‘. . . I spend a lot of time in my garden, seeing the larger patterns reflected in the smaller patterns that I, in my small way, help to sustain. There are ponds with lilies, and tadpoles which drop their tails, grow legs and eventually emerge as frogs. There are tall ferns in the shadows, arching their fronds across the sky like wings, and trees that drop their leaves in winter, carpeting the ground and protecting it from frosts. There are bulbs that lie dormant through autumn and winter, then in spring, at some mysterious signal, push their way through the hard ground towards the light. There are flowers that bare their heart to the sun each day, following its path, their petals closing each night to embrace the darkness. There are trees whose blossoms become fruit that ripens and weighs down the branches, sending summer scents into the hot, still air. There are bees that lift pollen from the flowers, winds that lift seeds from their source, worms that labour underground, enriching the earth, food scraps that become soil. Everywhere in my garden are the patterns of life. I have only to use all my senses, to watch and listen, smell and touch, to taste, and to intuit. I have only to do this and I know what I need to know.’ Flight, Rosie Dub
It seems to me that there are two types of patterns and we are bound by both for different reasons – to the first because we carry a responsibility and to the second because we are imprisoned by them. The first are the natural, harmonious patterns that are repeated throughout the universe, as seen in the movement of the planets and the cycles of nature. As Omar Ali Shah writes, ‘Everything is cosmologically related to movement in a harmonious, balanced and equilibrated way.’ It is when we stray from these patterns that trouble begins. We have only to look at the world around us. Wherever there is imbalance it is because harmony has been broken. The second type of patterns emerge from this, the ones that form around a sense of isolation created due to our breaking away from equilibrium – fear, hate, violence, arrogance, abuse of self and others . . . rippling outward as conflict within an individual becomes conflict within relationship, becomes conflict within society and conflict between societies. Paradoxically, stories carry within them both sets of patterns. They explore conflict and chaos but their structure and the journey of their characters hints at something more – a reaching out to the harmonious patterns from which the majority of us have become isolated.
A return to harmonious balance within ourselves will inevitably help to recreate that same balance in the world around us. But how might we find that harmony? Perhaps one way is to begin using all our senses to interpret the world, balancing our intellect with our intuitive faculties, allowing experience to sit alongside rationality as a valid form of knowledge. This is something I believe we already do unconsciously as part of the creative process which demands that we juggle input from the head and the heart. Balance too is something that we naturally maintain as part of the creative process. The shift from chaos to harmony as we weave together many disparate threads. . . . the curve of the character arc, the motivations behind character action and reaction, the variations in pace as we decide when to show action and when to pause, the choices we make as to which scenes to include, what elements of setting to include, the tying together of plot threads, the shaping of our stories. . . all of these elements of writing require an understanding of balance.
Harmony might be found too if we open our minds and our hearts to life, allowing ourselves to pause before we react and dismiss the unfamiliar. If we are presented with something unfamiliar we have the choice to accept it outright, reject it outright or suspend our disbelief. By suspending disbelief we give ourselves time, allowing our senses to tell us whether or not there is something within this unfamiliar idea that carries a harmony we can assimilate. In The Secret History of the World, Jonathan Black warns that his book may undermine the ‘common sense, materialistic view of life.’ He writes of the need to ‘look at everything upside down and the other way round and break free of established, fixed ways of thinking.’ Black asks the reader to ‘approach the text in a new way – to see it as an imaginative exercise. He asks us to ‘feel what it would be like to believe the opposite of what we have been brought up to believe.’ This entails keeping our minds open. It entails suspending disbelief. This is something we do every time we read a novel or watch a film or even sit down to write a story or paint a picture. We approach with an understanding that we will be carried on a journey into unknown territory, that what we will experience or create is a fabricated form, secondary rather than primary. But we trust that as the journey unfolds the threads that have been woven into the story will appear, allowing us to see the patterns within it and eventually understand the truth it is exploring, a truth that can be perceived through the vehicle of the story. In this way story provides clues that show us how to realign with the harmonic patterns of the universe. In so doing, we learn how to live in this world but not of it.
In each of my novels I have explored the patterns that bind us and the means in which we might break free of those patterns. These are the psychological/spiritual barriers we place between ourselves and the flow of life. All this exploration represents just the beginning of my own search as I slowly learn how to open my heart fully to life. Only now am I coming to understand that love is not something to seek but rather to uncover. If we find harmony and balance within ourselves then love will find us. Perhaps then harmony and love are one and the same thing, for as Rumi wrote, ‘Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.’
You are encouraged to share articles as long as copyright and contact information are always included. Thank you for your courtesy. Rosie Dub
Copyright © 2015 Rosie Dub All Rights Reserved