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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Space, the Only Frontier

The Roots of Drayton is finally done.

This is the first full length novel in the Drayton series. It's more science-fantasy than it is urban fantasy. The series started out more urban fantasy but this novel evolved with more science fiction elements. So Sci-Fan.

It was space.

That was the element that bent it toward sci-fi. Like a lot of my stories, I don't recall how I got to it, but it frequently reminded me of one of Joko Beck's dharma talks. Practice was about building A Bigger Container.

Joko was the founding teacher of San Diego Zen Center. Her teachings, for me, were some of the most profound and influential. I needed things to make sense, lessons I could integrate into life. A bigger container has always stuck with me. Another Zen teacher, not nearly as well-regarded but still on point, once described his job as "selling space".

Like a lot of my Zen work, my life in general, it's taken time for me to understand. Even now, it takes me weeks, sometimes months, to understand what I'm really feeling. The other day I recalled something that happened over two years ago and put it together.

But space.

Joko's metaphor worked well for me. At the time, I understood it as the ability to hold more life. Forgive me Joko if I missed your point entirely, but that's what I did. My own understanding was something like this. If anger is a pebble and I am a thimble, then anger will completely fill my awareness. I have no room for any other experience. But if I practice and allow myself to expand to the size of a barrel, then the pebble is insignificant. The anger didn't need change.

One of my favorite talks comes from a pschotherapist named Bruce Tift. Already Free is the audiobook. I've listened to it three times and get something from it every time. He refers to experiential intensity and those emotional experiences that can be overwhelming, especially in childhood when we lack the ability and means. When we work with them, or practice, we improve our ability to tolerate, or make room for, more experiential intensity.


I think of space when I lose patience. When someone steps on my last nerve. When I can just be in the moment, listen to someone. I begin to fidget, feel anxious, irritated. I run out of space.

But then there are times when I have plenty of space, enough to accommodate all the feelings--fear, happiness, curiosity, whatever--and just be there with it all. I can't always explain why I have moments of spaciousness. I know I like it. I know I want more. And I seem to experience it more often the more willing I am to just be with whatever is there.

Thimble or barrel.

So if you're a Drayton fan or want to find out what space has to do with any of this, the novel is available for pre-order. Get on it. 

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