Monday, January 26, 2015

A Workshop on Creativity

This past weekend, Rachel and I attended our fourth (her fifth) consecutive "Winter Escape," a retreat for like minded Unitarian Universalists in their 20s and 30s around the metropolitan DC area held annually.  For the first time, I presented workshops myself.  This year, I presented two workshops: one on creativity, and the other on improvisational theatre.

While my improv workshop had a much higher number of participants, I was extremely proud of the creativity work we did. We were housed in a large lodge on the banks of the Potomac, along Virginia's Eastern shore. I began the workshop by bringing my class outside, where we stared at a single object.  After staring for a full two minutes, I asked them to close their eyes, and envision the scene, remembering every sense they'd used.  We repeated this twice more.

We then came inside, and engaged in a meditation session, accompanied by guided imagery. I've used these strategies, which I learned as an actor, myself, but never with other writers. I then asked them to free-write in response to three prompts:
1. What is joy?
2. Who is joy?
3. Where is joy?

I didn't ask for their writings, but the participants told me they had a wonderful time, and left the session feeling invigorated, and that their creativity had been rekindled. Such compliments made me very happy.

Friday, January 16, 2015

eBook Heaven

One of my quirks is that I can almost always remember my dreams. Not just one dream a night, but usually three to five distinct dreams.  In the past fifteen years, there have only been a handful of mornings where I've woken up without remembering my dreams.

This morning, I awoke in the middle of a vivid dream. The dream had only just started, when the lovely GET TO WORK NOW sound of my alarm rang through my head, waking me. The dream stuck with me, because I had just been roused from eBook Heaven.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. EBook Heaven?  It sounds like an online bookstore, or perhaps a place eBooks go to die.  In my dream, however, this place was neither. It was a vibrant, living place: a place where the souls of eBooks comminucated and thrived. A place for eBooks written as well as eBooks yet to be born.

This sounds like a joke, but I assure you, dear reader, this dream did happen.  One of my strongest reactions, after waking, was realizing that it had specifically been the Heaven of eBooks.  Not stories, or books in general, but eBooks.  Why eBooks have a separate Heaven is a question for my subconscious. Perhaps the quickly approaching release date of the print version of School of Deaths made me think harder about the eBook out now?  Whatever the reason, in this dream I found myself journeying to eBook Heaven.

I don't remember how I got to eBook Heaven, but I remember the journey had been difficult. I stood there with a purpose, wanting to talk to a specific book. The alarm went off before I found out which book had called me there. Was it mine or someone else's? Perhaps a book not yet written. Whatever the reason for my presence, the image was startling clear.  

I stood amid swirls of floating color, like the Northern Lights. There was no ground or familiar landscape anywhere. Before me, patterns of glowing white vertical lines floated, pulsing. With every pulse, a warmth entered my skin. I also remember smelling cookies or something else baked with a sweet scent. The air jingled with the constant gentle music of wind chimes. This, in my mind, was eBook Heaven.

I had only time to observe the surroundings, nothing else. When I remember a full dream, it might involve full days' worth, or many actions and events, but this was a newly-started dream, cut short by the alarm. This was an image: a powerful image that lingered in my subconscious. It was also a question: what is eBook Heaven?

I had a friend in college who claimed everything, whether it was a person, animal, or inanimate object has a soul. I don't necessarily believe that, but if stories are created from the soul of artists, is it possible that there is a Heaven where stories live?  Perhaps even a separate Heaven for eBooks?  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A fantastic Honeymoon

Rachel and I had delayed our honeymoon, for reasons of time off and money.  Well, two days ago, we returned, and the vacation was one of the best of our lives.

We began on the Big Island.  We spent three nights in Volcano Village, enjoying sights on the windward side (east). The land around the volcano is amazing. On Chain of Craters Drive, a scenic drive within the National Park, you could stop every ew minutes and see something else amazing.  We drove five minutes from a 93 degree desert of lava, where we walked to the petroglyps, to a 72 degree rain forest, where we entered a lava tube.

We left the windward side, and traveled across island to the Kona region, stopping at a coffee plantation to learn how coffee is grown. Rachel relaxed in the spa on Christmas Eve, while I took an amazing helicopter tour, seeing some of the most astounding sights I've ever dreamt of.

We flew to Kauai on Christmas, and spent some time with our cousin who lives there.  We did two whale watch tours, seeing over 30 whales, inclding a calf who breached 10 feet from our hands.  We visited the beautiful Waimea Canyon, and I even went snorkeling for the first time in my life.  Plus, of course, a luau. 

We had a single half-day on Oahu, and were unable to get tickets to the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, so instead did a LOST and movie loations tour, which was a fun way to see a lot of the northern side of the island.

We then visited our friends in LA, stopping at Warner Bros. for a studio tour, and the next day visiting the Tournament of Roses Parade.  We had a wonderful and inspiring trip!