A Cloud Atlas Review: What Could Have Been

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On October - 29 - 2012

Months ago, the on-line trailer for Cloud Atlas caught my interest immediately.  After reading a number of professional reviews today after the film’s debut over the weekend, this is no attempt at competing with the pros. As I hope “some day” to have my historical fiction/fantasy/sci-fi novel Burden of Privilege:The Secret Life of Geoffrey Collins adapted into a movie that includes the premise of the reincarnation of George Washington Carver I was thrilled and curious as to how the promoted theme of “we are all connected” would read as an entire movie. As we know, trailers are edited to “pull us in” and the first trailer and a few additional ones did just that.  After initially being exuberant about its possibilities, I admittedly began to have some faint gut misgivings but dismissed the internal nudgings by rationalizing that I needed to be open minded and objective, see this on the big screen and see what I could learn. Because each person should be free to judge the movie for themselves I will simply state the following opinion: For a story that held promise of  further birthing the expression of “spiritual” film themes into the world of mainstream moviegoing experiences, Cloud Atlas was a difficult delivery. My main point?  The scenes of  shocking graphic violence that appear numerous times throughout the film sully what could have been a beautiful and still dynamic and action packed spiritual  message that at its end could have given us a special gift of substance and wonder. We have all seen movies  before where there is a  message of love, overcoming, or acts of unselfishness that become so overshadowed by the  too oft used Hollywood mindset approach that the recipe must have large measures of titillating violence and orgasmic sex, that you leave the theater  with the definite hunch that somebody had promised you a nice uplifting  story  but  had instead picked your pockets while you were munching on your popcorn and scratching your head about what was actually taking place.

 

Deeper Meaning in a Wave

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On April - 17 - 2012

Its wonderful to discover things in our nature that contribute to our not losing faith in humanity. Over many months now, as I take walks on our back country roads, a very interesting thing occurs again and again. It is a very special form of communication known as “the wave.”

As cars, vans, trucks, and pick-up trucks come toward me, I walk onto the shoulder. Almost every single vehicle not only moves away from from me but sometimes cross completely into the other lane in what I will interpret as a special show of consideration. (This is of course if no one is coming in the opposite direction, and then the driver coming towards me seems to patiently slow way down until the other car passes.) There are a few drivers now and then consumed in a cell phone conversation that sometimes do not give an inch (fortunately there’s the shoulder I mentioned), but most do. It is in that moment of passing that I will nod a thank you, but sometimes I will stick up a hand and wave a thank you. Almost every single time, male or female, young or old, the driver immediately waves back.  In that split second of a friendly wave there is no Democrat or Republican, there is no Christian, Muslim, Jew or Atheist , no brand name clothing comparison (at least I don’t think anyone looks for that), no “I’m too busy”, no “don’t acknowledge a stranger.”   In just that split second, a wordless but meaningful -on -some- level communication take place, a second in time of kindness, courtesy, and possibly even genuine recognition of “another member of the world family.” I believe inherently we do care. A “wave” reminds us that we can still communicate from the heart, no words necessary.

The Interesting Phenomenon Called “Time”

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On April - 4 - 2012

Perhaps the only line I remember from the old TV Kung Fu series is when Master Po said to the young Kwai Chang Caine, “The soul knows not time, only growth.”  Undoubtedly it is an ancient saying but I won’t take the time here to document its actual origin. I truly have come to believe that time is not a constant, but also speeds up and slows down. Ancient martial artists (and some present day ones) were able to alter time at least in the perceptions of lesser developed opponents such that what appeared to be taking place in real time, and at lightening speed, was being planned out and executed within a different slower time frame. In another sense perhaps a skilled practitioner can willfully enter into such an altered state so as to have plenty of time to dodge a bullet quite easily. Previously, this may have been dismissed as science fiction or fantasy, but quantum mechanics will inevitably prove (in a way that is acceptable to those requiring proof through scientific method) that time can be altered and that thought can and does move matter. The implication? All of our thoughts “matter” and have a powerful positive or negative effect on more than we realize. Angry at someone? Depressed? Happy? Hopeful? Your expression of emotion alters  experience not only for you but for others as well.

Well regardless of all of the above, time seems different to all of us. Late for an important date? Doesn’t seem like enough time to get to your destination? Dreading that court appearance that mom and dad don’t know about? Wow how could a month seem like a year? Waiting to hear from the literary agent about your new novel? How did a year turn into almost three???

