An eternal love, an ancient enemy, an impossible choice…
Each of us lives two lives simultaneously: the one we put on when we enter this passing existence we call reality, and the one that is eternally ours. Throughout our lives, the paths of our separate selves cross occasionally and our current self might nod in acknowledgement to who she once was as if to an old acquaintance she can barely recall. As long as those contacts remain but a whisper of a memory, a dream we wake up from each morning, we manage to coexist in a single body. But it is a limited existence, this separateness from our true selves, this denial we are more than the reflection our physical eyes perceive in the mirror. Sometimes though the whispers, the memories, the reminders that come to us in dreams refuse to be silenced. It is then we must choose between the simple security of clinging to the belief our lives began but a brief count of days and years ago or awaken to the truth. We are more than this single world can hold. Our memories extend far back into a past we are barely capable of conceiving. Sometimes too we awaken to the knowledge we left unfinished business in the wake of our passing. We loved then. We made friends. We made enemies. It is these tasks left undone that haunt us today. It is the loves we lost and still long for and the enemies we fled who still hunt us.
Mary Kate is an ordinary teenager who assumes her dreams of a past lover are simply dreams and her nightmares of an ancient enemy who still stalks her are merely an unpleasant side effect of her vivid imagination. But the dreams won’t go away. They’re at once both better and worse than ever, more real, more seductive and more frightening. Her grandmother could help her. She knew about such things, but her advice Mary Kate must find her own way and discover her own truths wasn’t particularly comforting. Particularly when Mary Kate had no idea where to start finding her own way and she sensed she didn’t have much time. They were coming for her…ready or not…
The Story Behind Awakening:
A Voice Reawakened…
I always dreamed of being a writer. It seemed like the perfect career choice. Sell millions of books and make millions of dollars working whenever and wherever I wanted, doing exactly what I loved. It was a simple plan. I would control my own destiny and not have to worry about the rat race, childcare, or anyone else’s demands or deadlines but my own. It was a wonderful fantasy, but like so many of life’s most wonderful daydreams, the real world has a way of intruding upon dreams and stamping them out.
Still I didn’t give up without a fight. But after a few serious attempts and several dozen rejection letters my dream of becoming a best-selling author was slowly dying. The closest I came to a successful beginning was a request for the completed manuscript from a publisher, who unfortunately by the time I responded to the editor’s request, had merged with another, larger publishing house. I’m not sure why that was the final straw for me. Looking back it seems like an odd time to abandon my dream, just when I finally had a reason to hope. Perhaps I was already feeling the pressure of my other life, the one that existed beyond the voices in my imagination. For whatever reason, it was shortly after that experience I packed away my dream of becoming a best-selling author and decided I better find out what awaited me out in the real world. Some dreams die with a bang. Others with a whimper. Mine resembled the latter.
So I got on with the business of life. I started a career, got married, had children and assumed my writing days were behind me. Years passed and old dreams, never completely silenced, beckoned once again. This time I resisted. I was too busy. I was in the midst of a challenging career, guiding little minds and bodies into competent adulthood, caring for an aging parent. There was no time to indulge in daydreams again. Later. I would have more time later to play, but then I was consumed with work. Real work. The gritty kind of getting up each morning, getting kids off to school, working all day, carpools at night, off to soccer, softball, lacrosse games and finally to the assisted living facility on the weekends. Not only was I working, I was exhausted. Too exhausted to even think of writing again.
The urge became stronger. I ignored it. When I could squeeze in a few hours for myself I indulged in my other passion…reading. It was about then I discovered Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. I was introduced to the series so late I was able to read all four books within a few weeks without having to wait for the release date of each subsequent title. I remember reading her response to an interview question about how she came up with the idea for the story and she replied something along the lines of Bella and Edward being these voices in her head who would never shut up. I suspected putting their story down on paper was her way of exorcising the voices from her head.
I could relate to her predicament, and was relieved to discover someone else shared my own. The voice in my head was getting louder too. So far I was successfully ignoring it but it wasn’t going away, and knowing my mother (dearly departed by this point) it wasn’t going to go away.
I wasn’t particularly alarmed by the constant nagging. Given my somewhat unusual family background, hearing voices was to be expected. I was raised in a family of psychics, though only on my mother’s side. I was always the practical one. I had a job, a husband, three kids and a mortgage. I dabbled in but never fully embraced the woo-woo stuff.
