Arrival, A Beautiful Movie
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Arrival, A Beautiful Movie

Arrival, a beautiful movie

The movie opens with a reverie about time and memory, set in a scene of love, the love a mother feels for her child, and loss. The images fade. Louise, a professor of languages, goes to her university to teach. The students are mesmerized by news on their laptops: twelve shell-shaped black space ships have landed around the world. This happens with slow and quiet dread, not with bombast. Louise is tapped by the military to try to communicate with the aliens.

There follows a thoughtful, absorbing story about the frustrations inherent in communication. Louise is tasked with finding out where they came from and most importantly, why they’re here. But the aliens’ language isn’t even sound-based–it’s written in smoke. The aliens produce feathery circular symbols.

While Louise is on the makeshift military base set up around a shell in Montana, she experiences memories of her beloved daughter, who has seemingly died of a rare, incurable illness.

The secret to the aliens’ language is its oneness. An entire thought complex can be seen at once; their language doesn’t begin and end over a period of time. In the way that language shapes thought, all time is one for the aliens.

And so Louise is feeling and inhabiting this oneness. The closing question is heartfelt and poignant, and one I’ve pondered: If you knew in advance everything in your life, how it would all play out, would you choose to do it anyway?

Losing a child is the hardest thing any parent can face. So if the parent knew beforehand about the loss, would she choose to have the child anyway, just for the journey of loving the child for however many years the child was with her?

A question worth pondering asked by a movie worth seeing.


24 I am’s, with a tip of the hat to Lori
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24 I am’s, with a tip of the hat to Lori

My friend Lori, who is gorgeous and brilliant and inspiring and open-hearted in a way that glows and draws people to her rather inescapably, keeps a heart-felt blog. I love her writing because it’s poignant and soulful and expressive. It flows through the reader. It moves the reader to openness.

I adore Lori because she is wonderful and she is special and she is herself, and because she knows about suffering. It’s something she and I share: rotten childhoods. Other on-going and wrenching difficulties. A sense of the bigness that deep ache can bring to your spirit, if you refuse to allow loss to sour you. An ability to have fun and to laugh from the belly, because there is so much sorrow in life that you must play and giggle and sing and dance every chance you get.
Oh, and she’s part Comanche, so the Cherokee in me feels comfortable around her.
Lori’s blog features an enchanting “about me” page that includes “24 I am’s, in no particular order.” I was perusing her blog this evening, and I wondered, Can I do this?
So here is my list, 24 I am’s, in no particular order:
1. I am a 50 year old mother, wife, friend, and author. Yes, I’ve reached my half-century mark. It’s like falling off a cliff, upward.
2. I am a dedicated practitioner of yoga.
3. I am happy wearing yoga clothes, even when they’re stinky. Lululemon: you rock! Don’t their yoga pants make everyone’s ass look good?
4. I am just as happy wearing a great dress, especially when I feel like I’m pulling it off.
5. I am possessed of creativity, ferocity of spirit, and great friskiness.
6. I am the color turquoise, because it has playfulness and substance, and some deep connection with the heart. Sometimes I am lavender or yellow, or all three at once.
7. I am a novelist. I am always writing a novel. I am a poet, too. I am in my soul essence when I am writing.
8. I am a person who knows about suffering and loss.
9. I am in love with dark chocolate.
10. I am from a background filled with fear, shame, rage, lack, deprivation, violence, and other destructive elements: a background that tried hard to extinguish my light. It failed. My light does take regular maintenance, to be sure, to keep it bright. But I’m still shining.
11. I am an enthusiastic traveller. I carry my passport in my purse in the hopes that TODAY I will get to fly somewhere. I would rather travel than eat, though the two go awfully well together. I have been to England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Bali, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, and the Caribbean.
12. I am an inveterate ravisher of books. I consume books. When I finish reading a book, I have marked it up, squished down corners, stuck in sticky notes, licked my finger to flip the edges of pages, and invaded it entirely. It wants to take a shower and a nap.
13. I am secretly planning a second career as an art thief. Think about it: art thieves get to wear slinky black cat suits, they get to use the newest, coolest, high-tech gadgets, they get to go into museums when no one else is there, and they get to go home with a painting. How awesome is that?
14. I am a card player.
15. I am grateful. I find time every day to give thanks for the good things and the great people in my life.
16. I am one-third extraterrestrial.
17. I am already planning my next life time. Hello, reincarnation.
18. I am learning. I like challenges, so I always find something to learn.
19. I am questionative. For this word, I must give credit to my gloriously curious little daughter, who invented it to describe herself. And she came by the trait honestly.
20. I am here, committing.
21. I am a dog lover. There are two labs in my life right now who cuddle most deliciously. Each one is 55 pounds of lap puppy.
22. I am convinced that being underestimated is a position of strength.
23. I am willing to laugh with you and I love to do so.
24. I am a person who is generous, who is kind but sometimes not nice, who is playful while being solemn, and who is often misunderstood. Hello, complexity.
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I love conspiracy theorists. They tell the best stories. Think about it. Here are my rules for writing novels:
1. Story is how your protagonist does NOT get what he or she wants.
2. Every story is an argument for a specific value.
3. Know the stakes.

Actually, I have a few other rules, too, but those are harder to explain.

