Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Happiness and Optimism

I won't hide it. I've been fairly happy this year. And I have also, at times, been optimistic. This has led me to wonder, which comes first, happiness or optimism. Is it being happy that leads you to being optimistic, or is it being optimistic that leads you to being happy? I've never been able to force myself to be happy, and I've never been able to force myself to be optimistic. Both seem to arise from a source separate from me (certainly separate from my ego).

Is being happy simply the absence of being unhappy, or is happiness some kind of force that pushes unhappiness out of the way, and vice versa? Is our mental state dependent on our thinking, or is our thinking dependent on our mental state? Can we think ourselves into a state of depression and think ourselves out of it? How powerful are our thoughts?

I'm of the opinion that we cannot think our way into and out of these states. If it were that simple, I think most of us would choose constant happiness. So, if thinking is not the source of either happiness or unhappiness, what is? Where do they come from? Are they part of some kind of teeter-totter within our psyches that tips to one side or the other? A pool of positive and negative emotions that bubble up and down, one or the other influencing us, depending on other factors within our lives at the time? Are they parts of our neurons firing and misfiring? Are they some kind of chemicals in our brains that organize and re-organize haphazardly or by some influence, such as thinking?

This is all so puzzling. I just know that when I feel unhappy, that's the way I feel, and it just goes away on its own, and when I'm happy, I'm happy until I feel unhappy. And I don't know why.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lucid Dreaming: the heart and soul of writing.

Dreams (our indestructible desire to do, or be, something we find important), I think, emanate from our fantasies. The question then becomes, from whence come our fantasies? One of the definitions of fantasy is illusion, illusion being a mistaken idea, a misconception, a misleading visual image; hallucination. These definitions suggest a negative connotation. Yet, there seems to be nothing negative about my dreams. They seem positive and encourage me to act on them. So, perhaps, our dreams do not emanate from our fantasies.

If they do not originate in our fantasies, from where do they come? Maybe I should ask, which comes first, the vision or the dream? I have a vision of a scene and feel thrilled by it; it calls to me to save it. Don't let it die, because it has a life of its own. Does that vision morph into a dream and I act on it? I, therefore, start writing and fulfilling my dream. Is it the vision of the scene or the resulting dream that leads me to write?

Writing scenes is a pretty elemental part of writing fiction. In many ways, scenes are the heart and soul of fiction. They are the life of the story, the reason for everything. Everything the writer does is to make the scene come alive to the best of his ability. How does this relate to dreams? Visualizing scenes is a form of dreaming: lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a positive form of fantasizing. For me, lucid dreaming is the thrill of writing. How does this form of dreaming relate to the big dream, the dream of being a writer? I think it's pretty obvious, the one flows from the other. The dream of being a writer is birthed in our lucid dreaming, in the satisfaction, should I say joy?, of lucid dreaming.

Is it a form of wish fulfillment? Another question for another time.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A few of my paintings from this summer.

The use of color  in my paintings this summer was self-taught experimentation. I came up with the idea of basing some of my paintings on books. I based the following four paintings on the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyers.

Twilight (oil pastel on paper)

Eclipse (oil pastel on paper)

New Moon (oil pastel on paper)
Breaking Dawn (oil pastel on paper)

The following painting is based on a book by the religious mystic St. John of the Cross.

Dark Night of the Soul (soft pastel on paper)

This is an attempt to attain a three-dimensional effect in color.

Fish (soft pastel on paper)