Merry Christmas from Me to You, You and All of You…

Fa la la la, ha ha ha muhahahaha! ‘Tis Christmas Eve and all the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future are in the aether and haunting my brethren’s beautifully decorated Christmas tree. (The Ghost of Christmas Future Perfect will have arrived by the time I finish writing this timely blogpost.) Altogether, I feel that there’s some irrational, uncanny spirit upon me and am experiencing the realisation that “Whoa! I’m in the midst of Christmas ritual!

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'Tis the season! Have a cup of good cheer…

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It’s all happening: Doodling up Christmas cards; Watching Christmas movies; Rocking out in celebratory style to ebullient party metal and Christmas tunes; Going to a Nine Lessons and Carols service and having minor crises (I can’t settle on one key when I’m singing and struggle to work out how my Zen Buddhist principles fit with this Christian festival).

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and the rituals will continue: gift-giving; gift-receiving (I like socks); videogames and board games with my lovely relatives; feasting on sprouts; cleaning up all the greasy pots and cutlery that my lovely relatives have left for someone (me) to tidy up. That’s what my Christmas looks like every year and it’s always nice. I’m now going to go and enjoy that very typical and very nice Christmas, taking a conscious moment to: be with my blood-clan, be present, be (semi)relaxed and be grateful as I meditate on the good stuff amidst the bleak (erm, unseasonably mild) midwinter.

I hope that your Christmas is, likewise, lovely. If you’re finding things hard, this article on being depressed at Christmas is a good and possibly helpful read. Otherwise, take care of yourselves and each other and take the opportunity to reach out to your fellow humans and realise that, if anything, this holiday is all about reconnecting with the best of the human spirit. The best of the human spirit is within you and you’ve been working too hard, handling too much stress and you deserve a break and warm fuzzies. Yes, I’m talking to you, you and all of you. And that thing too. I have no idea what that is but I’m going to invite it in, feed it roast parsnips and dance with it.

Allora, enough! Christmas! The spirit is upon me and I’ll now spirit away. (There are greasy pots to wash and gifts to wrap in ham-fisted fashion.) All my festive best wishes, thanks for reading and have an excellent Christmas… 😀

 

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Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Restless Spirit’…

Alrighty, I’m a bit restless and nervous-excited. “You should write something, man!” I said to myself, and that part of myself was thinking right because writing is a righteous and an effective way to deal with nervous-excited restlessness. It’s also a good idea when you’re trying catch up with a personal writing challenge. The personal writing challenge I’m trying to catch up with is John Steele‘s monthly Pictonaut, and that’s all about turning an inspiral image into some kind of story/fiction bit. I’m now up to December (last month) and December’s chosen image was this beautiful piece of work by artist Joshua Hutchinson

‘Soul Ascending’ by Joshua Hutchinson…

I like this piece (title: ‘Soul Ascending’) and thought I could go off and do something shamanic (or ‘Noveau Shamanic’ if I’m looking to channel Nicolas Cage). Unfortunately (?), I went and saw Wild last night and am preoccupied with my upcoming trip to Italy, so that affected the kind of tale I wished to tell. I’m thinking about journeys and the idea of journeys being opportunities (or, indeed, the means) to find yourself or find some spiritual truth. I really like and believe in that, but this little flash of fiction I’ve spawned is a bleaker, more downbeat affair. Instead, it’s more about being lost and unable to settle (physically, mentally and spiritually). I saw something a bit tragic in the image, so quickly knocked up a thing titled ‘Restless Spirit‘ that I hope doesn’t bleak you out too much. Make of it what you will by clicking on this link to read it, while I go about preparing for travel so I can find myself/find something else/find spiritual truth…

Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘Blissful Existence Beneath the Meru Mountain Complex, Brought to You By Moksha-Co. International’…

Say, I think it’s time I shared some science fiction visions. Yes, I shall, because I have sci-fi visions but I’ll come to those in a second. First, let me break down some details and set up the framework on which I will stick some ideas and sticky creative writing bits…

Here’s what happens: every month, the most excellent Generalissimo John Steele sets a short story writing challenge. This is the Pictonaut challenge and the gist is “See this image? Write something inspired by it, around a thousand words in length, okay?” It is okay and I do this every month because I like a challenge and it’s a nice creative exercise that sometimes yields interesting results. April’s Pictonaut image was particular interesting and really stimulated my mind. The chosen inspiral picture was a piece titled Relay by the artist Steve Renn

A high-priest of hi-tech by Steve Renn…

I like this picture and it speaks to me (and it speaks in an eerie hushed whisper). It has science fiction and it has a figure meditating and thus it combines technology with spirituality and grooves with a lot of topics I’m fascinated by and that I debate with myself. Occasionally, I try and write about these topics to articulate all those inner philosophical dialogues – like in last week’s Den of Geek column on Transcendence and the notional uploading of human consciousness into the non-organic state of an artificial intelligence.

Coming back to the challenge at hand, though, this month’s Pictonaut challenge gave me a chance to ruminate on these things that concern me and attempt to distill ’em into a blast of flash fiction. I have difficult dilemmas. Conundrums like: ‘Can technology improve our wellbeing and elevate us to a more enlightened, advanced state, mind, body and soul?‘; ‘Can I harmoniously follow Zen Buddhist philosophies and function in the modern materialist world?‘; ‘Do technological self-help and wellbeing solutions commodify the human soul?‘; ‘Will there ever come a time when transcending mundane existence and the suffering of this world and the past and so on becomes more imminently achievable for regular folk?‘ There are more but I’ll spare you and save ’em up for face to face convserations because spending all this time staring at a computer screen and asking the indifferent artificial face of the internet all these techsistential questions is turning into a dehumanising downer…

So then, sci-fi and some thoughts around technology and spirituality. In the end, my Pictonaut effort for April 2014 is more of an exploration of an idea – a speculative utopian/dystopian vision – than an actual story. Feel free to read it and see what you think. I hope it stimulates you in some way and I’ll leave it to you to appreciate as you see fit – here is the short creation that I’ve titled Blissful Existence Beneath the Meru Mountain Complex, Brought to You By Moksha-Co. International