Saturday, January 04, 2014

Randomizing Life with Oracles

They say that the surest sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  
From that standpoint I think I’ve had a bit too much insanity in my life in 2013.  I want to change that for 2014.  I want to do things a bit differently.  
So, today, I consulted the I Ching on what I should write about.  
That’s different, isn’t it?  For me, anyway.  
I need to let you know, though, for those of you who don’t know already, that I’m a big skeptic when it comes to things like horoscopes or fortune-telling.  I don’t believe that things like the position of the stars at the time of your birth, or the number the letters in your name represent, have much to do with how successful you’ll be in life, career or romance.  If it were true, verifiable and repeatable, then we’d all have sure-proof manuals for our life provided to us at birth.  
Oracles, though, are something different.  I think oracles are more like mirrors, showing more of what is going on within the person consulting them than they might realize.  
It is said that at one time, Alexander the Great went to Delphi to consult the oracle there, to hear whether or not he would become a great conqueror.  When the priestess, Pythia, refused to answer his question that day, Alexander stormed into her chamber, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her out of her chambers.  
“Let me go, let me go!” Pythia is said to have screamed.  “You’re unbeatable!”  
“There!”  Alexander released her hair.  “I have my answer.”  He then rode off to conquer the known world.  
With that in mind, I used a copy of the "I Ching, The Little Book That Tells The Truth," I bought years ago to answer this question today: 
“What should I write about to further my professional writing career?”  
The book comes with a deck of cards that you draw from to build the trigrams and hexagrams that provide the answer to your question.  Keeping this question in mind, I came up with this hexagram: 

Which means, Water Above, Wood Below.  It refers to things that change, like the town you are living in, compared with things that don’t change, like the well the town draws its water from.  If the rope or pole used to pull the bucket from the well isn’t long enough, then there is thirst.  

But three of the lines had dynamic motion to them, meaning that this hexagram was in the process of transforming into another: 
This one means Thunder Above, Water Below.  It’s basic meaning is Deliverance or Liberation.  If all the obstacles are dealt with, returning home bring goods fortune.  If obstacles are before you, then hurrying to meet them brings good fortune.  
Based on the book I have, I came up with the following reading: 
“At a present time of Thirst at the Well you are especially advised that they started to dig but never reached the water.  Sad, for we know it is there and we could all have used it if our ruler had only dug deeper.  This well needs repair but you are right to believe it will yield water.  Cool and clean, the water in this well is excellent to drink.”
“The likelihood is that the situation is changing to a time of Liberation in  which the probably result and appropriate course of action will be, if liberation is to be achieved, to take action at once.  When liberation comes, restoring forever, familiar conditions, brings good fortune.”
Sounds fancy and fortune-telly, huh?  But what does it tell me about what I should be writing about?  
First, there are several places where I see what the reading is talking about.  Certainly, in the current state of my writing career, I am thirsting for greater success.  I have been for some time.  I know that I have the capacity to write well.  I’ve had a sip or two of success.  I’ve been told by colleagues in the field, and the occasional editor, that I have what it takes.  This jives when what I see as the truth already.  
The question of “digging deeper,” is not completely clear to me.  Does this mean I need to dig deeper within myself?  I have sometimes wondered if I’m trying to be merely cleaver with my stories, picking thinks to write that are “good ideas,” rather than things that really move me emotionally.  
I remember a story J. Michael Straczynski used to tell at conventions, when he was working on a TV show and they received a script from someone that had never written a script before.  The story was about alcoholism, and though there were issues in the telling of the story, Straczynski found it moving and powerful.  When they interviewed the writer, they discovered that his father had been an alcoholic, and the story was drawn from the man’s experiences growing up.  They ended up buying the script from him.  
And what does it mean about the well needing to be fixed?  I guess that depends on what “the well,” is.  The first answer could mean simply my writing technique.  I need to just write better.  It could be that I’m tacking story ideas that I don’t yet have the technical means to write yet.  If so, then I need to do something about that.  Take a writing class.  Join a writing workshop.  Go to a writers’ conference where I need to submit my stuff for critique and speak with fellow writers about what they are doing.  
It could mean something different, though.  If the water is the story, then the means of getting it out of the well is the bucket.  The bucket, then, would be my craft.  The story would be shaped by my craft in the same way water takes the shape of the bucket bringing it up.  
If that analogy holds, then the well would be my means of finding what is important to me.  The way I decide what is important enough to write about.  It could mean that I’m holding myself back from writing about personal things, out of fear perhaps, or embarrassment.  I need to find a way to make myself more whole, from a psychological, emotional or perhaps even spiritual standpoint.  Once that is done, I may find that the stories I’ve always wanted to write start gushing out.  
I think oracles are very much like the old fortune-teller’s scam, where they make an open statement and wait for a response.  
“I see a ticket in your future,” the fortune-teller might say.  
“Oh!  Do I win?”  This response would take the fortune-teller down a much different path than, “Damn!  Do I go go court?”  
In my writing, and in my life, I think I’ve been asking myself the same questions again and again.  Things are changing, though.  I can feel them.  I’m more aware of time scraping past me, reducing some things to dust, polishing others to a fine sheen.  I want to find a way to ask myself different questions, in the hopes that different answers will present themselves and that different solutions might be found.  
And if the oracle doesn’t give me what I want, then I might just take Alexander’s method to heart, and drag the answer I want, kicking and screaming, from its reply.  


Anonymous AnnD said...

Grab whatever you need to by the hair... and go for it.

January 4, 2014 at 2:50 PM  
Blogger Glenn Fingler said...

Google "I Ching Catholic Church" and read.

October 19, 2014 at 4:33 AM  
Blogger Glenn Fingler said...

My email account at gmail is inactive. Any reply should be addressed to

October 19, 2014 at 4:35 AM  

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