Change Is Constant

Change Is Constant

Change Is Constant

Cataclysms: Reflections on change seem to arise naturally out of the news these days. From earthquakes and tsunamis to tornadoes and floods, change is affecting thousands and thousands of people. Even at a distance from these disasters, we are affected by observing these often catastrophic changes.

The Year 2012: As these changes occur, do we notice the extremity of the changes and reflect on doomsday and the end of the world? It’s hard not to as the mythic year of 2012 approaches. Or do we notice the extremity and manifold nature of these events and consider how change is a necessary part of life? We may not embrace change immediately, yet we often have no choice but to go through it. We may find later that even an unwelcome change can, in the long run, be a shortcut to a better place, a better now.

Phases of Life: In my own life, change has sometimes been catastrophic, sometimes mundane but has always been constant. I’ve lived my life in periods or phases. I seem to have lived in certain locations or stayed at certain jobs for about five to seven years, and then even if I’m not expecting—something happens that causes my location or job to change. I suppose this topic came to mind because it will be five years in December that I’ve been at my current location and my current job.

Daily Changes: enjoy my job and I like the community where I live now, but I do wonder if nature will suddenly uproot me and take me somewhere else. I hope not. I know it happens though. I do find that even with 2012 approaching and the nearby course of the asteroid in November of this year, I am less concerned about the cataclysmic possibilities of change because I am more focused on the tiny daily changes I see in myself.

Change as Growth: I am changing. My joy in life grows. I have a kinder relationship with the world. I value my blessings more. I am thankful for the possibility of transcendence on a daily basis, wonderful and loving friends, reasonably good healthy despite my frequent missteps of intention, enjoyable and life-supporting work, a comfortable home, and the bright sunshine on a cool, breezy day.

I know more change is ahead. Change is constant. I am happy though to be able to appreciate my current steps on the path. Don’t be afraid of change.

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Change for the better concept ID 49820260 © Christos Georghiou | Dreamstime.com

Dara’s Top Ten Favorite Short Stories

The Story

The Story

All literature majors, graduate or undergraduate, eventually sit around and discuss what they would put on their lists of favorite stories, novels, poems, or plays. Though my lists tend to disassemble and reassemble themselves, my top-ten list of short stories remains the most stable. Below are my top ten favorite short stories.

10. “The Jolly Corner” by Henry James

9.”Death in the Woos” by Sherwood Anderson

8. “The Garden of Forking Paths” by Jorge Luis Borges

7. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

6. “The White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett

5. “The Rockinghorse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence

4. “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville

3. “The Falling Girl” by Dino Buzzati

2. “All at One Point” by Italo Calvino

1. “The Explosion in the Parlor” by Bai-Xiao-Yi

I know. I know. How could I leave out Poe, Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Raymond Carner, Hemingway, David Sedaris, and so many more? Maybe I need two top-ten lists. Hmm . . . I would probably also want to include the following:

10. “Beyond the Bayou” by Kate Chopin

9. “The Zebra Storyteller” by Spenser Holtz

8.”The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth” by Ron Rash

Okay, okay. I better stop here or I’ll end up with a dozen lists.

Abbie, this post is for you. And to all readers: What are your favoite short stories? I’m looking for another good story to read.

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The Charm of Story

 

Stories Charm

Stories Charm

Storyness: Story has charm. From childhood on, we are charmed by stories told to us. From the earliest fairy tales to graphic stories to flash stories to literary stories, we listen to or read stories with absorption and excitement. When the caveman came home and depicted his (or her) hunt on the wall of the cave, storytelling was taking place. Stories came out of the oral traditions of all cultures around the globe. Curiously enough, these early stories, though widely separated by geography, including large oceans, shared similar plots and motifs.

Role of Story: What creates such charm in story that it is the longest tradition in literature? Stories amuse and delight us. Stories instruct us (remember the fable and parable?). They record our values and our culture. They communicate among cultures. And they reveal a structural dynamic that is fundamental to human consciousness—a momentary collapse of wholeness into a point  and the reemergence of wholeness from that point to a new level of understanding.

Princess and the Pea

Princess and the Pea

Stories Change: Story has changed over the millennia. Early tales rely mainly on familiar plots and motifs. The fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” revolves around a tiny pea, the discernment of which indicates a highly evolved level of purity and sensitivity. In early tellings, it is a young man who discerns the lentil under the mattresses to win approval to inherit a kingdom. In a later more familiar telling, a princess is the one for whom the tiny lump of a pea creates a bad night of rest but wins her the hand of the prince because of her purity and sensitivity.

Modern Stories: In modern short stories, the familiar plot lines have been embellished with richer character development revealing psychological depths while motifs, though still present, have blossomed as well into figurative language. Read a story like Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and it’s not enough to recognize the pink ribbon as a symbol, one must delve into the characters of young Goodman Brown and his wife Faith as well as the townspeople to understand the role the forest and town culture play in the story. Then we can create our own meaning from the story.

Dynamics of Story: The underlying dynamics of story remain the same—that collapse of a larger wholeness into a point of coalescence, from which a new understanding emerges—but elements may interact differently. Contemporary forms of story, whether flash fiction or the graphic story, are also constructed from these same elements and follow the same structural dynamics. In flash fiction, this dynamic is minimized almost to the point of a joke or anecdote while the graphic story showcases the dynamic in an image (harkening back to the motif of early tales).

Wholeness: All these variations of story exert the same charm. We are drawn to that glimpse of wholeness from which a story emerges, and we are mesmerized as the wholeness collapses into a point. We wait, anticipating the closure, to see the new wholeness of understanding that emerges. Over and over again, we are charmed by this process. We are entertained, we learn, and we experience this process of creation in its short encapsulated form. We hear one story and we want another.

Creation: Each story lets us experience the story of creation, so to speak. On the surface, we delight in the complexity of the characters, in the richness of the language and figures, and in the reality shown by the setting, but at a deeper level, we follow that presentation of wholeness to its collapse and we experience the new emergence of wholeness from the point—a different, even deeper level of understanding. Story is creation; that’s why it charms.

A Consciousness-BasedSM approach applied to literature can be explored in other posts in the archives on this site.

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The mattresses and pea ID 52683050 © Zulfiya Ishmukhametova | Dreamstime.com