Monday, November 29, 2010

An Education

Over the Thanksgiving holiday I had the chance to actually sit down and watch a movie (yay!).  I subscribe to Netflix and the next movie in my queue was An Education, which was released in 2009 and nominated for three Oscars. 
If you have not seen it, the movie is about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London whose life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
At one point in the movie, the main character, Jenny Mellor, says,  "If we never did anything, we wouldn’t be anybody.”  Jenny is reflecting on what her English teacher has taught her, which is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Action is character.”
Now as an author, I immediately thought of the characters I create.  If I want my reader to know that my character is empathetic, I don’t tell my reader that.  Instead, I allow my reader to discover the character’s empathy through the character’s actions.
As a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a manager, a person stuck in traffic next to you - what have my actions said about me to those people I encounter on a daily basis?  Do I walk the talk?  Do my actions show me to be impulsive?  Thoughtful?  That I’m someone who takes my commitments seriously?  Have I been afraid to take risks?  Do I show the love I feel? 
After succumbing to a mild anxiety attack over my moment of self-analysis, I came to a conclusion.  The real question I should ask myself is "What do I want to stand for?"  And how do I reflect that in my actions to lead a more purposeful life? 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I See The Moon

Last week my son came home from school with an assignment to observe the different phases of the moon for a month.  As I read the assignment, the lullaby I used to sing with my son when he was a toddler played in my head:

"I see the moon, the moon sees me
The moon sees the one I want to see
God bless the moon, and God bless me
And God bless the one I want to see."

Some say this is a nursery rhyme; some say it's an ancient prayer to ward off evil.

The word lunatic comes from Luna, the Roman moon goddess.  Ancient folklore tells of how the different phases of the moon impact lunacy, or madness.  Werewolves change by the light of the full moon.

Aristotle conjectured that the full moon's supposed effect on human behavior comes from its influence on water.  The human body is about eighty percent water, so maybe the mysterious influence of the moon on human behavior comes from water molecules in our bodies.

Scientists still debate whether or not the moon influences human behavior.  Seizures, murder rates, birth rates and suicide rates have all been studied in relation to the moon phases, with varying results.

What is a scientific fact is that the moon influences the ocean's tides.  Hunting guides talk about the Solunar Theory (Sol=sun, Lunar=moon), which focuses on how the moon, through its impact on the tides, affects the day to day behavior of fresh and saltwater fish.

I find it fascinating that something so far away (228,857 miles) has such an effect on our planet.  Whether the moon really does impact our behavior I'll let you decide for yourself, but I do believe it impacts our imagination.

Edgar Allen Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Wise Brown, C.S. Lewis, Van Morrison, Glenn Miller, Irving Berlin, Pink Floyd, Jules Verne, and Shakespeare all wrote about the moon.

On the moon card in Tarot, the shellfish is symbolic of life emerging from the water of creation and starting on the path of return to the creator.  The path is a slow process of learning and focus, symbolizing how we emerge from our primordial ignorance, unknowing of our divine potential.  The key to this card is influence.

I symbolize this meaning in my fantasy romance, Entangled, coming out soon by Crescent Moon Press.  The heroine, Cassie, must follow a similar path of enlightenment and influence to save the hero's world, one parallel to our own, from imminent destruction.

The moon plays a major role in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream; he creates a world that is vast and filled with the fantastical, yet solid and real.  It is this impression that I am left with while I stare up at the moon with my son, his wonder and awe influencing me.