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Swimming the Echo by Brian L. Tucker

Swimming the Echo

by Brian L. Tucker

Giveaway ends September 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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14th of November

Home is more than an address


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I think about home a lot.

Especially since moving away.

 

Home –

“the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”

 

I like this definition better than some of the others online; it includes that one word, the adverb ‘permanently’.

The image seems truer somehow, even if it’s not the reality you (or I) experienced.

If you’re like me, the word home seems more distant now than it ever has.

 

If you’re from southern Kentucky (specifically Wayne County), you know exactly what Monticello-born author, Harriette Simpson Arnow meant when she said this about her mom’s view of home:

… she (Mama) knew most of the families … in Wayne County. If Mama didn’t know at least who their grandparents were, she considered them strangers. Because she’d grown up that way with the Denneys. There was Denney’s Gap and a Denney post office and two Denney graveyards, and Denney’s Store. And she’d grown up surrounded by her Denny kin. I don’t think she ever felt at home after leaving Wayne County and her close relatives.

 

The sentiments ring true for me. They make the world so much smaller. In my head I think, I’m from where she’s from, my grandparents still live in Denney’s Gap, I know where those graveyards are and that store. I feel what she felt.

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Have you connected with a place like that before?

A place that makes the world suddenly smaller, more intimate?

Do you travel home as much as you’d like?

Is it home like you remembered? Or, do you find yourself longing for another home?

Something C.S. Lewis once surmised, saying, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

It clicks in my head and my heart, as I write this blog in Tennessee. The world isn’t too large to make the trip back, but the miles seem endless staring at this electronic screen. The years busier, and the friends older. While I might not be able to stop time and make my hometown exactly as I remember it, I smile when I think of that one word, and the notion of eternity for all of us.

Not here in Chattanooga. Not there in Monticello. But, another world – permanently.

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2nd of November

How to Break Free


Jim Burgen’s, No More Dragons, from Thomas Nelson Books.

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(on shedding decades of gnarly scales)

 

His sermons (while at Southland Christian Church in Kentucky) were instrumental during my college years, and this book has taken it a step further with messaging that centers upon curing a hardened heart.

Jim challenges the reader saying: becoming a dragon is a dangerously sneaky process.

He uses the C.S. Lewis novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as a fitting example of a boy becoming a dragon unawares. The boy finds treasure, falls asleep on it, dreams, and awakens as a dragon concerned for his treasure hoard. Upon awakening, he discovers he cannot remove his dragon scales without the help of Aslan the lion, protector of Narnia.

Once the scales have been cleansed from his back, Eustace’s friend says, “You have been – well, un-dragoned.”

This is a status most of us (if we’re honest) would like to reach at some point in life: un-dragoned.

Have you ever felt this freedom?

Free of the past. Hopeful for the future. Very much alive in the present.  When we can look in the mirror and not see a monster staring back, is a good day.

What will get us there?

Is there a moment when you can assuredly say you’ve arrived?

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31st of August

Dedicated to a Brave Maine Coon


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(Kujo, circa 2004)

It’s difficult to lose a pet.

I got that call yesterday.

When you experience it, it’s difficult to respond.

How do you respond without feeling foolish?

It was a pet. An animal.

I’m working through it, but I know it’s been even harder to lose one that had such personality.

With me throughout middle & high school, college & graduate school, work & marriage and until yesterday.

The memories of returning from trips and seeing a Maine Coon saunter out to greet us in the driveway. The van still ticking and hot to the touch from miles upon miles on I-75.

Kujo. Such an ill-suited, ironic name for so lovable a cat. But, I laugh thinking about the day my sister named him. Stephen King would be proud.

Mom called last night to confirm that he’d been sick for a while. She took him to the vet. Kidney failure & a host of other problems. The knowledge of him being sick as heavy as the absence of him on the back porch today, I’m sure.

Mom said she buried him where the plum tree once stood. He’d like that, I know. Always one to follow her out to the garden and watch her weed & water the squash and peppers. A country cat. Indoor / outdoor. Super smart and always aware of when tuna cans were being opened.

I’m happy he’s at rest. As I’m sure you’ve felt the same about pets and friends and family.

My heart goes out to those who’ve lost loved ones. (Pets or not.) It’s amazing the memories they can provide. How pets can bring warring parties together. If you told me a Maine Coon could’ve helped deter arguments fifteen years ago, I would’ve laughed. But now I know, even pets, can be agents for good.

Take this sappy entry today and use it, if you’d like. I hope it brings you closure to issues you might be wrestling with this year. God wants us all to live fully, freely, and passionately. All of us. Even pets and animals like the ones Lewis wrote about in The Chronicles of Narnia. They too serve a purpose. Even if it’s to be a daily reminder that it’s okay to let our guard down. It’s okay to love and be loved.

 

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3rd of March

The Hero’s Journey


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Joseph Campbell claimed that heroes endure 17 stages in a journey, which in turn, constitutes a novel, trilogy, etc.

17 stages. 3 main headings: Depart, Initiate, Return.

How many of these are recognizable steps as you think about your favorite book, movie, TV show?

The stages being:

I: Departure –The call to adventure!

  • Refuse the call
  • Supernatural Aid
  • Crossing the First Threshold
  • Belly of the whale (willing to change)

 

II: Initiation–Road of trials

  • Meeting the Goddess
  • (Woman) as temptress
  • Atonement with the Father
  • Apotheosis
  • Ultimate boon

 

III: Return –Refusal to Return

  • Magic flight (adventure/danger, pursuit, obstruction/evasion)
  • Rescue from without
  • Crossing Return Threshold
  • Master of two worlds: physical & spiritual
  • Freedom to live: no fear, live in moment

 

If you analyze this 17-stage process like George Lucas did, you will definitely see the symmetry between his storytelling in Star Wars and the Departure, Initiation, and Return of young Luke Skywalker.

Similarly, you can note these changes in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as Frodo embarks on his quest to Mount Doom, and in The Matrix, as Neo realizes he is The One.

There are specific stages that heroes must endure, in order to accomplish the tasks set before them.

What is your favorite example of Campbell’s detailed process? Do you have a story that works so seamlessly within this system that you almost forget there’s a storyline behind it?

Maybe that’s the secret of the world’s greatest storytellers…seamlessness.

If a story can be told so flawlessly that we forget we’re being led through Middle Earth, battling the White Witch in Narnia, we’re related to Darth Vader, and/or no longer need to dodge bullets, then, we can fully believe that the 17 stages aren’t what’s most appealing about the journey, but the entire journey itself.

I re-read these stories (and re-watch their film adaptations), and I appreciate the genius behind their storylines each time. Essentially, the 2-D becomes 3-D to the reader/viewer in each rare example. There aren’t any glaring holes or glitches like we used to find in our beloved early video games (RIP Contra).

It’s storytelling of the highest order. I ask again if you have a favorite example that can be put through this 17-stage ringer and come out relatively unscathed, up to par?

No story is completely perfect, but many have the makings of it. Only a select few reach us at a level where we appreciate their creation…marvel at the brilliance of a world newly discovered.

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