Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Wed 6 Feb 02 05:28
Rip, I love that quote: "Wonder at what is as it is". I guess since September 11th, everyone's been wondering about evil a whole lot more than they may have been prior to that date. And it's an awful tricky thing. I don't think it's a term that should be tossed around lightly because it can lose its true meaning. Just like the term love-- if you use it to describe everything you come in contact with (I love this, I love that), than the real meaning vanishes. You don't really love everyone and everything you say you do. Nobody does. But, we use that term too loosely. We could end up doing that with the word evil, too. Some people and some acts are, without a doubt, evil, no matter how you look at them. Others, though, are a matter of perspective. In Voices of Truth, all 14 of the people discuss some "not nice" stuff, but is any of it truly evil? Perhaps. We discuss the greed that has turned medical care into an industry that has forsaken patients (and even doctors,now), has led pharmaceutical companies to be more interested in finding treatments than cures since they can make more profits on treatments than one-time cures patients would take, and we certainly discuss the general crappiness exhibited by people throughout the ages. What leads to evil? Many things: fanaticism, greed, fear, mental instability, the list goes on. People mistakenly think that just because civilization has advanced technologically, and that we live more comfortably, we have also advanced as human beings. We certainly have not. The darker side of human nature is no different than it was hundreds, thousands of years ago. We're all just animals, afterall. And we have seen evidence of that all over the world every single day, since time began. In fact, we've pretty much just found quicker, deadlier, more efficient ways to maim and kill each other--and more people at a time--as the centuries, and more recently, decades, have marched on. By the way, would you believe that I'm an idealist and the eternal optimist? I am. Honestly. But, I'm also pretty realistic about what I'm up against as an idealist and optimist. I call 'em as I see 'em. Now, about Michio Kaku: he's one of the fathers of hyperspace (or string) theory. He's the one who came up with the breakthrough equation. He's your basic genius, but with a twist: he's a terrific communicator, has a wicked sense of humor, and he's quite liberal and progressive. A great conversationalist. Also, he's got quite the gift for explaining complex things--must be an amazing teacher. In my book, I call him the physics professor you wish you had. He was born in California, and his parents had been put in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Isn't it amazing, when you look back, that Japanese people in the U.S. were rounded up, had their things confiscated, and were tossed in camps? Fear makes people do some pretty inhumane things. Anyway, I think you'll enjoy his chapter in Voices of Truth, and his books, especially Hyperspace.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Wed 6 Feb 02 07:08
Sorry, Francesca, I didn't mean to imply that I was engaging in general self-help bashing, though some of its purveyors deserve some bashing from time to time. You, however, are not one of them. However, I do believe that some people have taken it way too far and are drowning in it: both those offering the help and those looking for it. Their constant introspection actually keeps them from living a life because they're too busy analyzing it. Anyway, I agree with what you said about the spirituality of scientists, and their devotion to seeking truth is what opens them up to the cosmos, and with self-help, as in science, you have to seek the truth and do the work. I guess it's all about attitude. With the self-help seekers and self-help helpers, there's way too much judgment. Everyone can be so hard on themselves, and often on others. Those looking to improve their lives can get too caught up in trying to be perfect and in judging others based on that, too. Scientists are looking for truth, but I don't think they're so caught up in perfection since there's less at stake for them emotionally then there is for a self-help seeker or self-help helper. A scientist doesn't try to understand the mysteries of the universe in order to find Mr. or Ms. Right, seem more together and lovable to family, friends or colleagues, or otherwise improve their personal life. A scientist seeks truth and understanding of the universe JUST BECAUSE HE/SHE HAS TO KNOW. One of my oldest friends, Laura (whom you've spoken to on the phone) is a scientist by nature, though not by current profession. She was a biology major in college, and science (as well as science fiction)is still what floats her boat and occupies her thoughts everyday. I was talking to her today about science and spirituality, and she summed up quite nicely why scientists are inherently spiritual: "To be a good scientist you have to be able to see beyond-- beyond logic, beyond rationality, beyond the physical world. Because that's where the answers are". When she said that, I screamed, "Ooh! Let me write that down, it's terrific". So I'm passing it along here. I think that you, Bob, and Rip will ooh and aah at it, just like I did. Science and spirituality are also just two sides of the same coin: different ways to describe the same phenomena and the same quest to understand the universe and ourselves.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Wed 6 Feb 02 07:21
