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Elementary Dear Reader! Inspired by the New Sherlock Holmes
Victoria Moore's View Outside A Car Window
Daring To Uncover The Mysteries Of Life
A couple of weeks ago I was watching PBS' Mystery Masterpiece series "Sherlock" ,starring the brilliant British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, when I became fascinated by a method he used to assimilate clues called a "mind palace". Once free of human distractions he started moving his hands very rapidly while his eyes shifted back and forth in sync with the pictures forming in the space in front of him. He was trying to figure out how liberty and hound were connected in a case based on the popular mystery story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Hounds of the Baskervilles".Updated to with a cool computer-esque flair, the main reason this particular scene mesmerized me so much was that my current life has morphed with my new reality creating an assimilation with my past. Shiny and luminous as a dirty penny that's been accidentally wased and dried in the pocket of a pair of old Levi's my once dormant dreams were fresh enough to savor again.
So what have I been doing with this new chapter of my life? I've been building my own "mind palace" with bricks made out of memories. Within this structure is an inner chamber filled with personal style. Funky textiles mix with low-heeled street shoes, girly jewelry and corsages, pastel colors and daydreams about designers Mary Katrantzou, Prabal Gurung and Isabel Marant. My writing has also become an inner chamber within my "mind palace".
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I didn't know there was a way to work through past hurts, current struggles and future anxietes on the page until I started going to the Cancer Support Community-Benjamin Center's Writing Group. Now, every Wednesday from 1:00-3:00 pm I go there and meet with other like-minded people to write about things that are geared to help us adjust. When the topic was about "silence and how it impacts my listening" I wrote:
"Silence is something I don't experience much of during the day as the bustle of the city usually interrupts it with car horns, rap music, people talking or yelling and dogs barking, so when I do have silence I'm able to fully think with my whole body".
This new physical state emerged on April 13 at CSC's "Spring Dance". Held at the same time on the same day, 4:00-6:30 pm Friday, as their Open Mic it gave everyone a chance to blow off steam by getting down on the dance floor. Someone even asked me to tap a little so I obliged briefly in between the boom shaka laka grooves. The way we all connected reminded me of other impromptu dance parties I'd attended, Helen's disco party in Ms. Irwin's class at Grant Elementary School, the boom box old school throw down at Santa Monica College's bus stop on Pico Blvd., and the Friday dance days to Motown records in my 6th grade class at Manhattan Place Elementary School. But all in all, the silence that released these connections is a new development in my life and one I cherish and seek out daily to center and ground myself.
From my experiences in the CSC Writing Group I also learned to open myself up to additional writing opportunities that would help me as I dealt with breast cancer. The "Create Your Story" writing class, sponsored by Elizabeth's Canvas and facilitated by actor/writer/life coach, Julie Cobb, proved to be the perfect 5-week fit. Again, I met with an enlightened group of talented people, but this time we gathered in a really colorful, alternative space called "Outside of the Box" in Santa Monica, California on Sundays from 2:30-4:30 pm. Designed to evoke my journey instead of my struggles and angst this class really took me out of myself as a writer.
One exercise, in particular, really liberated me and allowed me to soar. We were all instructed by Julie to select a quote she'd copied from a book to finish with our own prose. I selected the quote,"I don't know about you but for me there comes that moment during every visit to the Farmers' Market when I wanted more." Here's a sample of what I wrote:
"It was usually after I'd tasted all of the samples of apple juice and eaten all of the cubes of buffalo milk cheese, slices of oranges and pieces of pluots. Why didn't the vendors let you have seconds to take home?"
Two years ago, when I started my breast cancer journey, I would've never dreamed that I would be able to build something as significant as as "mind palace" to help me deal with my process but now, after starting one, I can't imagine facing the future without one.