But after the deaths of my mother, grandmother, aunt and older cousins I became increasingly aware I was the only one left to carry on the family tradition. I guess they figured that out earlier than I did. Hence the nagging. Some might refer to it as haunting, but they would be the innocent ones. Those who are firmly convinced life ends at death and there’s a definitive line between the two. The here and the here-after and rarely shall the two versions of the here’s intersect.
No surprise I finally succumbed to the pressure. My mother rarely asked me for anything, even in life. She’d pretty much left me alone to find my own way once she was gone, so it would have been pretty petty of me to refuse her request. I just didn’t know where to start. We were not talking about years of accumulated, hard-won knowledge, but life-times worth, generation upon generation, passed down mother to daughter, so much lost already along the way. I felt like one of those monks in the dark ages, tasked with the job of keeping alive the wisdom of the ancient world, in a time when the light of knowledge was rapidly fading.
My own assignment was not on so grand a scale, but it would be a terrible loss to just let my ancestors’ life work drift away into obscurity. An obscurity that would take life-times to recover from, to painstakingly gather again and preserve for future generations. I didn’t want to be the weak link in the chain. I didn’t want to be the one to break, not under the pressures they faced, but because I simply couldn’t be bothered.
So what was passed to me in secret, in years of conversations, in study and practice, I would write down and in doing so serve twin purposes…performing this service for the women who gave me so much, for the woman who gave me life, and for myself, to unlock the box I stuffed my dreams into so many years ago. I would write. I would preserve. I would give voice to my dreams and provide a voice for those whose voices have been silenced … at least to this world…
That’s The Thing About Voices…
Once you let one in it’s hard to shut the door on all of their friends. It’s like telling your teenager they could have a few friends over. All of a sudden there’s a hundred kids on your doorstep and you have no idea how you lost control of the situation.
My mother warned me about opening the door between this world and the next. Once opened it was not an easy door to slam shut again. There was no knowing and then unknowing. You could pretend to forget but it was hard to convince yourself of your own pretense. Trying to skirt along the edge of hallway open and halfway shut was a precarious position to be in. I can attest to the latter since I’ve spent most of my life skating along just such an edge.
But I digress. Once I made the commitment to pass along what I was taught, the voice in my head left me alone. Apparently the doing part was what was important to them, the how I chose to accomplish my part they were willing to leave up to me. It was a bit of a relief to hear only silence from the other side, and at the same time a bit lonely. Rather than write a serious study companion, I decided to indulge my love of fantasy and romance while fulfilling my mother’s request. Hence The Awakening.
My mother used to say she wished people understood being psychic was not all dark and scary. It was actually rather amusing at times. Being an optimist myself, and rather scared of the darker side of things, I prefer to focus on the light-hearted side of life beyond the veil. Of course there’s no completely getting around the good versus evil dilemma. It’s pretty much the central premise of all life, but I prefer to focus on the former as much as possible. So with fiction as my vehicle, I interlaced my memories within my story and satisfied my desires to both preserve my inheritance and indulge my imagination. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is which.
Of course many people believe it’s all fiction, that there is no life after this one. Imagine how surprised they’ll be when they go to sleep in this world and wake up in the next. I often wonder how long they’ll try to convince themselves they’re simply stuck in a dream they can’t figure out how to wake up from.
I figure one of the consolations of trying to keep track of two lives at once in this world, is the head-start on the transition into the next. I already tried convincing myself I must be imagining things. I already tried telling myself there’s no proof of a life beyond this one. But when you are confronted with what this world claims is impossible, and the evidence before your eyes is challenging that assertion, you have a choice to make. You can either try to convince yourself you are imagining what you are experiencing, or you can expand your view of what is possible. After years spent contorting yourself to ridiculous limits to convince yourself what you’re seeing is an illusion, you eventually give up the fight and accept the simpler explanation….life is more than our previously defined limits of it. Our experience of this world is only the smallest fraction of the life awaiting us beyond it.
Pen to Paper…
At least it was in my younger days. I suppose now there’s an expression about fingertips to the keyboard, but you get the idea. For me the hardest part isn’t getting started on a new project, be it a written one or any other kind. I usually start out pretty strong and then after the initial burst of energy and excitement my motivation falters. It’s usually slow going from there, with the occasional breakthrough intermingled through long periods of what more closely resembles real work rather than the fun I envisioned the project would be at the start.