About paste eating... Even though my paste eaters article was a humor piece (Are You Now or Have You Ever Been a Paste Eater? was published in one of the November, 1998 issues of Tropic, the Sunday magazine of The Miami Herald. After a long, successful publishing life, the magazine, like many other Sunday newspaper magazines around the country, was killed by the publishers to improve the corporate bottom line. After more than 30 years, the last issue was published in December of that year), I ended up finding out quite a lot about paste, paste eating, and the paste eaters. It's not regional. The people I talked to had grown up all across the country. I don't think it's generational either, since those I spoke with ranged in age from 12 to 50-something. And it's not ethnic, cultural, or religious within the U.S. or Canada (I talked to people from both countries). It also has nothing to do with socio-economic level: rich or poor, some kids just love to eat paste. My hunch is that paste eating was a boy thing rather than a girl thing turned out to hold up. (Think back, when you were growing up, how many of the paste eaters were girls? Few, if any). It was funny how everyone opened up and told me about all the other gross things they ate as kids--dog biscuits, laundry starch...I heard about one kid who even ate gravel. Oh, and just for the record--I never ate paste or anything else unusual or yucky. Hell, I wouldn't even eat oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, Maypo, or anything else with that consistency (as a kid and as an adult), so paste certainly never seemed like a swell idea.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Wed 6 Feb 02 11:46
I have to say, everything, I mean everything, that has been said in the posts since I last posted, I not only agree with, but am so excited about! Nina, I know you werent bashing self help -- everyone, Nina and I are actually friends, and we heatedly debate stuff like this all the time, and totally support each others work. So, Nina, not to worry. When I say I am into what everyone just posted, that includes your most recent post about self-help. Speaking of which: >Their constant introspection actually keeps them from living a > life because they're too busy analyzing it. Yes! I do shamanic counseling for folks all over the world by phone and no matter where they live, one of the things my clients sometimes need help with is not using pseudo-healing as a way to stop actual healing, some of which must come just from getting out there and living! Its a terrible trap that this society seems to want people in, especially women, so that they stay powerless! Back to awe, just as an aside: last night I was thinking of a point I made here yesterday and thought of Lew Welsh, the amazing mystic and poet. He said that a poet must work on his craft -- AKA discipline -- so that when the moment of inspiration hits he can transcribe it! I would go further and say that without the discipline of perfecting the craft the inspiration perhaps will not hit. My question for you Nina: Rumi, the 13th century mystic says in one of his poems that some seek God out of love of God and some out of fear but that any seeking comes from God and is legitimate. I think this is an important point, because we who have awe of the starry sky or are awash with magic at the thought of God or anything else comparable might judge those who seek God out of pain. Yet I agree with Rumi, that all paths come from God in the first place. Now, spirituality can exist without God, I just happened to use Rumis material which happens to be about God. So my point here is not so much about God per se but about the validity of all *spiritual* motivations. Yet one of your earlier statements, Nina, seemed to imply that spirituality that comes from pain or a desire to improve oneself is less valid, Yet I know you, and know you dont believe that. So can you expand a bit more on the point you were trying to make? And I would be so happy if you felt like addressing, in any way you desire, the points I just made about pain being a doorway into spirituality.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Wed 6 Feb 02 13:36
Francesca: I'm glad you brought that up. It's not that I believe that there are more valid or less valid sources of spirituality, spiritual paths, or motivations towards spiritual exploration. I believe that what we have left out of the equation is, perhaps, the equation's most important element: the human mind. People make all of the choices in their lives, including choices regarding their spiritual motivations, paths, and how they use spirituality, by using their minds. So, a person in pain has a mind set that leads him to think a certain way and make certain choices. Some of those choices pertain to that person's views on spirituality. That is not to say that a path to spirituality that begins in either pain or fear is any more or less valid than one that does not. It's just different than a path that begins from a place other than pain or fear. The qualities and experiences of the pain/fear path will, by definition, be quite different than those of a path that is not motivated by pain or fear. That is one of the reasons why everyone has unique spiritual experiences than are unlike those of other people. Plus, many things happen to us while we're on our path. While someone may not have begun down the path from a place of pain and fear, they may certainly encounter those things down the road. Does it matter where someone's path begins and what motivates them to walk down the path in the first place? No, I don't believe it does matter. But where you begin and what motivated you will color your experiences on the path.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Wed 6 Feb 02 16:15
