How Do You Navigate Life?

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You’re a wanderer, a cosmic vagrant lost in space and time. You’ve spent your life stumbling about in a drunken stupor. You flit aimlessly from one moment to the next. You have no idea where you came from, and you have no idea where you’re supposed to go.

What’s your purpose? Do you have a purpose? All you know for certain is that at some point you’ll run out of gas, that your body, your vehicle for this cosmic journey, will break down. From time to time, you wonder where you’ll be when that happens. Will you have reached your destination, or will you instead realize all too late that you were stranded, shipwrecked and left to die alone in a foreign place that you were never meant to call your own?

If only you could tell North from South. You’re certain that with a push in the right direction you could someday realize and fulfill your purpose. You sometimes wonder, “How do I navigate life?”

1. Find your compass.

You know you exist for a reason. You’ve known since you were a child. It’s a fundamental component of your humanity. It’s hard-wired into your DNA. There was a time when you heard the cosmos’s call. But age and responsibilities ushered in a host of distractions, until one day you realized you were lost. You despaired. You wondered if all that mumbo-jumbo about purpose and design might be just a bunch of whohaa.

To rediscover your purpose, to figure out the direction you must travel, you first have to find your compass. It was custom built for you. It guides you, tells you where to go so you can push forward confidently in the dark. To find it, you must tune out exterior distractions. You must reflect in silence and in prayer. You must examine yourself, with all of your many strengths and faults. You must dive into your deepest and truest self. There, in the stillness of your heart you’ll find it, a burning white-hot fire, a passion so brilliant you’ll wonder how you ever could have missed it.

2. Follow your compass.

Finding it will do no good if you aren’t willing to pack up your bags and move. You’ve discovered some inkling of what it is you may be called to do, a general sense of direction that calls to you from the very fabric of space and time itself. Now you’re faced with the noble task of pursuing it.

Following your compass is not like following a map. There are no clearly marked roads or highways, no drawn-to-scale features designed to tell you how many miles in your journey remain. Nor will you be provided an exhaustive list of all the perils, dangers and mysteries you might encounter along the way. You have only an awareness of direction, a resonant hum inside your soul that deepens as you align with your purpose and diminishes as you turn away from it.

You won’t be certain what you’re supposed to do. But by following the needle in your compass, by pressing forward, you’ll find clues, road signs, symbols and landmarks to help you navigate, to orient you, to help you know where you stand.

3. Keep your compass in sight.

To navigate successfully to the very end, to find your way home, you must always keep your compass in sight. You should examine your progress daily and be willing to set aside distractions. There are exotic lands all around us, and all too often you’ll be tempted to stray from the path to explore them. But the more you stray, the more difficult it will be to find your way back. You must always hold the light of your compass close.

The answers you seek can be yours.

Life is daunting. In a universe where you can so easily lose your way, any effort to find yourself will seem rife with futility. But by locating and following your compass, and by never letting it out of your sight, you’ll soon see the cosmos transformed, from an opaque and incomprehensible void to a place of growing, learning and understanding. Armed with your compass, you can be confident that one day, with the help of your Creator, you will at last approach the throne of existence, ready to receive the answers you seek and more.

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3 Ways Love is Like Magic

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1. Love is elemental.

Like Magic, Love is irreducible. Its existence transcends reason. It must be accepted without proof. Love is to the soul what Magic is to the physical universe, a fundamental force of the heart that breathes life into all of humanity.

2. Love transforms.

Like Magic, Love begets change. It has its genesis in the human heart, where it transforms the mind and the soul so that their chief concern becomes the health and welfare of others. Love blossoms, seeds and propagates, taking root like wildflowers, invoking a spiritual metamorphosis that shapes and restructures the whole of civilization.

3. Love is self-sustaining.

Like Magic, Love is an inexhaustible reservoir of energy. The more it’s used, the greater its abundance. Like the miracle of the fish and the loaves, it multiples and grows, so that none might go hungry.

Love is, in fact, a unique species of Magic.

If Magic is the force that binds the universe, then Love is the force that binds the heart. It is primordial; it is before space and time. It has always existed, and it will continue to exist after our passing.

Love is our progenitor, our sustainer and our destination. In it we will find the meaning and the fullness of our existence, if only we have the courage to heed its call.

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What should I do? I need your help!

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Right. So here’s the deal.

Since October of last year, due to full-time work, my writing and other obligations, I’ve only managed to post one blog per week. For now and the fore-seeable future, I’ll have to stick with that schedule, but I’d like to experiment by trying out other smaller activities throughout the week.

That’s where you come in.

What would you like to see? This blog is as much about you as it is about me. I’m open to pretty much anything; I want this to be a time of exploration, of experimentation and creativity. I’ve got a few ideas of my own (some of which I’ll share in the comments if we can get a conversation going.)

Let’s see what we can come up with together!

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Merry Christmas!

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As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this doesn’t constitute a full length blog. I’ve been incredibly busy preparing for the holiday; despite my best efforts, I haven’t had time enough to write. Regularly scheduled blogging will resume next week.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

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How Your Imagination Is Like a Mirror

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I’ve always been fascinated by reflections.

On the surface, a reflection is so ordinary, so mundane, so uninteresting. And why not? We see them everywhere we go. We look at our twin in the mirror every morning. We catch glimpses of upside down skies in puddles left behind by rainstorms every Spring. And we know — have known since early childhood — that they’re nothing more than reflected rays of light. How can something so simple and so common possibly be interesting?

But what if a reflection were something more? What if, whenever you looked in the mirror, you glimpsed the doings of another world, parallel in every way to our own? Perhaps these are not merely rays of light reflected back from our universe, but rays of light projected from another. Maybe, this other universe is populated with its own people, each gazing into their own reflections, worlds stacked upon worlds. And perhaps some of them are gazing back at us.