So not surprisingly the initial chapters of my tribute to the women who were such an important part of my life started out at a quick clip. I chose to direct my novel to the young adult reader; mostly because that was the age I first began independently exploring my mother’s unusual interests. Plus it was important to my mother I leave a guide behind for her grandchildren. Since I still had teenagers in the house I wrote a story I hoped would appeal to them.
It was a relief to put down on paper the memories and stories that would otherwise be lost with my eventual passing. It was easy to incorporate them into a paranormal fantasy. I could share under the cloak of fiction my mother’s tarot card readings, crystal balls and séance’s. I could relate both the beauty and the fear of opening the door within…the one leading to eternity. And tell how it felt to pass through that gate, knowing it was an irrevocable step I could never undo.
That was one of my clearest memories of the beginning of my personal journey along the path leading to the eternal way. My mother cautioned me to be absolutely sure it was a door I wanted to open within me. There was a reason most of the world still slept. Ignorance was equated with bliss for a reason and with knowledge came great responsibility. As much as seeing through the veil separating the physical and spiritual worlds would be amusing and astonishing and wonderful at times, it also complicated one’s life. There were suddenly lots of balls to keep in the air at once, and a new previously inconceivable juggling between the demands of this world and those of the next.
So we both proceeded with extreme caution. Me, because I’m cautious by nature. My mother, because she didn’t want to impose a burden on my young shoulders I wasn’t capable of understanding until it was too late to turn back. Enlightenment in the flash of revelation is an experience reserved for the chosen few. For the rest of us, it is a long process, lifetimes of learning the wisdom of eternity while at the same time unlearning the ephemeral wisdom of this passing world.
As with anything else, I embraced my apprenticeship with a youthful enthusiasm. It was only very gradually, so slowly it was almost imperceptible, I became aware of the weight of new accountability settling over me. ‘First do no harm’ takes on new meaning when your focus is not only on the next several decades, but on the next several millennia. Karma could have unpleasant consequences and I didn’t want to risk becoming tangled up in its darker side.
By the time I began to understand what my mother was cautioning me about, I was long past the point of no return. Not that I didn’t attempt it a time or two. It’s rather laughable trying to turn your back on yourself, or to pretend you don’t hear the nagging voices inside your head. Still, it’s not impossible and there were long periods in my life of what I considered the almost normal phases. I imagined that was how other, normal people lived their lives. For me it was more like playing dress-up as a kid.
But as with any fantasy, it was impossible to sustain for long, certainly not forever. Some people would argue my life is the fantasy, and everyone else’s is the true nature of reality. That would be true for them. Just as my truth is true for me. One of the first things one learns along the path of enlightenment is what we believe to be true in this life is so often the exact opposite in eternity. Here, taking is equated with getting, in eternity giving breeds abundance. Here, there is separation and our differences so often define us. In eternity oneness and communion are what bring us joy.
You can begin to understand why the journey is so hard. Hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is. If you are starting from a place of hatred, at least there is the implication you care about something, or you still retain some feeling. Hate is only a stopping point on the path towards not caring at all. Evil simply waits for our indifference to catch up with it.
Seeking knowledge is harder. Striving is harder. Becoming more is harder. Enlightenment is not a path to be undertaken by the weak, for its challenges soon conquer the fickle-minded. I’m reminded of a passage I read in a book about the rewards of yoga. (I can’t remember which one or I would gladly give the author credit since the passage struck me so forcibly.) In it the author describes how a person walking by sees a yogi practicing on a river bank and how impressed the observer is by the yogi’s perfect form, how he seems to so effortlessly balance himself in the most complex postures. The witness thinks to himself how lucky the yogi is to be blessed with such natural flexibility, as if the perfection of his practice was simply a basket he retrieved from the river one day as he was passing by. When the truth of the matter was, the yogi’s near perfection was accomplished after only long years of study and practice.
People assume the same thing about the perfection of the spirit, as if enlightenment was a gift one could find simply lying unattended on the side of the road.
There is no end to the excuses we’re willing to make for ourselves.
Ignorance is bliss…
In ignorance, there is no need to even make excuses.