great, thank you!! Yes, the motive makes so much difference. Which brings me to my next thought/question. Motive shapes the path and yet, for me, perhaps the net result counts more, dont you think? I want two results from my path (two that I can think of offhand, so this might be glib): 1) I am pagan to the core, so the mystical experience of, for example, God(dess) walking next to me as I go about my day -- not as a metaphor but Her actual tangible presence, I feel Her as tangibly as if she were an embodied being -- is vitally important to me. I suspect that I would dry up like a dead leaf without visceral experiences of a spiritual nature. 2) But it is easy for mystics, myself included, who in rejecting a mechanistic society and its dry didactic and repressive spirituality, to become *too* enamored of the mystical experience and forget that no matter how groovy your meditations feel, if your spiritual path is not helping you be kind to yourself and others, youve got to reevaluate your path. For me, goal #2 is where discipline comes in. I personally have to practice diligent disciplines on a daily basis to keep my spiritual feet on the ground while my mystical head is in the clouds. Any thoughts about any of this, Nina?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Wed 6 Feb 02 16:23
Ooh, Ooh, ooh, also, Nina, (I love your thought process!) since the human minds influence on ones spiritual path is so deliciously key to your last post, can you in any way address the relationship between net result of one's path and ones mindset? Ooh, ooh ooh!
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Thu 7 Feb 02 13:53
(next day) : Hi, Yall, well, tomorrow and Sunday are the last two days of this conversation with Nina. So, folks, nows your chance to ask your last questions of Nina, make your important points, stand on your soap boxes. Nina, ditto! Wonderful things have been said, and truly interesting issues raised. And I look forward to seeing Ninas answers to the questions posted yesterday. (This is my second time checking in today and no one else has posted yet today but I am sure Nina will make her daily contribution before the day is out. And I will be back tomorrow.) Now, how do we end this grand medley of thoughts, Nina, everyone?!
Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 8 Feb 02 00:05
Thanks for those responses Nina. I think that that "wonder at what is as it is" is what makes realistic idealists possible! And now I actually have your book!! I love the frontpiece quotes: "There are powers who take care of you. If you're a doctor, you get sick people; if you're a lawyer, you get cases; if you're a writer, the Almighty sends you stories." -- Isaac Bashevis Singer "We have sought truth, and sometimes perhaps found it. But have we had any fun?" --Benjamin Jowett Taking off on those quotes, (and one more, in the Jaco interview, you observe, "People are the way they are because of life itself.") -- it seems that one of your talents is to bring what should be obvious into some sort of compelling relief, so it actually *is* obvious. Since we're winding down, feel free to ignore as many questions as you wish, but I do wonder... 1) On the personal level, in the intro, you comment (when you start interviewing the fireman on the front lawn of your smoking house), "Sometimes it's annoying to not be able to not be yourself." What I would be curious to hear a little more about would be some of the turns your life took between having your wonderful second grade teacher and, well, now. I know you've said you had a sense from a young age of what you wanted to do, but how did that play out? Sometimes when I've sensed the outlines of what I might be "meant" to do, I've felt like Jonah headed for the whale. Other times, well, it's just that undeniable thread weaving through it all. For you? 2) The people you interview really are out on some frontiers, even beyond the frontier. What do you think will happen when the rest of us catch up? For example, can Deborah Mash (neuroshamanism) bring new wealth to a "bankrupt community," or will science and mysticism just get un-wedded again when her ideas and discoveries are applied? 3) You say, "I never wanted to write about hard news or breaking news -- crime, politics, accidents." But, to me, what you write about *is* hard, breaking news. What do you think makes it seem that way to me, and apparently, to you? Is it a little bit of a different sense of time-scale? Of values? Of curiosity? 4) Ok, so what is Truth? These are Voices of Truth, and it's like music, they're all different, even contradictory, but they're "in tune." What is it? Ok, enough, off to bed to read Voices...
