I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m much more inclined to imagine there’s a reason for things, a bigger picture. And that includes why we’re alive. It’s not a new idea, of course. Aristotle wrote that we all have purpose and the meaning of life is to try and attain that purpose. We’re still trying to figure that one out twenty-four hundred years later.
For me, writing is my way of learning to understand. It’s my canvas and my keyboard for expressing the ‘me-ness‘ of me. Writing has helped me understand what my purpose is. I’m no saint, that’s for sure, no guru and certainly no expert but I do know my purpose is to help people remember their purpose. I’m a trigger.
I had this insight while writing my first work of fiction, Powers That Be. I began by writing more than 25,000 words in unconnected streams of consciousness. Hour after hour of furious keyboard taps but no structure, no strong point of view, no plot and definitely no target audience. I had no idea where it was going at all. To be honest, I didn’t care. I just wanted to write. I was on a mission and I wanted to share a message. Problem was at that time I didn’t know what that message was, and I had no idea how to share it.
Like most aspiring authors I lost the plot. Literally. Easy to do when you don’t have one in the first place. Frustration, self-doubt and anxiety decided it would be fun to mess around with ‘poor me’ and my last strands of sanity. That’s when I started to read more than I wrote. I stumbled across the Visionary Fiction Alliance and became inspired with the tagline of Read. Write. Awaken.
I wasn’t alone!
I studied the art of book craft and made notes that found themselves stuck on the walls of my writing space. My characters came alive and I managed to confuse friends with a protagonist’s point of view as if it was my own, which it was but it wasn’t, if you know what I mean. I’d wake up at 2 a.m. and write for an hour or so, cat in lap and coffee steamed cold, only to return the next day wondering who wrote that! I certainly didn’t remember doing it. I was possessed and ever so slightly mad … and loving it!
It was one of those very early morning sessions that I wrote a dialogue in Powers That Be between my main protagonist (Harry) and his guide (an old university friend called Dan). That conversation changed everything. They spoke about past lives and purpose, about a mission Harry had forgotten and the impact he would have when he remembered what the mission was. Reading it gave me goose-bumps and a lump stuck in my throat making my eyes well up. Who wrote that?
The dialogue was my conversation with consciousness and certainly a Eureka moment. It was simple. I needed to write about people struggling to remember their “why” by simply helping them to remember they have a ‘why.” It wasn’t going to be self-help though. As much as I like to read the top seven-ways to live a more productive life I wasn’t going to write a self-righteous sermon delivered from a soapbox made from rainbow love and unicorn tears. No sir!
The VFA inspired me. This was going to be a page-turning action adventure thriller with down-to-earth characters, warts and all. I wanted to create real situations, some of which were just downright evil and gruesome. But the underlying message was one of conscious evolution. It was going to be a message of love and hope because we all have the power within to break free from the powers of control. All you had to do was remember.
Once I understood this, everything I did became an exercise in awareness. I wasn’t just reading books by chance or watching YouTube videos to pass the time. I was learning for a reason and that meant my characters quickly became the voices discussing this. Sometimes we’d argue about over-thinking and trying to find deeper meanings where none existed. We helped each other understand how important it was to notice how we reacted to events. Harry likes to say it’s not about cause and effect but more about causing an effect and he knows that if he remembers this, if he can just hold that moment of clarity for longer than a fleeting second, he will be one step closer to living a truth and helping to create a more loving, more balanced world.
Living in Bali really helps me explore this because it’s blessed with a culture that accepts the idea of balance and addresses it on a daily basis, through ceremonies, offerings and a deep sense of peace that’s difficult to grasp and totally wonderful to experience. Time, in a western sense, isn’t linear here. If there was ever anywhere in the world that personifies balance and the otherworldly, it’s Bali and that’s why Powers That Be is set here.
The people who live on this small tropical island with active volcanoes and regular earthquakes believe in something called Tat Twam Asi. This is a Hindu Dharma concept, which roughly translated means ‘I am you and you are me.’ It’s like do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. That should sound vaguely familiar for most folk and I hope quite comforting.
Checkered sarongs are a common sight in Bali. They’re used to dress shrines and devotees wear them for temple ceremonies. They represent life. And balance. There is good (depicted by white squares) and bad (depicted by black.) After all, you can’t have one without the other right? But the Balinese also believe in 50-shades of gray (excuse the pun) because nobody’s completely perfect and not everyone’s a totally evil bastard either. They believe we live our daily lives playing in those gray shadows between the good and the bad and sometimes we’re conscious of doing so.
I write Visionary Fiction in those shadows. It’s where I learn to deal with my own struggles and conflicts as well as my inspirations and joy. Sometimes it’s gritty with uncomfortable close to the bone conspiracies. Sometimes it’s just plain funny, because after all, the universe should be a humorous place. The prime driver however, is because I believe our survival, both individual and as a species, is intrinsically woven into life’s rich tapestry with threads of love. This love connects us. Love helps us understand we are part of something much larger than ourselves. We simply need to remember.
Andrzej Barski was born in the UK and is the author of Powers That Be, which is available on Amazon. He’s a freelance syndicated writer and editor living in Bali and co-founder of Seven Stones Indonesia, a holding company with interests in property, law, branding and delivering exceptional customer experiences. He loves riding Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Visit his website at andybarski.com