Friday, April 1, 2011

A is for Altitude

Shortly after exiting the military I found myself studying shamanism under the guidance of a Native American woman named Nukah.  Unlike many of the workshops and books available on the topic today, I was taught using traditional methods.  Shamanic concepts were presented to me, but not techniques.  Those were up to me to discover on my own.  I went off into the wild, seeking to do what countless generations of shamans had done before me, knowing that I could only return for additional instruction when I found my own techniques that successfully completed the lesson at hand.

While there were countless lessons that focused on what the modern world would consider to be mystical abilities, the greatest lesson was one of perspective.  I spent countless hours, simply sitting and listening to the world around me.  Sometimes I would lay flat on the ground, my face peering through blades of grass at the world beneath my feet; other times I would perch in the tallest tree I could find, listening to the wind as it whispered through the branches and watching the forest come to life below me.

"Morning Dew" - photographed March 15, 2007
Even now, in my decidedly suburban world, I will do things to change my perspective.  I take different routes to and from my daily commute and constantly seek out new experiences in music, food, or simple experiences.  Each year I resolve to do one thing outside of my comfort zone, a path that has led me to learn sea kayaking, jump out of planes, and embark on solo backpacking treks.  This year I leapt into the publishing world.  Next year?  Perhaps "Open Mic Night" at a local coffee shop, just me, a microphone, and a guitar.

The thing is, we look at things the same way, day in and day out.  Our eyes are set for "human altitude" and it's from that perspective that we see the world around us.  It's rare that we take the time to see through another person's eyes, let alone a perspective that has roots, four legs, or a pair of wings.

"Clouds from a Plane" - photographed September 15, 2006
Rather than giving up who we are when we change our perspective, through a surprise process, we let go of the things that aren't a part of who we are.  Some of the perspectives tell us, "It's okay to see things this way," and allow us to let go of defenses we didn't even know we'd raised; others cause us to hold to a position more tightly, willing to defend it against all odds.  It's a process of discovering, not just new perspectives, but new portions of ourselves.

When I write a novel, I do my best to bring "altitude" to the tale I weave.  In Escaping Destiny there's mortal and fae, hero and villain, and countless shades in between.  How would a half-mer see the world?  Would it be through the eyes of his mortal father or from the perspective of his mother's people?  If you're torn between duty and the person you love, would you find peace in your choices or would they tear you apart inside?

One of the things that I learned while studying with Nukah is that everything happens for a reason.  It may not according to the script we want the world to follow, but each thread is part of a greater weave.  It's why I called my first series of book Tapestry - in honor of the way each person's story and perspective creates the greater story.

I'm participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.  Tomorrow: the letter B.


  1. Fantastic!! I waited all day for this and WOW WOW WOW!!! Thank you!!!

  2. A is indeed for altitude. Thank you for the encouragement to consider many perspectives

  3. I learn something from every single one of your posts. :)

    Thank you, and I look forward to tomorrow's blog!

  4. Neat post. Happy to meet you, Jeffrey.

  5. I like your attitude about altitude. Excellent way to view life!

    Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.

    Tossing It Out
    Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

  6. Thanks, everyone!

    Christa, it's a treat to meet you as well. I'm following your blog, so you'll most likely see me in your comments. :)

  7. Thank you, Jeffrey, for sharing your life and your knowledge. It is greatly appreciated and helps me think outside my own box.

  8. I love your blog It really gets people involved. I am a life time follower.