I have the kind of mind that falls naturally into the understanding and use of metaphor. Even in the most casual of conversations you'll hear me say, "It's like..." I love metaphor as long as it isn't trite or obvious, and my health's sudden nose dive brought up a comparison that I really loved. Let me see if I can explain it to you.
You know, of course, that writers like myself create fictional worlds and characters. Sometimes these are representations of what already exists within the writer. I say sometimes because some writers create the exact opposite. If this isn't true, and some nightmarish worlds and evil characters exist inside other writers, I really don't want to know...
In Beyond The Bridge, I've created a world and characters that have long existed in myself. I wasn't aware of this at the time of writing, of course. I was just making up a story. Little did I know what this could teach me about myself. In the end, writing really is nothing but self-analysis.
In the world of dream symbolism, a house represents one's life. It represents you in your dreams. You are the house and the different parts of it—rooms, floors, windows, doors—represent different aspects of yourself while the items in these rooms represent the issues you’re going through. There is a reason why I unconsciously chose Gunthorpe Hall as my model for Chadwicke Hall, Gordon Hammond's rock star country mansion. Not too big, added onto through the years, a bit a-symmetrical with a strong, fortress-like tower through which anyone who enters must pass. I even put a meditation room in the top of the tower (my higher self) and an art gallery (my creative self) sandwiched in between. So there I am "in a nutshell", presenting "like the layers of a cake": a guarded but welcoming entrance topped by my creative output, and crowning those are matters of the spirit. A neat little pile with a secret staircase tucked inside a hidden door.
My health issues have brought out a lot other correlations between my books and myself. The characters, for instance. Gordon Hammond is the part of me that takes care of business. The slow, methodical, calm center of myself. He's also the me I've always run away from the most. He's compelling, but not particularly fun. He has things to do and people rely on him to deliver, to make sure things are in order and that life runs as smoothly as possible. He's also my spiritual side. He spends a lot of time in that meditation room trying to find and maintain a state of grace. He doesn't always succeed, but no one knows this because he hides it so well. He's always looking out through those windows, too. Scanning, peering, not for signs of danger, but for opportunities for more growth, more experiences from which to learn about himself and his place in the universe.
Noel Saunders is the direct opposite of Gordon. He's cynical, sarcastic, self-destructive, and a bit out of control. Life isn't easy, but he does whatever it takes to fool himself into believing everything will turn out okay in the end. He has a soft side, though. He loves his family and friends, fiercely, and will do whatever is required to see that they're safe. He'd take a bullet for them, in fact. He's rough and gruff, rude and crude, inappropriate, and not everyone likes him. He lives to party and there's no crowd too large to feed his huge energy reservoir.
I won't go into my other characters because what I really wanted to explain is how these two are battling inside me these days. The truth is, just as Gordon had to do, it's time for me to kick the layabouts out of Chadwicke Hall. Noel doesn't want to go; he doesn't want the fun to be over. His worst nightmare is coming true: he has to grow up. But Gordon needs to be alone to deal with his issues, to regroup and recover. In light of all I've said here, this is a metaphor of what I find myself facing. The very real possibility of a stroke has woken me up and I feel it's time to take care of business, to "clean house" and de-clutter my life of those things that no longer serve me. This is the game, after all, and not batting practice. (Oops, another metaphor.)
But what does this mean? It means I'll be taking better care of myself on every level. I'm dropping the things I can't change in favor of working on those I can. I'm locking the door on certain kinds of people from my entering my life. Anyone who sets out to harm me in any way will be put on permanent ignore. They will "cease to be" in my world as if they never existed in the first place. I'll be doing things that are healing for me: gardening, painting, writing, and making music without desire or expectation of reward or notoriety; the doing will have to be reward enough. I won't be partying like I used to do, I'll be meditating more, and I'll avoid conversations that only get me worked up and make me feel out of balance. Metaphorically speaking, Gordon is kicking Noel's arse out of the "house". He can come visit, but he can't live here anymore. He was a lot of fun, but he's weighing me down and has become a dangerous, life-threatening load. I love him, but he can't live here. Tough love.
Sorry if this reads a bit disjointedly. I guess all I really wanted to say is that this scare is good for me in a lot of ways; I see only better days ahead.