So what to do with this conjecture and at least partially provable information? Go through time, each moment with gratitude and appreciation. Did you screw up a situation? Don’t condemn yourself. Simply thank God and be grateful that you have arrived at yet another amazing moment in linear time, each second a totally unique,  fresh, brand new beginning that never was and never will be again. What do I know really ? In time it will all be made clear. In the meantime, don’t waste time worrying about it:)

 

 

 

That Special Place

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On December - 1 - 2011

There’s that special place in all of us that is pure and loving and good. Its the place where politics, dogmatic opinionated religious divisive beliefs (as opposed to true spirituality) cannot enter. Some might refer to it as the Christ within. Others might say its the pristine place in the citadel of our highest expression. I am the happiest as a person here in this world when I express from that place. It becomes clearer to me that love, true love for everyone, including ourselves is an inviolable powerful force for the good of all. It is a high frequency expression. Traveling from moment to moment in that vehicle of  dwelling is a wonderful experience. It by no means means that one is oblivious to the reality happening around us, or is it the illusion we perceive rather than the cosmic reality? Suffering, victimization, abuse, is by the grace of God only temporary, no matter how omnipotent or all consuming its seems to be to us at the time. The light is always present in the midst of the darkest moments of our experience. When we look to the light, the darkness must diminish. When I’ve struggled with feelings I’ve had sometimes, especially when I’ve had some not so kind thoughts, and have inquired  of God in those moments I have been reminded and advised of a very simple but pure verity,  “Just Love.” When we come from that place other than from condemning judgment, we come from the refuge of that special place.

The Loveliness of the Process

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On November - 27 - 2011

If it weren’t for the loveliness of the process, what would this be all worth?  As an unknown, unrepresented Indie author it can sometimes bring a feeling of despair, until, I remember the many wonderful, gracious, kind, supportive, beautiful people I meet along the way.

An art teacher of mine at Ohio State University back in 1968 was the first person to say to me,,,”Don’t put too much value on the creative product, rather realize that the process is what is valuable.” He was ahead of his time in the sense that we read advice today in books like The Power of Now by Eckhard Tolle in which we are encouraged not to think past or future, but right now. That sometimes seems much easier said than done, but when you experience some of the pristine moments of practicing that conscious choice, it makes you want to live in those moments more often than not. Remember though, be kind to yourself. Our habits (especially ones of negativity) are strong, so for some of us it takes extra conscientious effort to be in The Now.

The writing experience teaches me gratitude and appreciation more than anything else. I thank each and every person, animal and plant that has been a friend along the way. We are all truly interconnected but many of us just haven’t perceived that reality yet. Those moments when eyes meet with acceptance and we see only soul friendship and not race, religion, politics, or  the costumes we wear to state who we are, we are joined in Spirit as it should be. Those moments are truly the elixir and essence of the loveliness of the ongoing life process.

 

Working Towards The Close Encounter

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On October - 26 - 2011

When I saw the movies Close Encounters of The Third Kind and ET, I loved the portrayal of beings from beyond our little beautiful blue and green planet. We all know there was the obvious symbolism of being “different” especially in ET but also definitely in Close Encounters when the main male character, Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss was so deeply affected by his close encounter, affected to the point of obsession that eventually drove away his wife and children. He struggled and I struggled with him when he said  very passionately from the depths of his person, “But this is important!!!” and  “I know this means something important.” His unstoppable determination, intelligence and intuitive savvy finally got him past all of the roadblocks and obstacles until he climbed  Devil’s Tower and came to the secret landing strip and the crew that awaited the coming of the extra terrestrials.  His childlike nature and sense of ethereal wonder was portrayed so beautifully when the alien children came towards him, held his hands and chose him from all of the others suited up to go and brought him into the blinding light of the boarding ramp. He looked back at us with an indescribable joy.

Seeing that movie planted in me the conviction of how wonderful a motion picture can be, and how whether consciously or subconsciously Steven Spielberg knew how to tell a beautiful story . As a high school Art and photo teacher I then began a program called Telecommunications in which in addition to broadcasting and journalism, we began to make “electronic cinematography” movies with teen oriented issues of self esteem,  drinking and driving, etc. and presented them as half hour movies in assemblies in our school and also on local access TV.

The great promise of what this kind of technology could do when used to reach the masses with good messages was a seed that grew in me further over the years. When I wrote Burden of Privilege:The Secret Life of Geoffrey Collins, I wrote it as a movie, dreaming like Ray Neery that something important was waiting to happen and waiting to be  born. So I continue like Mr. Neary to work past any roadblocks of doubt or bureaucratic complexity to make it to the mountain. My hope is that when I meet the special ones, everyone will come for the ride.