The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, August 28, 2006

Worldcon and Christenings...

Worldcon and other things

Attended Worldcon in Anaheim this last weekend, and it was actually kind of stressful.  Every time a couple of years pass and I go to a major convention, it seems as if people I love and care about are just…falling apart.  In wheelchairs and walkers. These are all people I tried to talk to years ago about smoking, exercising, and eating right.  And they laughed me off.  And now they’re dying.  It hurts, and some times I think I don’t want to go back to that world…but that would be a bit cowardly.  I really love the SF field for all its dysfunctional elements.  I was pretty damned dysfunctional myself, in some critical ways, when I came in.  And if I’ve healed, they are partially to credit for that…
A couple of times I’ve talked about “The Piering Principle” which is, basically, that if you want to maximize your chances for success in life, you need to do two things:
1) Have well defined, WRITTEN goals, and plans for their accomplishment and
2) The ability to take action, despite the voices in your head.

Let’s get that just a little more precise: well defined goals in all three arenas of life would give clarity on principle #1, and understanding the nature of the voices in your head is vital.

Let’s call them “The Radio Voice.”  This voice has certain characteristics:
1) It keeps on playing of its own accord.
2) It is so close to you that you don’t know it exists.  It is so mauch a part of you that you do not even recognize it as being separate from you.
3) You listen to its advice which is often false.
4) You believe the radio is actually you when it is just a radio.
There are many, many reasons to meditate, but one of the very best is to find the difference between “you” and the “voice.”  When you do that, you will come closer to your original, basic, powerful self…

Yesterday Tananarive, Nicki and I went to a Christening party for a lovely, talented black actress.  For the sake of her privacy, I won’t mention any names.  What I wanted to  say is that a couple of things occurred to me as I watched and talked and interacted with her guests, who were mostly black actors, lawyers, doctors. 
1) They were smart.  I mean, REALLY smart.  College educations as the bottom line.  Most impressed me as having the kind of intellectual focus you would find in college professors of the highest water.  Interesting…and not what I’ve experienced in Hollywood as a whole.
2) They were all connected in a web of spirituality.  Now, the group was selected, of course—they had all been invited by the actress, so they reflect her.  But it was fascinating how many times a deep sense of gratitude for life, and love, and health was expressed. A sense of the divine, a love of Christ, or a commitment to other spiritual paths, such as Zen. 

And reflecting on this, it hit me how often I have seen this among highly functioning black folks—actually a more impressive level of intelligence and spirituality than among whites of similar success levels.  Note that I’m not suggesting that blacks are more intelligent and spiritual, just that at a given level of success, I see more of it.  My suspicion?  Whites at the same level are even MORE successful.  Call it the “Black Tax.”
But let’s get away from race, because the core lesson is applicable to anyone. Among these very successful people, intellectual clarity and acuity is absolutely critical. The ability to synthesize data into new pathways, and to think flexibly—these people are walking pathways trod by few before them.

And as for Faith?  You need a place to put your fear and frustration, your anger.  And this is separate from the lessons of LifeWriting, which state clearly that the way through the Dark Night is Faith.  Without that, when things get bad you are thrown on your individual resources, which are often insufficient.

There is also the issue of spirituality reaching across racial and cultural boundaries.  When you meet another person who is genuinely committed to such a path, you have found someone sho you can speak to as a brother or sister, less limited by the differences in genetic or cultural origin. 

There is a lesson here, about the value of clear, careful thinking, gratitude, spirituality, a loving and gracious nature…I saw so much of that, plus humor and vast energy.

It was a great day, and just what I needed after WorldCon. 

1 comment:

Baby Boomer Sensei said...

Interesting read. You have an awareness that many do not, especially in an industry where spirituality is but a layer of clothing needed to get noticed. I have similar ideas but more from a business and martial arts perspective. Not to worry. I won't bore you with acumens you haven't heard already. Like you, I write, not as well as you, but with the intention of finding answers to questions that linger unanswered in my lifetime.

I wish you well.

Sensei Domi