Heroic Mirror: On Writing

September 12, 2018

After deciphering the runes on the ancient papyrus, the hero realized he was holding instructions on how to write the story of his own quest.

 

There is one brilliant moment when you hear the call to adventure and everything changes. It is the kairos, a rip in normal time. You are illuminated. A wise new theory transforms the previous age of ignorance. Everything not part of this birth trauma will be categorized by whether it falls before or after the moment when everything changed.

 

You are able to atone, and your guilt is marked and reinforced by your unwillingness to do so. The jewel is cursed and needs to be reset in a new crown. Had you not come of age yet, you would be innocent of responsibility for it. Since you are able to fix it, ignoring it partially constitutes your guilt and reveals your mangled conscience to others.

 

Your quest is determined by fate and cannot be changed. Anything part of your quest will call you. Anything not part of your quest will annoy or distract you from the real projects on your list. There is a two-headed troll under the bridge, and there is something you are supposed to do—or not do—with it. Guessing incorrectly will be a fount of misery.

 

Who you are at any moment is distinct from your narratives of your past and future. Your memories revise themselves. Your hopes and fears change, too. Past and future are illusions. What is real, right now, in the center of your being, is something else, something the mind tries its hardest to look away from minute by minute. And if you lived from that nearly invisible center? If you saw the water you’re swimming in? If you accepted whatever is happening right now without telling a different story?

 

Your story makes itself useful by shining a light on reality. Others experience the utility of your light as beauty. Any words that lighten loads and calm complaints are words radiant to receive. Live purposefully, and others will call you handsome.

 

When you touch the universal core, everything you say about that experience is true and the opposite of your statement is also true.

 

To test this last statement, he held the papyrus up to a mirror, and she saw that the opposites were indeed true.

 

When you touch the universal core, you are able to distinguish truth from falsehood.

 

The story wades pointlessly out of camp to investigate the darkness. The beauty found there may reveal something someone can use. People usually seek usefulness in the everyday, yet it is sublime beauty they really crave, and maybe their appreciation of the sublime will prove to have a purpose.

 

Who you are at any moment is identical to your narratives of your past and future. Right now, you are thinking about who you once were and who you might become. You are the sum total of these thoughts. There is no authentic self.

 

Whether an obstacle grounds your quest or distracts from it is determined by your attitude toward it. There is a two-headed troll under the bridge. If you’re busy, dance around it. If you’re fascinated, talk to it. These are both valid paths. Change your approach and you change your quest.

 

You are willing to atone, and your guilt is marked and reinforced by your inability to do so. The cursed jewel needs to be removed from the crown, but attempting this with your heavy tools and large hands will fracture it beyond repair. What you cannot do frustrates you. To see guilt in yourself or another is to see those limits. If you could fix and reinterpret the transgression and realign your sense of self, as you so badly want to do, you would no longer seem defined by guilt.

 

Your call to action is ongoing. It is not a moment. It is woven of attitudes and assumptions threaded through a potentially endless tale where the question keeps asking itself, where the young spout frivolous theories that are never accepted by the wise, and where nothing ever really changes.

 

 

 

Tucker Lieberman’s poems have appeared in Snakeskin, Defenestration, and his collections Wild Mushrooms and Brújulabeja. His forthcoming book, Painting Dragons, examines castrated villains in fiction. He is married to the science fiction writer Arturo Serrano. They live in Bogotá, Colombia.

 

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