Once again unintentionally prompted and stimulated at First 50 Words – Prompts for Writing Practice. I wasn’t intending to write anything, but my response was elicited from me by the sincere Intent of the site:
When we went through the backpack of the dead woman we found under the bridge, there
was nothing there but dog-eared copies of stolen library books. She had no ID, no clothing, nothing but books. The Harry Potter books and “A Wrinkle in Time” appeared to be her favourites, judging by the amount of use they showed. Did she have a shopping cart or some other belongings somewhere that contained more practical survival gear? I went down to the homeless camp near the railroad tracks to ask around.
“…the Book Lady, oh no,” a bright-eyed man from the homeless camp was saying. He sounded disappointed, but not stricken. “Yes, I’ve seen her around. Never spoke to her. Always immersed in a book.” He possessed an air of immense enjoyment. Not at that particular moment, but generally, intimating he was having the adventure of his life. “She wore good clothes, not from around here. She had a Grace to her. She wasn’t graceful, but there was a distinct Grace to her.” I could hear the capitalised Grace.
He turned those eyes to me, “You have it too.” I stopped. I’d not been moving, but I stopped. The camp faded from awareness, as did the dead Book Lady, as did my inquiry, as did everything else except the concept of Grace. “Me?” My sole concern contracted on grasping this treasure. Ashamedly, somewhat, I now confess, but no, I take that back. There had been More, so much More going on. I tried to focus on the concept: Grace.
Grace but not graceful. No-one would attempt calling my oversized bulkiness graceful. Yet I had Grace. So complete was my immersion I did not even question Mr. Bright Eyes. I had absorbed his assertion. Completely. It was a revelation. His distinction between graceful and Grace had made it real to me.
Internally, I felt the transformation begin. I’d been pricked just so. Disregarding the obvious, I focused on what it could possibly mean. Grace… such a word. I was rough, loud, enthusiastic. I looked deeply into things, yes, always focused on something, yes. I tried to think beyond the obvious, yes. But Grace? I realised I had accepted his statement. I wasn’t questioning. I was looking for confirmation. Dangerous in my line of work. Something I assiduously avoided. Yet here I was, embroiled in establishing a proof, no, correction, I was verifying. Remarkable.
Mr. Be, no, Mr. B, as I now thought of him, still encompassed with his eyes. He took me in.
I knew this was a Moment. A Universal Moment. One of those Moments loosed from eternity, containing opportunity. Opportunity for change, great change, life change. I sobered to alert. Refusing the concerns and distractions of the everyday a foothold to the Moment. I repelled their efforts to distract me, to force me off the Moment. I marshalled my reserves, resolving to put all that aside and change, there and then. Universal Moments are an inordinate gift. I had a responsibility to fly my Moment all the way. Wherever it may lead.
“Well?” Mr. B inquired. More like pondered, or surmised, perhaps reflected. So much intent infused that simple “Well?” This enticing morsel would have to wait. As intriguing as he was, as pressing as the mystery of the Book Lady’s death was, they would have to wait. I had my Moment to deal with. My Universal Moment. I consciously recognised it! I recognised it Now. The discovery of this thrilled me. I had vowed and resolved long ago to be able to know such a Moment when it came. I had wanted that ability fiercely. And now, here it was.
Grace. Focus on the Grace, I reminded myself. Grace is the key. Not Grace itself, but Grace in you. You possessing Grace. Grace, not graceful. I reintegrated the elements of the Moment. Locking them into my existence. These Moments are often infused with a nebulous dream-like quality. If I didn’t make the effort to fully connect to the core elements, they might vaporise once I emerged from the immersion. The “Well?” was still in my ear.
“I’m scrambling to assimilate,” came out. “No, not assimilate, integrate…” An eyebrow rose ever so faintly. The subtlest of suggestions challenging me to continue. “That isn’t accurate either.” I paused, utilising the Power of the Pause to its fullest. “Incorporate!” Yes, I did exclaim. It was a true exclamation from my depths. Incorporate was exactly what I was doing. To the fullest extent of the word. I wasn’t only taking in the idea and concept of Grace, of Grace and me, of Grace as being part of me, of Grace being me, I was letting it Be me. I was consciously and deliberately taking the concept, the gift, and bestowing it upon myself. Ingesting it into my body. I wanted to remember, I wanted to Be. I wanted Grace to be in my bones, in my fibre, literally and figuratively. I was intent on becoming Grace, fully. I recognised what he had said. Yes, I had to acknowledge, I had it too. But having it and being it were two very different things. Having Grace without Being Grace was a waste, a shame.
