Monthly Archives: November 2017

Narcissus and Nemesis

A familiar story?

 

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was renowned for his beauty. The goddess Nemesis punished him for his hubris by drawing him to a pool. One day walking the forest, Narcissus was thirsty and went to drink from the stream. As he saw the reflection, he fell in love, not knowing it was him (he is unconscious). He bent down to kiss the reflection,  but it seemed to run away (ideals are elusive), and Narcissus was heartbroken. He would not touch the water for fear of damaging the reflection (his public image?), so he died staring at his reflection.

Tragedy?

Graeme Daniels, MFT

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Apologies for the golden sperm

 

Not what you’re thinking, whatever you’re thinking.

I was walking along a dirt trail, getting some fresh air, post-wildfire air, with a colleague.

“What kind of feedback are you getting about your novel?”

I pause, considering the question for a moment, like I hadn’t thought about this kind of question already

“Apologetic”

“What?”

“Nothing. Inside joke. Look out.”

“Oh,” my colleague says, tracking my gaze and thus looking down. There lies a golden or mustard-colored slug sliming its way across the dirt path. I’d just saved its life.

“Talk about patience. See, it’s in no rush. It’s just doing its thing. Ask it ‘how’re you’re doin?’, it might say ‘gettin’ there, taking it one slithering inch at a time”

“You’re a comic” My colleagues responds familiarly. He knows already my habit of personifying things, ideas. It’s my thing.

“Imagine it gets three quarters of the way across, then a vehicle comes by and crushes it. Fate. Now that would merit an apology. That would crush its spirits”

“Different perspectives. Life is relative,” my colleague says, joining if not really adding to the whimsical mood.

“Good thing it doesn’t have our perspective, actually. No thinking. No disappointments. No pain.”

“Ugh” my colleague utters. Now I track his gaze. Up ahead, a second slug appears, similarly colored, only this one was sliced in two.

“It’s a slug exodus,” I say. “Somebody owes it an apology, even though it’s tougher than us. Think about it, because we can. God didn’t give it anymore than it could handle. Look at it, the head. It’s alright, really. It’s smiling, knows its place in the universal order. It doesn’t think as we know it. Doesn’t have a self. As long as one of them makes it, it primitively knows. It lives its truth–like sperm. in fact, they even look like sperm. Golden sperm”

Weird. That’s what my colleague’s face says. He looks at me. He wants to look away, I can tell. Maybe he wonders if my novel is weird, too. He’d know if he read it.

“Sorry, friend. Better luck next time,” he says reverently, looking down at the slug. We look at each other. We appraise.

“Well, somebody should say it,” I say.

 

Graeme Daniels, MFT

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Guest blog review: a direct approach

 

Blended

Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5

Blended is a sympathetic, lighthearted story about the search for meaning.

A midlife search for connection and meaning drives Graeme Daniels’s Blended, a slice-of-life story featuring one woman’s thoughtful, if action-light, personal journey.

Tillie Marsden’s reflections on her career and relationships give depth to the narrative, which is a candid account of her life over several months. Her days are filled by her part-time job with the American Cancer Society, her interactions with her husband and coworkers, and her thoughtful examinations of all of these events.

Tillie has a history of wanting to help others, and she always finds ways of connecting to the people around her. Her unending quest for meaning leads her to volunteer to help a refugee family settle into her small Oregon town.

Tillie becomes the listening ear for each of the Pakistani spouses. They push her comfort levels, and she receives only cursory encouragement from her husband, Bill. As she tries to navigate her role in helping the family, Tillie’s thoughts wander to her own children and stepchildren. She questions the status of each relationship, particularly with Jacob, the stepson who is the last to leave her home.

As interactions with the Pakistani family increase, they act as a mirror to Tillie’s appraisal of her own family. Tillie’s is an inward journey, one in which she attempts to glean meaning and insight from every interaction. A few misunderstandings and incidents between Bahram, Bill, and Jacob result in the story’s main, though still scant, action.

Writing flows well, and dialogue is believable. Insights from supporting characters lend the narrative depth, and the portrayal of the uprooted Pakistani family and their backstories adds a richness to the story. A bit of wry humor comes through as well, such as through a diversionary scene with Tillie’s boss, where she goes against her grain. Keen observations and descriptive details make for fully fleshed-out and relatable characters.

As Tillie endlessly dissects her interactions, though, the narrative begins to drag. Never content with a situation until it is fully explored and explained, she questions the intentions of others, reads into every exchange, and explores the reasons behind her own responses at length.

Still, Tillie’s story is easy to relate to, particularly for anyone who seeks deeper connections to their friends, family, and coworkers. In the end, Tillie develops a blueprint for fulfilling interactions: If you’re not sure, ask; if it makes you uncomfortable, don’t; and be honest.

Blended is an often lighthearted story that is sure to provide comfort to all who, like its main character, are seeking more meaning in their lives.

Reviewed by Felicia Seeburger

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