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Fri 8 Feb 02 04:58
Francesca, sorry that some of my answers aren't posted until the day after the questions are posted. That's because of the time difference--you're on the West Coast and I'm on the East Coast. So, if you post late in the day, I may not see it until the next morning, or afternoon, my time. I thought your ideas regarding spirituality, discipline, helping others, not floating around in a mystical haze, made lots of sense. As for your question regarding how mind set is linked to spiritual path and results, I think that there are infinite answers to that since so many mind sets lead to so many different kinds of paths, and those, in turn, lead to so many results. I'd like to toss out some ideas for discussions we can have during the last few days of this on-going interview. Let'a talk about creativity, inspiration, exploration, humor, imagination, and time travel.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Fri 8 Feb 02 09:32
Well, regarding exploration. I would like to know what it was like to interview Charles Jaco, the intrepid CNN reporter. He is a figure that fascinates me and was among my favorite interviews in Voices of Truth: the American cowboy mentality has been denigrated so much, but it has its strong points and it seems to me, though I dont know Jaco, that he embodies those good traits. He runs into trouble instead of away from it, looking for truth in the hopes of creating, dare I say it, justice. And he seems to have the adventurers plain old love of trouble and danger! Maybe I am completely romanticizing him, but that is how it seems from a distance. For all I know, he just wants a good career. And maybe it is that plus everything else Ive conjectured. So what was it like interviewing him, what motivates him, what is he like? And is he single? :-) BTW, I made a typo yesterday: weve three, not two days, including today, to wrap all this up: three whole glorious days so that anything anyone asks or says has plenty of time to be answered, developed, debated and praised!!
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 8 Feb 02 15:52
(remember, if you don't have a WELL account and you're reading this on the web, you can send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Sat 9 Feb 02 12:44
Rip, you bring up a lot of good stuff. You should be interviewing people on a regular basis! First, my path as a writer: even though I knew what I wanted to do, the path did take plenty of twists and turns, and I was able to gain experience in many formats, from magazine and newspaper articles to TV and radio, to newsletters, advertising, PR and books. As I said in Voices of Truth, I just followed my curiosity wherever it took me, and assessed the various opportunities as they came up. I still do that. Regarding the "frontier" status of the people interviewed in the book: I really don't view them as people whom others have to catch up to, and that's because I know that plenty of people who aren't well-known to the public (and may or may not be well known in their fields) have similar ideas and concerns, philosophies and opportunities (on all sorts of scales), interests and observations. I think that so many readers can identify with the people in the book, can relate to them and may even think, while reading, "Yeah, me, too! The only difference is that those in the book have sought out ways to share their ideas, experiences and observations publicly. Anyone can do that, and with an "audience" of any size, even just the people they come in contact with personally and professionally and in their various communities. Now, regarding your question about my comment in the book about not covering "hard news". That term is a media distinction that's applied to certain kinds of stories that are handled in a "Just the facts, ma'am" (to quote Dragnet!) style that differs greatly from the feature approach, in which observations, commentary and opinion are woven into the story. For example: somebody robs a convenience store and a reporter does a story does a story about it for the newspaper. That story just reports the facts: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why (if that's known). It's straightforward, reported as quickly as possible since it's a "breaking news" event. Later, maybe days, weeks, months or even years down the road, a newspaper or magazine writer might do a longer, in-depth feature story about the misguided teenager, who, in order to impress his buddies, robbed the convenience store This longer piece is part profile of the kid, part commentary, part storytelling of what led up to the event, the event, and its aftermath. Maybe it has a sociological angle to it. Maybe any number of other angles depending upon the details of the kid's life and the events. This feature looks at the big picture, not just the dry facts of the crime. And, finally, to your last question regarding truth: I liked your analogy to music. Yes, everyone has their own "truth", and these truths may vary, but still be in tune, and harmonize with other peoples' truths. I'm glad you picked up on that.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Sat 9 Feb 02 12:54
Well, Francesca, and any other women out there who may be interested, I'm sorry to have to tell you that Charles Jaco is very happily married to a terrific television producer, Melissa, who is bright, talented, warm, and funny. Charles is exactly as he appears to be in the interview: he is looking for truth in the name of justice, and he's always been on the true reporter's mission. He knew that danger and injury were possibilities on many of the stories he has pursued, but that "came with the territory", as the old saying goes. He's now doing a radio interview show out of St. Louis, on KMOX. It's called "Newsmakers", and it's on Monday-Friday, from 2-4 p.m. Central. He's also written a couple of novels and he's now working on a non-fiction book. You can find him on the Internet. In addition to the radio station's site, he has his own website.