“Was she Grace? Or did she merely imply it?” I asked about myself. His eyes flared with intensity. I was inside him now. He Paused. I could see it happen. Before he even started, he paused. Taking stock. Taking care to fully integrate and explore all of the extrapolations my questions had stimulated. He wanted to reply in the full context of my questions. He wanted to reply me, not reply to me, but reply Me. He did not hurry. He made no effort to take any potential discomfort, impatience or pressure from me into cognisance. He merely did what the Moment necessitated. He recognised it as well. I waited. No, waiting implies an awareness of time passing. I was on pause. I could wait forever for his reply. Time wasn’t an issue. His eyes penetrated me.
“You… Can… Be… Grace.” He said it slowly, distinctively, emphasising each word. As if to impress the words upon my Being. “Yes,” I humbly acknowledged. This was no time for dancing. We were at the Heart of Things. Inside the vortex. I nearly said, “But what does it mean?” I checked myself, smiled. Delving inside to rephrase. I re-purposed my Intent. What exactly did I need to know? Precisely what did I need? I understood and agreed I could be Grace. I could bring it into my Way-of-Being. That was not the problem. What then? Ah, I needed a clearer picture of Grace. I realised I could not Be, I could not incorporate, what I didn’t have a firm grasp of. As I transitioned to elaborating on the concept of Grace, this came to me:
“Rule190: *The more we look for Grace the more we see it, the more we express Grace, the more we Live it. We Can nurture Grace, cultivate Grace. Enough cannot be said about the Awesomeness of Grace. Living in a State of Grace…..this is a Worthy Ideal.”
Where I had seen it I couldn’t say. There had been many more like it, on other topics. This one on Grace had resonated deeply. My recall, while always good, was now flawless. It was the Power of the Moment. There was more; Alternate Expressions of the Rule. I remembered having liked this aspect, looking at something from multiple angles to get a clearer view. It was integral to how I did my job.
“Look for Grace, See Grace,
See Grace, Live Grace,
Live Grace, Become Grace.”
“Paying attention to Grace brings it into our lives.”
“An element of Grace can be found anywhere, nurtured anywhere.”
“If we just look, we can find that thread of Grace, and follow it, and pretty soon we find ourselves enveloped by Grace.”
Ah yes. I remembered how it had resonated at the time. I had so loved it. Why had I not thought to apply it to myself? Something had evidently stuck. It was just taking time to work into my system. “Yes,” Mr B stated. He had seen the Awareness infuse my eyes. He knew something had transpired internally. He didn’t press, an explanation would be appreciated. Only if it would assist the process. No detours to be made on his behalf. I marvelled at how these perceptions were so clear. They weren’t foreign to me. I was familiar with this shade of insight. It was part of how I did my job so well. Reading the nuance of people was something I had spent a great deal of time studying and practising. But this level of clarity and assuredness was new. I was always somewhat sceptical of my perceptions, always took them as only being possible, until verified. But now I knew, I Knew they were solid.
Mr. B was still there. No hurry, no pressure. There had been more to that memory. It almost seemed as if he knew and was waiting. Ah yes, in another column, an extended perspective on the Rule. I quoted for him, not exactly sure how I was able to:
“Grace is so deep, so complex. It encompasses everything. Grace includes an element of power, harmony, fluidity, connectedness, purity, beauty. Grace can be gracious and soothing, or fluid and exhilarating. It can be a profound feeling of joy, and also of peace. But it is much more than any of these, much much more. It is a State-of-Being, a connected State-of-Being, a State-of-Being connected to everything. A state from which we know the marvellousness, the awesomeness, the goodness, the rightness and the exquisiteness of everything. Grace runs Deep.”
Mr B sighed. A deep sigh of contentment. A sigh of absorption. He was enveloping what I had said. Allowing it to invigorate him. He smiled gloriously, revelling in the Joy and Grace. Yes, revelling. He as positively dancing within. He was celebrating me, I realised. What a gift. There had been something more I remembered. The Rules and the other expressions of them had been organised in columns. There had been a column at the end that had particularly grabbed me. It was unpretentiously labelled: “How does this Rule make a difference?”
I looked at Mr B and repeated what it had so simply stated: “It Waters Grace until it Flowers.”
He nodded, making the connection.
I had Flowered.