Suddenly, by the incredible power of the imagination, something ordinary has been transformed into something extraordinary. Your vision has been forever altered. For the rest of your life, when you look in the mirror, a part of you, if only a very small part, will wonder if the man or the woman you see every morning is really just a reflection.

And that’s not all.

The sense of mystery and childlike wonder that you experience in your imagination, it bounces back. It’s reflected, like light off a mirror. You begin to see ordinary things in this new light, and you suddenly realize that they’re not so mundane and uninteresting after all.

In the case of a simple reflection, you might ponder the nature of light. You might wonder what makes it bounce from one surface to the next. Eventually, you’ll feel the need to search for answers. And when you do, you’ll discover just how surreal and otherworldly reality actually is.

Once you do, neither you nor the world around you will ever be the same.

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Who Am I?

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Hello! My name is Jeff, and I’m a writer.

Well, hold on.

I should probably lay one secret to rest before we embark on this journey together. My name isn’t really Jeff. It’s James. Jeff Coleman is a pen name that I dreamed up a few months ago, based on the initials of my first and last name. When I first decided to share my stories with the world, I was shy and unsure. I believed that a pseudonym could provide me with comfort and security, and that, to a certain extent, it could protect me from failure. But as time wore on, I began to realize that in order to forge genuine lasting relationships built on friendship and trust, I would ultimately have to put my true self out there, including my real name. I realized that failure is a part of life, and that I could grow closer to my friends and readers by being honest and open about my mistakes from the start. Though I’ve grown attached to the name Jeff and plan to continue using it, I’d like my readers to know who Jeff really is. So, let me extend to you a warm virtual hand in greeting. “Hi, my name is James, and it’s very nice to meet you!”

Now, with that out of the way…

Who am I? That’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not that I don’t know who I am (although I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always know the answer as well as I’d like.) I just find it difficult to figure out what to say or how to say it. Don’t worry, the irony of being a writer and having trouble describing myself is not lost on me…

Let’s start with the reason for this blog in the first place.

I love to tell stories. I’ve been writing since third grade — in fact, if you’re really lucky, I’ll post the story that started it all, a tale about a leprechaun who loves green food, in a future blog 😉 I’ve always had my “head in the clouds,” as the old cliché goes. There was a very brief period in my life between seventh and eighth grade when I believed I was too old to play and use my imagination and that it was time to start thinking and acting like an “adult.” Thank God I grew out of that!

As a kid, I was obsessed with fantasy. I loved to dream of worlds that were different from our own, and could spend hours exploring the vast and limitless vistas of the imagination. I was picked on a lot growing up, so while the other kids were out socializing or playing sports, I was indoors by myself reading books. It wasn’t great from a developmental point of view, but it did give me a unique perspective, as well as plenty of time to think and imagine.

I also came to love and appreciate the beauty of reality through the lens of science. I was fortunate enough to have a dad who could answer many of the vexing questions that kids will inevitably ask, and his ability to explain things to me in a way that I could understand sparked a fire in my heart that would only grow with time. When I wasn’t dreaming about witches and wizards or knights and dragons, I was thinking about atoms and molecules or electricity and magnetism.

As an adult, my passions began to coalesce into two branches: art and science. In college, I attended a ton of classes in English and Fine Art Photography before finally deciding to transfer into Computer Science, and along the way I had a very intense and passionate love affair with Math and Physics. It’s with both perspectives, art and science, that I’ve attempted to make sense of this strange thing we call the universe.

Interestingly enough, my upbringing was as much religious as it was scientific, and for this reason, I’ve always had a deeply spiritual outlook on life. I’m Catholic by creed, and take my faith seriously, though for many years now I’ve been deeply confused about the things I believe, and have had to ask myself a lot of very tough questions. I’ve had all of my core assumptions repeatedly called into question and have, for years, felt adrift in a sea of uncertainty and anxiety. Yet, for all the discomfort, it’s that very same doubt which has seeded my heart with a profound love of philosophy and a hunger to know and understand exactly what the world is and why it’s here.

When I was younger, I used to worry about doing everything right. I was afraid that minor mistakes could have catastrophic consequences. But now, as I look back on my life, I see just how perfectly everything fits together. I’ve come to view my life as a mosaic built from the smallest of moments which, in and of themselves, seem random and insignificant, yet when brought together form a beautifully choreographed whole. There is no doubt in my mind that we exist in this world for a reason.

And that’s where we come full circle.

I believe that my purpose is to tell stories.

I’m not delusional or arrogant enough to think that my stories are God’s gift to the world, or that without them the world would be a cold and dreary void. Writing is simply a part of who I am. I want to tell stories, and I want to share those stories with others.

What have I been working on?

I published my first short story, The Sign, a few months ago. I’ve also completed the first draft of a middle grade children’s fantasy about a boy who, with a magic wand, accidentally makes his sister disappear. Finally, I’m working on two novels for adults.

Do I have any favorite books?

I’m glad you asked 😉 There are a few books and authors which hold a special place in my heart. They are, in no particular order: “The Dark Tower” and “The Shining,” by Stephen King; “Neverwhere,” “American Gods” and “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman; “Harry Potter,” by J.K. Rowling; and “The Stranger,” by Albert Camus.

Honorable mention also goes to “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White; “The Night Circus,” by Erin Morgenstern; “Ender’s Game,” by Orson Scott Card; and “The Name of the Wind,” by Patrick Rothfuss.

Anything else?

Not really. I just wanted to give you some idea of who I am. A very special bond exists between Writer and Reader, and I believe that this bond is more easily formed when the two know each other first.

And who are you? I’d love for you to introduce yourself in the comments below.

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