So, conspiracy theorists. Why are they telling the best stories? Partly because “enlightened liberalism” has made people afraid to have any values at all. “Everything is ok and everyone is ok” is the hogwash they’re selling–and so many people have unabashedly drunk that kool-aid. “Enlightened liberalism,” egged on by the sanctimonious liberal media, has confused discernment with discrimination and the baby has been thrown out with the scummy bath water.

However, conspiracy theorists have values. One of them is: we have the right to know. Another value: we have the right to independent agency, to freely determine our own lives.

These are good values. These are juicy values.

So the stories conspiracy theorists tell are arguments for those values, and arguments against the secret government-within-a-government who high-handedly decide our lives for us.

We the people are the protagonists and we aren’t getting the freedom we want, to which we are entitled, because of the secret government-within-a-government, the hidden ultra-elite puppet-masters.

The stakes are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are high stakes, indeed.

One of the most fascinating and tenacious theories has to do with UFO’s. With ET’s.

I am conflicted about this theory. In my mind, UFO’s and ET’s exist in the astral plane–which is real. It’s just a different layer of reality than ordinary physical reality.

But do UFO’s exist in the concrete physical world? I’m unsure. I was acquainted with the late, rather wonderful Budd Hopkins and I posed this very question to him.

“They’re real. They’re here,” he assured me, grimly.

Some part of me still needs a UFO to land in Central Park so I can kick a tire.

Another part of me knows they’re real and they’re here–in the astral plane, if no where else.

And here we have former Canadian Minister Paul Hellyer openly affirming extraterrestrial beings and their contact with human governments. He’s also openly discussing the government-within-a-government.

Worth thinking about.

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My friend Gerda is not only a gifted healer and psychic, she is also a friend who understands. We have had this discussion many times, to whit: What are we doing on Earth? We don’t belong here. This place is crazy.

I maintain it is because of Chocolate. I was happily zipping around the cosmos as a gas being, all cool and free, when I approached a pretty little blue and white planet with its sticky astral plane, and someone waved a gooey piece of hazelnut-filled chocolate. BAM! I was caught, like a fly on glue paper.

“Oh, yes, chocolate,” Gerda sighs. “That would do it. Have you tried Milka?”

I am lucky there is someone else here from my unit…. And that 3rd Rock can still be seen on dvd. My children gifted me with seasons 1-4 for Christmas. I laugh and laugh watching it, the laughter of truth and understanding. The laughter of, when is my mission over, when do I get to go home?

Meantime, this planet is rich in pleasure. It wasn’t just chocolate that lured me here. There are also hugs from my children, swimming in a warm sea, lying in the sun, stretching into trikonasana, love-making, beautiful clothes, the scent of lilacs and white flowers in perfumes like DelRae’s Debut or Yosh’s White Flower, an old ripe amarone or brunello di montelcino (I’m partial to the 1997’s), sliding between clean, crisp sheets at night, Krishna Das rocking out to Hare Krishna, or the Dixie Chicks wrenching my heart with Landslide, walking through the Vatican Pinacoteca….

It’s worth it, even with all the accepted, institutionalized insanity, even with all the suffering and loss that come with this bipedal flesh bag with opposable thumbs and uncontrollable emotions. This mission is valuable in and of itself.

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In my next lifetime

In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will ski more and worry less.
I will begin every dinner with dessert, and it will be dark chocolate,
or something gooey
and coconut.
I will choose dresses for color and not for whether or not they make
me look slim. I am thinking yellow,
purple, and butterfly prints
in chintz.
I will start using sun-block when I am 12, the same age
when I will begin practicing
because it makes me feel so peaceful and good.

In my next lifetime, when I come back, I will choose
a comfortably upper-middle-class family to host my wandering
soul. I’ve seen that great wealth imposes anxiety
and demands of its own. Too little to work for
ruins people. So does poverty, my old scourge.
The lack of money–for graduate school, for good doctors,
for guitar lessons, for the occasional porterhouse steak and soul-ravishing
trip to Paris–
is one of the great evils that besets humanity.

In my next lifetime, and I hope the Earth isn’t ruined before
I make it back, I will play outside more, which can mean lying
on my back beneath an oak tree and reading something
like Dickens
or Yeats
or a cheesy romance novel. I will spend more time staring into the sky
and no time at all on a therapist’s couch.

I will say
more often and do the dishes only when they’re piled up to the ceiling.
I will turn off the TV but go to every sci-fi movie
that opens. I will choose more friends who understand
that I’m originally from
the planet Xetron
and that this beautiful blue and green orb
is just a way station on my peregrinations. They will laugh more with me
than at me and they will understand the value of
spontaneous dance.
I have only a few of those kind in this life.
I miss them all the time.

In my next lifetime, since
I’m not enlightened
and I will have to return to complete the balance
I will say “I love you” to the people I love:
on the hour, every hour. Even when I hate them.
And especially when they hate me.

In my next lifetime I will be
the luminous me
I always wanted to be now, and somehow fell short of.
It wasn’t for the absence of an open heart or effort.
Rather, I tried too hard, and let gravity weigh
me down. So in my next life, I will let my
open heart lift, and shine me to everyone I meet.

Traci L. Slatton