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sat 9 Feb 02 13:39
Rip, Im with Nina about you becoming an interviewer and I had been thinking the same myself. When I was interviewed in this same venue -- folks, I came to be interviewed and somehow remained as an interviewer; if you want to see the ahem fab interview with me it is Francesca De Grandis; Goddess Initiation -- your participation added a remarkable amount to the conversation. I think Inkwell.vue has a closet interviewer in you! Or maybe you function best if someone else gets the ball rolling and then you perhaps have the easygoing space to do your remarkable thing? Who knows? In any case, youre an asset to inkwell.vue! Nina, yes yes yes, what you said about everyone having their truth and needing to share it with others no matter the size of their audience. And, as Nina and anyone who read my last book knows, this is also a soapbox of mine. And of course when anyone says anything I believe in like Nina has just now, I think theyre a genius! :-) Your comments also hearken back to our discussion about rip off self-help leaders. A true guru is not someone whom others mindlessly follow but someone who has the gift for helping others discover and trust their *own* unique wisdom. Unfortunately, as a self-help teacher and national religious leader, I find people sometimes want me to give them the answers instead of helping them do the work themselves. Though I am excellent at helping them find their *own* paths I hate it when others want the answers from me. Did you find this an issue with other self-help or religious leaders you interviewed, that pressure to be the dictator of morals et al? Well, Nina, everyone, this has been a learning experience! And tomorrows the last day, so this may be my last question.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Sat 9 Feb 02 17:16
Francesca, How nice of you to notice I'm a genius (she said modestly). Actually, I think we have discussed my genius as well as your genius numerous times in the past, but I really appreciate you letting everyone else in on this. OK, now on to the issues. I agree with your take on that fine line between teaching people and running their lives for them. A number of the people in Voices of Truth expressed the same concern that you have. The one who put it most strongly was Caroline Myss, best selling author and medical intuitive. She adores teaching, coaching, inspiring people, but absolutely refuses to be anyone's guru, to have anything even remotely resembling "followers" and, in fact, she looks at those who feel the need to have someone to follow as perhaps in more need of help than others. Someone who wants to be a follower, though, needs a special kind of help, since that desire is a problem in and of itself, apart from whatever other issues that person may be exploring. James Redfield also expressed a very strong desire not to be anyone's guru or leader, and in all of his work his main theme draws upon the premise that everyone needs to be in charge of their own spiritual and personal development. I'm looking forward to any final comments or questions on Sunday, our last day talking together. This has been great, and I'm going to miss checking in every day to hear what everyone has to say.