After recording the reading of this writing, also known as The Grace Story, I reflected on my Process. I’m constantly fascinated by the how of connecting to the More within. This particular creation somewhat different to most which come from me. Typically I write for myself alone, and to the Universe. But, with this communication of the intimate connection to my characters, to my intents, to the complexities which are my internal world, I was myself grabbed by somewhat of a Universal Moment. However, contrary to expectation, such immersion and inspiration does not mean we’re devoid of volition. Actually the opposite. One is flooded with so much, so much to choose from. Usually we simply allow the flow, perhaps guiding and channelling what comes. However, additional processing is an option, especially if our pre-thought is particularly defined, allowing us to layer much which is then fine-tuned, honed, selected, added, emphasised, implied, connected and more.
With this story, there’s much particular layering. I remember, even amidst the profusion of influx, clear and distinct Intents I wished to express and communicate in the sharing surfaced, allowing me to select and implement additional complexity. Principally, subtlety and sophistication, Awareness, lack of assumption. I wished to illustrate depth of perception founded on insight and discernment, where these had been a habit, but coalescing into revelation, as the accumulation reached illumination mass. I intended to elucidate going beyond the ordinary and the expected. A big deal to me. To this end my Intent was focused on the More of Grace. How its graceful aspect is a reflection or expression, how it’s not religious, how it’s a State-of-Being. How Grace is transcendent in its many manifestations. How Grace is a Lifeblood of Life.
Other layers of my Intent were most specifically geared to crafting this writing in such a way there’d be opportunity to side-step Assumption. The prompt sets the scene for a typical murder mystery. But to me, the challenge of writing prompts is to *Not* go in the direction indicated or implied. To take a turn into the unexpected. A turn which takes us where we don’t expect to go, a turn which nonetheless connects and follows from the story. My challenge is to fold that turn back into the provided beginning. To make the unexpected a surprise and revelation without unrealistic contrivance.
I wrote my characters with this in mind. In addition, I layered onto them the possibilities for not meeting the preconceptions which typically we unthinkingly associate, simply because of context.
My lead character, most likely a detective. And right there an assumption. Others look for missing people besides detectives. For instance, insurance, welfare, lawyers, and of course, family or friends. Nowhere in the story does it state my main character is a detective, by design.
Then there’s gender. From the context, if we assume the central character is a detective, the usual assumption defaults to a man. Why? This I aimed to address, subtlely. Why assume she’s a man? I wrote the character specifically as a woman. I include a line which is seemingly ambiguous as to pointing out gender. But it’s only so if the central character is assumed to be male.
Mr. B is likewise layered. The homeless camp is mentioned. And again there’s an assumption Mr B is homeless, despite many clues he might not be. If he were homeless, which perhaps he might be, he would certainly be a most incongruous homeless person. No, it’s far more likely if all the facts are put together, Mr. B is something else. A charity worker perhaps. An adventurer who happens to be there for a while. He could be a researcher, scientist, psychologist or philosopher doing field studies. This is not as far-fetched as one might assume. From personal experience, not at all.
Simply because something is common, does not make it so all the time. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred everything is fine, but then the hundredth time comes along and kills one for assuming. This habit of assuming what seems obvious is devastating. I see people live their entire lives doing so. They never check their assumptions. The most treacherous of these is the assumption their assumptions are valid, which locks them into a self-confirming loop. A bubble of self-generated restrictive perception.
Sadly those assumptions are so often wholly inaccurate and even downright incorrect. But that Bubble-of-Perception prevents truth or alternate perspectives from penetrating. The incongruities and unpleasant consequences are inevitably ascribed to unrelated factors. Particularly “bad luck” and the mal-intent of others, when it’s nothing of the sort, simply sloppy thinking and faulty assumptions. All because of the inability to imagine there may be More than the typical, More than the familiarities of convention. Life can be missed with such limitations-of-belief, and tragically is, by far too many.
“Look for more, find More.” – B
I love love love multi-layering. It’s present in everything, and pretty much in everything I do and experience. Once one connects to the layers, it’s exciting indeed. 3D Living! While my story takes the expected path of the prompt and veers sharply away, the layers *are* a detective story, but not a usual one. The detection is of subtlety, the detection is of assumption and expectation within, of bias and prejudice, also uncovering the profound, the sophisticated sublime ever present within the supposed mundane.
I enjoy providing implied More, which if extrapolated and investigated, connect to mini-worlds of endeavour, and derive pleasure imagining all the alternative scenarios which could fit the facts of the story. There are many, since I deliberately did not make anything categorical. Much like Grace itself, the layered elements of the story are difficult to define exactly. And as Always there’s More, not mentioned, TakeAways could reveal further layers…
“The World is not merely a reflection of our petty selves. There’s glorious Difference, a window to expanding our little universes.” – Fine Noble
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