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Reading and Healing Idea #5: Locating a Turning Point

I’m always interested in that point during a difficult time when things begin to turn.  I’m interested in that moment when something new happens—when an entirely new possibility begins to emerge out of the chaos.  Even if its only a glimpse—an image—the embryo of an image—or tinier—a single cell.

Once, several years ago now, I had a dream in which I could see for some reason the inside of King Tut’s tomb.  One of those odd dreams—I hadn’t been thinking about King Tut, not a bit.  But in the dream I could see inside his tomb and I could see that his body was bathed in a kind of fluid and the fluid, akin to some kind of primordial soup, was made up of organic molecules.

An organic molecule as an image of a turning point?

In Folly, the turning point for Rae, the central character, comes by way of a book.  While in the psychiatric hospital, trying to recover, longing to return to home and work, but at the same time terrified, this happens:

Into this tangle of inchoate yearnings and inexpressible fears had dropped a book, one of those strangely assorted and badly worn paperbacks abandoned by patients or donated by the carton to such places as mental hospitals.  It was missing its cover and the first dozen pages, but the remainder fell into Rae’s confused and heavily sedated mind like a seed into loam.

A book about a man building a house.

And, after reading:

Great-uncle Desmond’s skeletal home came to her as in a dream.  In truth, during those months most things came to her as in a dream, but this one did not fade.  Instead, it blossomed swiftly into full potential:  She would pull herself together, she would go and rebuild Desmond’s house, she would lift his walls and dwell within them quietly all the rest of her days.  Everything that House was lay there waiting for her to take it up: House as shelter, House as permanence, House as continuation and a legacy, comfort and challenge, safety and beauty, symbol and reality joined as one.

House as seed.

I have this notion that if we could become better readers of such seeds—such turning points—if we could see them—and recognize them—in literature—then we might become more skillful at recognizing them in our own lives.  Oh.  I wonder if that could be a seed.

The idea then: to pay attention to a story—or to several stories—and to watch for that moment when things, however faintly, and perhaps even tenuously, begin to turn.
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Of interest:

In March of 2008 the Hubble Space Telescope detected, for the first time, an organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet outside of our Solar System.


Hubble found the tell-tale signature of methane in the atmosphere of the Jupiter-sized extrasolar planet HD 189733b. Under the right circumstances, methane can play a key role in prebiotic chemistry – the chemical reactions considered necessary to form life as we know it. Although methane has been detected on most of the planets in our Solar System, this is the first time any organic molecule has been detected on a world orbiting another star.

You can read more about this here.