our hell and our paradise.
Imagination is all: the creator, the maintainer and the destroyer of life, replicating the natural seasons of our earth.
The same capacity for imagination that makes us ill can also heal us.
Humans have a choice.