Rip Van Winkle (keta) Sun 10 Feb 02 09:18
Well thanks Nina, Francesca for the compliment. Although I do also experience my share of times here on the WELL where I will make a comment and the topic just goes silent (imagining people all over going "huh?") To me, the most fascinating thing about internet discussion ties right in to Nina's point that the people in the book aren't really somewhere that needs catching up to, but actually surrounded by a whole range of others who just aren't being so visible about it. Although posting in this mode is a classically individual act, it starts to bring out in people a great intuitive sense of (and responsibility to) the collective. Imagining, and honoring the existence of, all those folks nodding, "me too" and all those also shaking their head, "nope!" becomes a more exercised part of one's nature here. On the hard news vs. feature distinction, what I'd like to add is that it seems to me that there are angles of perspective that focus that Who What Where When How Why attitude on the "feature" material. I imagine a shaman's WWWWHW. Or the perspective that a system such as astrology or ecology implies - pushing you to see interpenetrating scales of, well, not "causality," but pertinant significance. Whole Earth once put out a book of material collected from the magazine titled "News that Stayed News." One last question before I rush off today: about focus. It seem to me that even passion plus discipline don't fully answer the question as to what one is to do. The doctor gets too many patients, the lawyer too many cases, the writer too many ideas. Maybe one reason why becoming a follower is so enticing is that it contributes to settling that question of focus. So the question is, what are the other ingredients that go into "downshifting" all that passion, curiosity, and discipline into the constraints of time?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sun 10 Feb 02 10:42
ooh, Rip, love your question. And I want to answer it myself so badly (just call me Madame-Francesca-Knows-All-Sees-All,) but Ill leave it to Nina. As to your comment about posting bringing out peoples sense of responsibility: maybe your posts have an added value as a non-interviewer, in that folks can see someone who is not official jumping in and trusting his/her authority. Great role model. Nina, re your jokes about genius: I think you and I are are lucky in that we have strong egos. Ive always known that I had something important to say and that I was a genius! But not everyone feels that way; that is a tragedy so I try in my classes, counseling, and books to help folks trust their own unique genius. Everyone has genius of some sort! Well, imagine my delight when I met Cathryn Michon and she talked about her book The Grrl Genius Guide to Life; she writes that it is important for women to declare their own genius and that of other women. She's very funny about it, explaining that a man will declare I am a genus, I can make an omelet but women wont declare their genius after a major accomplishment. So my gal friend Phoebe Wray and I are always telling each other, usually in a joking manner, Youre a genius. And it has actually been good for us, believe it or not. Anyway, as Castle knows, Ive done this interview despite being badly laid up with a herniated disc; I can type very little and most of my typing for two weeks has gone into this interview. Since I am a writer by trade, that means other writing did not happen. I made that choice because I believe in Ninas work, and therefore it was important for me to support it by interviewing her. You who have not read Voices of Truth: It is an important book that could change your life. Get it! My last question: Whats your current and next projects, Nina?
Francesca De Grandis (zthirdrd) Sun 10 Feb 02 21:10
Well, everyone, today's the last day of the topic. It is Happy Trails to You time, as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ride off into the sunset and this sleepy interviewer goes to bed. It is time to say so long. Sigh, much as I hate the fact, the interview is at its end, though maybe someone else will post something yet since there are three more hours til midnight here in California. So party on without me if you want, but for me, heres my exit line --> Nina, Linda, Cynthia, Rip, Rab, and everyone else who participated in this, including those of you who did not post -- you non-posters give silent witness, a silence that creates the universe anew every time you kindly listen to what others are saying -- thank you all for an interesting, enlightening and dynamic two weeks. Its been an honor to do this with you, Nina. Now this sleepy <yawn> gal, whose eyes the sandman has kindly touched with his magic sand, says good night, <yawn>, Goddess bless. Be well, be strong, be yourself, Francesca De Grandis
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Mon 11 Feb 02 05:26
Rip, since these are our last postings, first let me say that I've enjoyed "talking" with you during these last two weeks. Your comments and questions have been insightful, thought-provoking, and have given me the opportunity to explore many areas that I had strong feelings about. That was fun since I seem to have opinions about pretty much everything you could come up with! By the way, I really hate liver and lima beans. Just thought I'd throw that in. You made an interesting point that some people become followers simply because they're unable to focus or feel overwhelmed by everything out there. You ask what to do about focus when dealing with time constraints. That's pretty simple: it all comes down to making choices. Perhaps that's the problem that followers face--they're not comfortable making choices, so they just simply follow someone or something and let that person or doctrine make choices for them, tell thenm what to do, what to think. It takes a certain amount of courage to make choices, and it takes a very strong sense of self, sense of identity, and drive. To some of us, that all comes very naturally. To others, it does not. More on that in my response to Francesca.
