Guilty Pleasure Reading

There are times when I cannot stand to consume another book on leadership or team building or marketing or anything that’s remotely educational.

My brain cannot stand one more byte of data or information.

Instead, I need to dream, to get lost in a story so fantastical and extraordinary that I forget which world I live in.

So I consume fantasy and science fiction novels like candy.

But not just any sci-fi/fantasy novels. Young Adult ones.

I’ll admit, it’s a little strange that at 37 years old I still often read books where the lead characters are teenagers or children.

But you’ve done it too. Don’t pretend like you didn’t read Harry Potter.

So what’s up with my slight obsession with this genre? (Seriously, they’re like cupcakes.)

It’s the hope, the way the characters in the story see the world — as full of possibilities and magic and love. Even when they are broken or in pain, there’s still a deep belief in them that there’s more. It’s not a hope that someone will rescue them or fix things for them. It’s a deep inner knowing that there is a magic inside of each of us – courage, strength, insight, wisdom…some spark that pushes them forward to face evil or injustice.

It’s the knowing that as tiny as we may be in a vast universe, we make ripples with our actions. We bend the fabric of spacetime and that little impact can grow. It can become a thought or an idea or a movement.

I read to remind myself. Even if I can’t see it or feel it or know it, I too make little impacts in my life and world.

And there’s still magic in me. I may not ever channel it with a wand, but I have gifts that swirl inside of me to unleash into this world.

And most importantly, that there’s more to the world than we see immediately. There are hidden dimensions and mysteries and experiences we cannot reproduce in a lab or perfectly explain with our limited knowledge — certainly not yet and possibility not ever. But we can still stand and wonder and be grateful that we’re part of this dance.

Intersections

I’ve always been curious about the places where two things meet — two paths, two opportunities, two ideas — particularly if they seem like opposites.

Light and shadow. Water and land. Heaven and earth. Sleep and wakefulness. Work and play. Intellect and emotion. Religion and science.

After graduating college (the first time), I spent time exploring the boundaries of religion and science. Some authors wanted to merge the two. Others demanded hard boundaries. I met scientists who attended church, who held a place for wonder in their hearts, and religious people and scholars who understood what it meant to honor both the scientific method and our own subjective experiences of the world, who knew that we are more than science can fully explain but that science allows us to engage with the world in a different way than religion does. You could hold both without contradiction because they had different purposes in our lives.

There were of course the obvious perversions: people with no real scientific background claiming that quantum mechanics provided explanation for user-directed reality and people’s ability to manifest whatever they thought. I admittedly wanted to be one of these when I first entered the field — I wanted to show that religion and science could be blended together. But this was the wrong way of blending, one that actually dishonored both the mysteries of the world and our scientific knowledge. I quickly became an advocate for religion and science speaking to each other, informing each other, but not misappropriating the other’s beauty.

These days I think about the light and darkness within ourselves, the Western emphasis on light and beauty and goodness as pinnacle of achievement, while our darkness, our anger or rage, our ugliness is repressed. We are told the darkness is wrong, evil, something to be smothered out of us.

Last summer, I was listening to a friend speak about this. He had spent several months in the rainforests of South America studying with a shaman. The people there laugh at the way we’ve polarized the light and dark within ourselves. For them, it is all the same.

And science teaches us that the distinctions we make at the macro level are artifices — ways we attempt to organize and make sense of the world. But at the quantum level and further down into the rabbit hole of what makes everything up, there are no such distinctions. It all exists and does not exist.

As you move up the chain, from strings to atoms, to rocks and men, properties emerge. Light. Darkness. Colors. Sounds. Taste. Consciousness. Institutions and industries and endeavors. Creativity. Love.

Intersections are interesting places to play in. Sometimes the deeper we look at opposites the more the boundaries blur.

Discovery

The light is warm and inviting. During the day, there is sunlight that floods the room. At night it is warm and comfortable.

The room is filled with your favorite books, the right furniture, a kitchen, a soft bed, everything you need. It would be easy to spend all your days here — and indeed you have, comforted by the familiarity of the space.

Until one day, in tracing the lines of the walls, your fingers find a crack in the wall that reveals itself to be a door. You lean into it, and it opens into a hallway, elaborate and large. You don’t even stop to grab a flashlight.

There is artwork lining walls, a greenhouse flooded with sun, a ballroom with tall chandeliers. Beyond those, more rooms, some dark, some light, some empty, some filled with treasures.

And you realize that you’ve been living in this mansion all along, but only in one room.


That’s where I found myself this week, realizing that I had been living in one room of myself.

For the sake of metaphors, we’ll call it the Study. It’s where all the logical workings of business and finance and life have been happening for me. And while it has its own wonders, it’s become stifling and small. I’ve outgrown it.

The depth of who I am is much more daring and expansive. There are rooms I still have not discovered. But there is light and comfort, there is the seduction of candlelight and captivating scent of foreign flowers, there is darkness and wonder and mystery. There are hidden passageways and forgotten places waiting to be discovered. And even though I know it all, I am exploring and running the halls, laughing.

Where are you living?

Looking Forward…and Back

I remember the days when blogging consumed my life regularly.

It had all started in a rather roundabout way, as I had hoped to flirt (albeit VERY indirectly) with a guy I worked with. My assumption is that surely he would read my posts, be taken by me, and declare his undying love. In reality, the guy was a player and I was a fun game in his book. I moved on.

Like many others, blogging was a way to connect with friends and have a place to share the cool stuff I found or speak my mind. Then it became something bigger — a way of connecting with new people, getting to know them and allowing them to know me. That is still the best reason I blogged.

Then I lost it. The blogosphere grew exponentially fast, and I felt like one more voice in an ocean of voices. The way people were connecting changed, and in some places, high school-esque cliques seemed to form. So I stopped. I didn’t want to worry about producing content for the day, or forcing myself to attend festivals and events I didn’t want to go to, just to grab new photos. I wanted to live my life fully for myself.

And that’s precisely what I’ve done for the past two years? three years? I’m not even sure anymore.

Blogging has become like theatre for me – a dull aching inside me, feeling as if something is missing but unsure what the pangs are most of the time. I miss being on stage. I miss writing. I miss connecting with my audience, whether they’re in plush red velvet seats or sitting at home on the sofa with a cup of coffee.

I’m not entirely sure what this new phase will be, but I’m going deep this time. I’m not holding back. Let’s begin…

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.