Cloud Atlas

Chocolates !!!

“Life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you’re gonna get.”
(Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump)

box of choclate

I was watching the movie “Cloud Atlas.”  It’s a strange, unusual movie I think.  It was difficult to patch the six-ages stories together so I started over from the beginning to get a foot hold on the events.  The first scene opens with Zachary (Tom Hanks), as an old man.  As he is thinking aloud I felt an image bubble up from my subconscious.  I saw us as chocolates in a box.  With each succeeding box we never knew who we were choosing to be.

It is a subconscious metaphor.  That happens once in a while when I am in a particular state of mind:   relaxed, intrigued, curious, mentally free but striving to understand.  As I listened to Zachary’s monologue that is a review of his present life, I thought of my friend who wants to die and whose family is angrily struggling to keep her alive.  She has been telling me about her method of slow suicide which she hopes will go undetected by her family and doctors.  In the middle of this reverie I saw the chocolates.  I wondered about the connection.  Then I felt it – our unawareness of truth most of the time – what Zachary calls “The True True”.  We think this box we fill is all there is.  We don’t see beyond it into the distant future and then beyond that.  We don’t reverie about the distant past and beyond that.  We think, and believe, that this life’s pains and joys are the true-true.

Zachary, year 2350

Zachary, year 2350

But when I had a glimpse of the box with its chocolates I feel the surreality of life on this planet.  We come here, we leave here, we come here, we leave here.  It was an ingenious idea to use the same actors playing people who interconnect with each other in each new age.   The heavily scarred Zachary feels an excruciating pain when he witnesses, some years before, the violent deaths of his brother-in-law and nephew, but we have seen him before over and over like God sees us.  And we know that his life is not what it seems to him.

The chocolates will be eaten.  Then a new box will appear with new chocolates.  For a moment I was looking down on this box from above as I imagine God and the angels do.  This ‘knowing’, as my sister-in-law describes it, benefits me when I get caught up in a thinking that is a believing that this time is all there is and every choice matters and every outcome matters.  I have difficulty with making decisions because of my upbringing where any mistake was met with derision and drama.  I have difficulty letting go of things that I feel I cannot live without.  But this is a fog that I create because of my belief that my place in this box — that is my present life — is all there is.  In a way, each decision and outcome do matter but only to the extent that they walk out of the past and travel into any of an infinite number of futures which I will eventually be a part of again.

If you have read any of my earlier weblogs you know that I feel a special connection to the Universe.  So as I was writing this I received a phone call from my brother’s wife.  We rarely talk (though we enjoy it when we do) but only because neither of us reaches out very often.  So as I am in this surreal place the Universe has nudged her to call me to work out a problem she was having with my brother and their oldest daughter.  We talked for hours – it takes us a long time to run out of things to say and an ear to listen.  The topic was exactly what I had received from the movie.    We talked about conscious and subconscious motivations, family history, emotional and relational difficulties, and trying to make the present make sense and secure a good future.

And none of this would have happened as it did if I had not woken up with a pain in my knee that was causing me to lay in bed with my leg on a pillow and watching this movie, Cloud Atlas.

There are forces at work that we cannot perceive because we cannot help but limit ourselves mentally and emotionally to our box.


ps:  it is now August 21, 2013, and I am happy to say that my friend has given up her suicide attempt.

Reply: How free is Free Will?

I wrote this reply to MAL at My Atheist Life  – “My World View – Free Will”

This is one of the things I am passionate about and I’m glad her blog gave me a jumping off point to explain something that I think is very important.

She describes free will as decisions that people are constantly making, and I disagree with her…

But check her blog out for yourself.

My World View – Free Will

Feb 10, 2013

Hello Reader,

How about this idea of free will.  It exists, but humans rarely exercise it.  Free will is not the same as decisions, but it is a form of a specific type of decision.  I base this argument on the survival drive that exists in all life forms from the amoeba on up.  I love amoeba’s, they are fascinating to watch when they test out objects in their environment to find out if they are either food or predator.  Humans do the same thing.  This is not free will. This is the drive to survive.

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Mindfulness & Cognitive Restructuring Exercises

Cognitive Restructuring Exercises to Improve Your Mood and Reduce Stress

Alice Boyes

Jon Kabat-Zinn

How Cognitive Behavior Change improves my quality of life.

I have had many different experiences with different mental health therapies.  Within CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) is something called Mindfulness.  By far it has been the most helpful method for retraining my mind.

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Poem: Twenty Years

Twenty years (is not long enough)

Our tall handsome man stands outside the casino –
.     his job is to welcome the guests as they pull up
.             in their shiny new cars.

An ancient pick-up truck slows to a tired stop,
.    the old expressionless driver slowly rolls down his window
.              for a chat.

“I’m going to see your mother…
.        wanna come?”

“Sorry, I can’t today –  maybe some other time.”

with a nod from the driver – the well-worn truck rolls away.

“So what was that about?     What did your father want?”
.          his fellow hostess asks him.

Oh… he’s going to the cemetery to visit
.        my mother’s grave.

.                   She died twenty years ago

.                                 and my father has never moved on.


What this poem means to me:

Around 2003 or 2004 a TV show scene  inspired me.  I wrote this poem 7 years later.    I saw this scene while channel surfing about one and a half years after my husband’s death.  The scene had a special meaning for me and I had an epiphany.  I felt as though the Universe was communicating a message to me –  “This will be you in twenty years if you don’t find a way out of your grief.”

Sound crazy that people on TV were talking directly to me?    Sorry if you think that, but I don’t put any limits on how God and the Universe send messages.  I was watching a lot of TV in those days, so getting a message through that medium makes sense to me.

Fortunately I felt no doubt that I was being told something important.    I wrote this poem in March, 2011 after I’d recovered and was alive again.

Why I chose “Glad to Be Alive”

January 26, 2013    Saturday morning

Hello.  Perhaps you wonder why I have chosen my blog name Glad To Be Alive.  It’s not as obvious as you might think.  Perhaps there are a lot of people who feel this way.  I just have not been among them until very recently.  I’ve been depressed, angry, and frustrated… about being here.  I’ve become cynical about people.  Frankly these things have not changed (much).  But one thing has, I’ve become simply glad about being alive.  And it has nothing to do with any of those other feelings.  It’s not a happy feeling, just an appreciation.  It feels like balance and it feels deep.

I was walking from Sprouts Grocery Store to my car when I noticed how my face was feeling.  I could feel my frown and I was looking at the ground.  I don’t know what came over me, but something did.  I had an epiphany – a spiritual realization.  I did not have to see that moment in that way.  I could be glad, not sad, about just being there, about just walking, about just moving, about just breathing, seeing, feeling the ground with my feet, the sun on my hair.  I could brighten up my expression and lift my vision up.  See what was in front of me.  I didn’t have to feel happy, just glad, to be alive.

My sister is a WordPress blogger (A Christian Overcomer) who has about a hundred followers.  She and I talk about what life’s about.  We grew up hearing our parents talk this way.  She’s interesting and she says I’m interesting.  She wanted me to write some of the things I share only with her.  But I couldn’t do it without a name that represents my current approach to life which is what this weblog will be about.  And I could not come up with one until several days ago.  I woke up and a minute later I heard this name and I knew it was the right one.  So then I knew it was time to start writing a weblog.  It’s funny how things seem to work out.  Sometimes I just know when the time is right.

If you read my weblog and then my sister’s – we are identical twins fifty-eight years old – you might notice how differently we seem to approach our lives.  But there is something deeper that is the same.  We both want to find what’s true.  Her truth is often superficially different from mine, but really I don’t think it is fundamentally different.