Can You Spot the Optimistic Takeaways from A Christmas Carol?

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The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, I hop on the light rail and travel to the Denver Center for Performing Arts to see A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens. For two glorious hours, me and a hundred or so other avid theatre goers put our gadgets away, sit in the dark and allow ourselves to be transported to the streets of Victorian London. We marvel at the tale written over two centuries ago by a master storyteller. We are transfixed by our fellow human beings who act out the classic story just as our ancestors have done for generations.

Two little girls – I would guess nine or ten years old – sat in back of me. They were appropriately shocked and appalled during the scene in which two business men come to ask Scrooge to donate to the poor. He refuses to give any money stating that those badly off must go to London’s horrible workhouses and prisons.

“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

“if they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

 My Three Optimistic Takeaways from A Christmas Carol

The First– It gives me great encouragement we can still be appalled by dreadful behavior in this age of internet trolls and ugly politics. Or, at least, our youth can be.

The Second– Scrooge’s transformation from a selfish old curmudgeon into a loving and giving person is proof positive anyone can have a change of heart. It is never too late to be a better person

The Third– Dickens reminds us no matter how hard change is or how much they are ridiculed, people of courage will still work toward a greater good. These positive changes benefit each and every one of us.

“Some people laughed to see the alterations in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset…”

If you are working toward change, I hope this post has been a gift of encouragement to you. Stay the course. Never give up. You are worth the effort.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.

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That Four Letter Word

There are many rungs on the publishing ladder. Boy is it ever tough to lift yourself up to the next rung. Sometimes you climb them with ease only to fall back down again with bloodied knees and wounded pride.

You spend months or years ripping the story out of your brain. Then you fork out hundreds of dollars to give the book to an editor who rips it apart. This is the stage you begin to question your life choices about being a writer. Eleven run-throughs of the manuscript later, you start sending the story out to agents and editors. The rejection letters fill up your inbox. You hold on, because you have faith in this thing you created. Finally you get a nibble. They want to publish your book! Woo Hoo! Cool. Great. Let the waiting begin.

A year passes without a word. One day you get the heads up your book will be released in two months time. BTW – you have some editing to do! Several stressful nights and days filled with giddy anticipation pass. Finally, the day comes when your book is released to the public. Hooray! You wait for the readers to stampede the bookstore (brick and mortar or virtual), but they don’t come in droves. Instead, the thunderstorm of love turns out to be a slight drizzle.

Why climb the ladder at all? Do we do it out of stubborn pride? Are we driven by some unseen force to share our creative gifts? Or is it simply brain damage? I think it boils down to one little word. Though small in stature, this tiny word has a whole lot of power. That word is HOPE.

hope

HOPE kindles the flames of possibility in our hearts. It is a siren’s call to every dreamer on the planet. Against all rational thought or impossible barriers, HOPE keeps us putting one foot in front of the other.

What is the source of this magic? YOU! Think about what you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t matter how much achievement you’ve had in your career so far. You are a source of inspiration for someone who hasn’t reached your rung on the publishing ladder yet. Someone is watching you (not in a creepy way) and admiring the determination you’ve shown in reaching your goals.

Next time you’re attending a writers conference, be mindful of your conversations with those who ask your advice. Are you being an encourager? Or are you unintentionally squashing someone else’s HOPE?

Are We on the Verge of the Next Great Mental Shift?

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The premiere of COSMOS with Neil deGrasse Tyson (First aired on FOX March 9, 2014) really got my brain cells clicking. Phenomenal cinematography aside, it was the story of Giordano Bruno that impacted me the most. In a time where the entire world was convinced the Sun revolved around the Earth, Bruno wrote about a crazy idea he had of an Infinite Universe where the Earth revolved around the Sun. He was suggesting we were not really the center of the Universe. The society of the day vehemently disagreed and was frightened by his theories. It eventually led to his imprisonment for eight years and ultimately his execution.

There have been a great many monumental mental shifts throughout history by the great and like-minded thinkers of our species. It’s impossible to list them all. Galileo, Copernicus, De Vinci, Confucius, Aristotle, Marie Curie, Bell, Margaret Mead, Einstein, Gandhi, Steve Jobs (think about it), the list goes on. These great thinkers or “Change Agents” stood against the fearful establishments of their day. They effected change for our species despite the risks, hardships and even certain death to pull the rest of us one rung up the growth ladder.

In our world today, technology is taking us to places we couldn’t reach before. The world and all of its cultures are available at our fingertips. We are now able to better understand each other. It opens our minds to new possibilities only knowledge and fresh understanding can promote. Does this mean we are on a verge of the next great mental shift? I believe it does.

What do I mean by “mental shift”? Let’s go back to Bruno. He and other like-minded individuals refused to believe society’s view that the Sun revolved around the Earth. The old point of view seems silly to our modern, science-based knowledge. Back then it was gospel. A more current example: our ability to send large amounts of data (text, picture, voice) around the world through tiny fibers in a matter of seconds (Depending on your internet provider).

Changes in Scientific Theory – While some well-known scientists still are holding firm, String Theory has been called into question by others. Alternate lines of research are starting to sprout up like Biocentrism, Dr. Lanza’s concept which suggests Biology should replace Physics in foundational science. According to his book, this new concept leans toward supporting the beliefs of the Eastern Religions. I’m reading the book now. It has some thought altering ideas.

Speaking of Religion – The world has become a smaller place. People from distant lands with different religious beliefs and philosophies have moved into towns half a world away. They share with the locals, giving Miss Small Town an opportunity to choose a different belief system which may fit her personal outlook.  Hatred of “those people” who believe differently than the locals in the small town, diminishes. These strangers aren’t strangers anymore. They’re neighbors who just happen to worship differently. We learn tolerance for the sake of harmony.

I think one of the finest examples of a modern day Change Agent is constantly in the news. There has been a major mental shift for a centuries old religion, one I’d never thought to see in my lifetime. This mental shift has been brought about by one man, Pope Francis. He’s loved by those who don’t classify themselves as part of his religion. He frustrates and worries those who, I believe, view him as the supreme head of the church. Can he bring about a mental shift for the largest and most powerful Christian Church in the world? I have hope he can.

Final Thoughts:  Our world is a place of infinite possibilities. Attitudes are shifting. Friends that were once enemies share ideas. The plight of faraway places have become real to the average person. That person has the ability to effect change for those in a distant land with the click of a mouse.

Chaos often foreshadows change. Leaders entrenched in the old ways, fight against the new to continue their way of life. Storms of conflict blanket nations, organizations and cities. Growing pains are inevitable when we develop as a species, but it’s time to explore with the new tools and awareness we’ve been given. If we look past the storm clouds, we see a horizon full of hope.