Nina L. Diamond (nina-diamond) Mon 11 Feb 02 06:09
Francesca, There's an old saying that I'm sure you're familiar with: "Man plans and God laughs". Of course you could also say: "Woman plans and Goddess laughs". So, whenever I talk about what I'm working on and what I have planned for down the road, I always try to keep that in mind. A rather chilling example of that: For a number of months I had a trip planned in which I was going to interview Christopher Reeve in New York, meet with my agent, have dinner with someone whose work I've been editing, visit with some friends, then after those three days in New York I was going to spend the weekend with family in Connecticut. I was supposed to be on the 8 a.m. flight from Miami to New York on Wednesday, September 12th. So, you can imagine my shock on Tuesday, September 11th when I was watching CNN at 9 a.m. and saw the second plane fly into the World Trade Center. Beyond the shock I felt for all the usual reasons, I also couldn't help thinking about what would have happened if this tragedy had occurred one day later. I would have been one hour into my roughly 2 1/2 hour flight. Who knows where they would have diverted the plane and where I would have been stranded, and for how many days. And, who the hell would want to get back on a plane and fly home after that. I did end up doing the Reeve interview, but, obviously not as originally planned. so, what are my plans? Well, right now I'm doing interviews for magazines that will eventually end up in another interview book. A sequel to Voices of Truth, but it will have very different kinds of people and cover different topics than Voices of Truth. I'm doing book reviews, humor pieces, and some book editing. I am so glad that you were able to conduct this 2 week long interview despite your poor, aching back, and I'm so grateful for your continued support of my writing and Voices of Truth in particular. It means so much to me that you "get" what I was trying to accomplish by writing the book. This on-going interview has been a blast, and I'd love to do it again. By the way, I was thinking this afternoon (Eastern time while all you Californians were probably still snoozing) about our discussions about the self-help leaders, and I wanted to add something that we hadn't covered. As much as these leaders want to help, and as much as people are seeking their help, something else plays into the equation: society has come to view nearly every kind of information as a form of self-help. Even the nightly news has become part self-help, how-to lesson on various topics. I'm a journalist and a writer, yet when I've done talks and book signings for Voices of Truth, some book store managers expect that I'm going to conduct these things as self-help workshops. they're disappointed when I remind them that I'm not a self-help expert or a self-help author. They seem to think that everyone who writes a book is a self-help guru! Perhaps that's because there are so many self-help books out there and publishers insist that many authors create a self-help aspect to books that have nothing to do with self-help. One author I know wrote a memoir and because it had to do with spirituality, her publisher insisted that she put a how-to section at the end of the book to teach readers. She didn't want to do it, but complied just to get her book published. This is ridiculous, but it happens a lot. Readers have been trained, in a way, to expect a self-help angle from just about everything in publishing and the media. I think we live in a society that so desperately needs guidance that they look for it everywhere, even in places it shouldn't be expected to come from. This takes us back to our discussion of last week regarding our society expecting athletes and entertainers to also be role models and counselors of a sort. I think that people are afraid of self reliance and that's why thery're hooked on this guidance thing. Also, they've come to believe (Erroneously, of course) that a celebrity or an author must know something they don't, so they put these people on pedestals and expect them to be role models and experts, and to tell them "how-to-this" and "how-to-that". I don't know the answer to this chicken and egg thing: which came first, a need for guidance, or was that need artificially created by a media, publishing and entertainment industry that figured it could sell people answers, thus creating self-help junkies? I think it's probably a little bit of both. We live in complex times and that can be pretty scary, so people look for help all over the place (and I'm talking about pre-September 11th society, so since then it's gotten even worse). I know I've brought something up that could launch us into two more weeks of discussion. Oops! Francesca, I hope your back in still in one piece--many pieces is not good. Rip, Bob, and everyone else, thanks for asking me to vent, ramble and rant--three of my favorite pasttimes.
Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Mon 11 Feb 02 12:27
Thanks for your wonderful insights and opinions, Nina. I gotta add, I *really* strongly agree with you (and others here) about the notion that many or most people are afraid of decisions and of thinking for themselves, and that's why they so easily slip into being followers. This comes up in politics as much as or more than it does in spirituality, and is a major source of frustration to me and many other people. (I'm gradually learning to just let it be, since otherwise it will just make me crazy to no purpose.) Thanks again, Nina.
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 11 Feb 02 16:00
Thank you Francesca and Nina!
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