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Posts from the ‘transformation’ Category

All that inspiration for just a few dollars

When I walk out of a theater after watching a wonderful movie where good and love triumph, I feel inspired. Perhaps it’s simply the story, whether derring-do or comedy or noir. Or music. Or the cinematography. Often it’s the acting. When I was young, I’d walk down the street after seeing such a movie and think I can do those things. I’d imagine myself beating up the bad guys, taking a hill with a company of marines, finding the magic in the secret cave.

Now I walk out of such movies thinking that I can do my things, whatever my goals may be.

I feel that way when I finish well-written books. Somehow the book or the movie works as a spell and unlocks dreams and abilities and willpower I didn’t know I had. (Or that had gone dormant.) Sometimes they work more like a confidence potion or maybe an angel’s gift. At some level, I suppose, it’s all just a fantasy. There are times, though, when I see differences in my life. Usually, an infusion of energy or a renewed devotion to a long-time project.

I often wonder how many others feel this way after seeing a movie or reading a book. Reading gurus have many theories about the impact of a good story. I don’t have any theories that I know of because having them seems to jinx the whole business. If your theory is that watching a certain movie or reading a certain book is going to turn you into a god or an avatar, then forget it. But, if you don’t think that, you may well be transformed.

As I read this week about a religious pilgrimage that occurred many years ago in the kingdom of Sikkim (now part of India) I find myself thinking more positively about myself and the world than usual even though I have no desire to go there and follow the seeker’s paths. For one thing, I don’t have the patience to spend hours in meditation. I never have. I know I should do it, but I don’t. All that seems so cumbersome to me. But reading about the journey and the seeker’s devotion seems to change me for the better.

And, the book and the movie only cost a few dollars. What a bargain!

Subconsciously, maybe all of us know that in addition to the escapist fun of reading a great novel or seeing a wonderful movie, we will be changed for the better by the experience. I read for the fun of it, not as a spiritual practice. But when I put the book down, I realize I’m a different person than the one who picked up the book.

Perhaps this happens to you as well.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Widely Scattered Ghosts,” a new collection of short stories from Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

 

Review: ‘Return of the Raven’ by Sue Coleman

ReturnRavenBritish Columbia artist Sue Coleman (“An Artist’s Vision,” 1989) brings her knowledge of the Canadian west coast and its First Nations into her magical first novel Return of the Raven (FriesenPress, July 12, 2013).  The novel begins with the Haida creation myth about the role of Raven at the dawn of time in teaching the fledgling humans how to live in the world.

Now, in modern times, Raven–who traces his lineage back to the days when his father and his grandfather talked to spirits and practiced the art of transformation–notices that the world has become a rather sad place of sickening land, dilapidated villages and humans who no longer believe in the spirits. Raven thinks the spirits had fled. He’s afraid to attempt any transformations because, as the old family stories remind him, the magic began to backfire on his father more often than not.

The other animals–including Raccoon and  Otter–have little respect for Raven, seeing him as greedy, manipulative and always hungry. Why can’t he do something valuable with his life? After hearing this question more than once, his feelings are a bit hurt and he begins to wonder why the land and water are sick and whether or not something can be done about it.

Inadvertently, Raven saves the life of a frog who begrudgingly agrees to help him track down the sickness in the water. He has no idea how he saved the frog, but it was very definitely a transformation. While Raven finds it hard to push back his pride in his accomplishment, the very fact that it happened suggests that the spirits haven’t fled and that magic is still possible.

Raven’s quest to find what’s harming the land is a hero’s journey story. En route to the answers he seeks, he interacts with gulls, geese and eagles who have wisdom to share while wondering what manner of bird this is who seems to be changing before their eyes from a greedy, self-indulgent trickster into a creature with compassion. Raven begins to suspect that his father’s magic backfired when greed got in the way.

Return of the Raven is a well-told folktale that shows its author’s sensitivity to coastal British Columbia and its wildlife. The environmental and transformation themes come across as wondrous fantasy and deep truth. Raven returns twice, first from his figurative hibernation since the dawn of time, and second as a bird on a quest who can either give up and go back to his lazy habits or, like the triumphant heroes of human myth, return to his own kind with a prize of great value.

Coleman’s lighthearted approach blends old myths and transcendent themes into a charming re-creation story.

Malcolm

emilyaudibleMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of contemporary fantasy novels, including “The Seeker” and paranormal stories, including his Emily’s Stories collection about a young girl who fixes what’s broken by talking to birds and ghosts.