Non-Fiction…..sigh!

So, there’s this contest coming up which I am determined to enter, the only problem is that it calls for non-fiction. I have a hard time with non-fiction because writing started out as an escape for me. A place that I could go to get away from the things that I didn’t understand and that I didn’t feel I could fight. So, I wrote (terrible, terrible, poetry mostly). Writing is not as much of an escape anymore, now I can use it to work through ideas and questions that I have and to fix moments in time, or simply to take pleasure in words. Non-fiction remains difficult, however, because it means delving into reality in a very real way and then I get stuck.

Does anyone have ideas or exercises that might help me with this? I hate feeling limited and like there is an element of writing that is closed to me.

Above all, Clouds.

If I were religious I might have broken out the verse, “The heavens declare the glory of god and the firmament showeth her handiwork. Day unto day utereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge”(that one’s for you Mom). The King James version of the bible was the one I grew up with and was my first exposure to poetry (one of the things I am most passionate about). From the bible I moved on to Shakespeare (obviously), them fell in love with Leaves of Grass by Whitman and on from there. But there are still many verses from the bible that I was forced to memorize as a child standing in the corner for some offence or another ( usually foolishness and daydreaming. I still indulge in both.) that come to me in the same way that a commercial jingle or children’s song do. The difference, of course, is the context. Along with the scripture comes that sense of security (false as it turns out) and the value we were taught to attach to these words by our teachers and parents making them more weighty. Isn’t it amazing how seductive and comfortable the familiar is? I guess that’s why they say ignorance is bliss.

Babies: the true athiests

As I observe my 8 month-old son I can’t help but envy him his uncomplicated perception of life and the world. Being an unselfconscious, uncompromisingly egotistical creature (psychologically speaking) there is no conflict for him when he wants or feels something. There is no hesitation in his expression. But, what I envy the most is his lack of religion. He truly believes only in what he sees and does not feel the need to apologize to all of his christian relations for going about life in the most logical way possible. As these thoughts were formulating in my head a bible verse from my childhood came to mind. Something to the effect of “Ye must become as a little child to enter into the gates of heaven”, give or take a “thee” or “thou”. I remember as a child children were held up as examples of faith because of how unquestioningly they accepted what they were taught, whether it was Santa Clause, Jesus, fairies or the Ogopogo. ┬áThe assumption was that the less you question what you are taught the stronger your faith or the purer you are (which would imply I am beyond corrupt;) But why is it really that children accept things so unquestioningly? Is it evidence of purity or is it because children trust so explicitly in the adults with whom they ┬áhave formed that essential bond, and therefore accept absolutely anything they are told? If their faith is dependant on their trust in the one teaching it to them then it really isn’t god or fairies that they believe in, ultimately, but their mother (or father or caregiver as the case may be), who, as William Makepeace Thackeray (according to good ol’ Wiki) said, ” is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children”. A child’s faith in god is merely an extension or manifestation of their unquestioning trust in their caregiver. And this unquestioning trust makes sense from a developmental, and survival perspective. Their tust ensures their safety and encourages emulation so that they acquire the necessary skills to survive. Unfortunately, they also pick up some useless, counterproductive behaviours and world views as well. But I digress. My point is that a child’s faith rests very firmly in what they can see and if the person or people who care and provide for them tell them there is some guy in the sky a child expresses their trust by accepting that. In fact, their acceptance and belief can also be seen as an expression of love and a desire to receive their parents’ approval and acceptance, again, having very little to do with god and everything to do with the concrete world. There, I rest my case. And my expertise(if any) does not lie in child psychology so feel free to set me straight if you have a different perspective on all this. I want to hear what you think! And my apologies to anyone offended by this post. I’m a doubter from waaaay back;)