Life in Translation

I am not one of those people who find a medium’s lack of specificity unconvincing. On the contrary, I think I would be more skeptical if a medium could take one look at a subject and describe every dead relative in one go.

The times I have heard mediums attempting to communicate with the dead I am always reminded of my own efforts to write a story. When I write, I feel as though I am listening, not making, and this listening begins with vague images that interest me and upon which I then focus until the images become clearer and lead to other images.

I think the listening distinction is important because it takes the pressure off the writer. You must enter a relaxed state to listen. You must shut your mind down and wait for whatever it is you are listening for to speak. This makes writing a less formidable task. You don’t have to make everything up from nothing, you only have to hone your skills as a translator.

I know there are charlatans all about us, and I cannot say precisely what mediums see and hear when they are talking to the dead, but I know they see and hear something because we all do. Everyone who has ever written a story or painted a picture or started a business or changed careers uses much the same language: “The idea came to me.”

And indeed it does. The ideas always come to us; we don’t go get them. Everyone’s life, after all, is a story being told in the present tense. Everyone is  listening to suggestions and translating them into actions—into dinners and movies and families and stories alike. But nothing can come to you if you don’t listen, and nothing heard can be built upon if you aren’t patient. Like the mediums asking questions of their subject, we are all tuning and tuning the frequency of our interest, and as we do, we come to understand that strange paradox, that we must grow increasingly still to receive the information needed to move us forward.

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