Reconnecting with What’s Important

 

quillby Nicholas Woodard

After reading The Parallax, I was able to really Identify with Frank in the hiking story. It’s really easy to lose yourself and your closeness to others that are important in your life because of the monotony of things. You may even start to lack emotion in things that normally made you happy. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy for you to realize what’s really important in your life and what really makes you happy.
Having recently lost someone who was my best friend and that I considered a little brother, I have experienced a wide range of emotion: sadness, sorrow, anger, and regret. But, in the wake of this tragedy, I have been able to experience peace again when playing tennis: a sport that I had lost touch with in the years since playing in high school.
While I have a reminder to never lose touch with the things I love, The Parallax has really helped me organize my thoughts around this tragedy and it will be permanently attached to my memory of my best friend. I believe it has helped me get to figuring out who I am again, and I hope this book is something that others can empathize with in finding themselves as well.

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Discover The Parallax

quillA New Post submitted by Mason Stewart on March 11, 2014

Writing for the purpose of self reflection is a task that most of us never really get around to doing. Many might consider it a complete waste of time. However, in reading the Parallax, the real benefit of writing for self reflection is made clear through Frank’s story. It is interesting to think about how two people experiencing the same moment can have such drasticallly different viewpoints and perspectives on the experience. Writing allows us to transcend a personal experience and break it down in order to see the experience from another perspective. It also allows us to deconstruct our thoughts and perhaps discover a part of your subconscious self that you may not have known or understood. While writing for self reflection is something that most average people probably don’t do or even think about doing, the Parallax helps put into perspective the benefits of doing so on personal effectiveness both in our daily lives and in the workplace. It’s important to know how others perceive you because this may not match with how you wish to be perceived or it may not match with your intentions. The best example is how Kyle, the CEO in the story, is able to slow down and realize how much of an ass he’s being. He’s able to realize this for a moment in time. The experiences of the workshop attendees definitely allowed them to see themselves more clearly and increase their personal effectiveness

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See Yourself With New Understanding

Submitted by Jayme King on 2014/03/10 at 7:38 pm

After reading The Parallax, I realized that I might be able to see my life and daily activities in a different perspective.  This book had very good and detailed examples of how people changed viewpoints after reading about Frank and Sarah’s story.  Some involved relationships, work, or the past that they cannot change.  It seems like today that everyone doesn’t have time for anything.  I find myself using that excuse too often, when in reality, I’m just not using my time wisely.  This book makes you just want to stop time for bit so we can reflect on our lives, past or present.  Here recently, our college has been facing 2 student deaths, one being my basketball teammate.  It has really focused my attention on the “here and now” because life really is too short.  Doing an analysis of yourself, like presented in this book, can help you re-focus and see what really is important in your life.  Having that “a-ha” moment may just be what some people need to redirect their lives.

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Writing– A Lost Art

A Parallax Communitiy Post submitted by Adam Thalla on 2012/11/08 at 3:15 pm

It is quite amazing to see how much of an effect The Parallax has had on everyone that has read it, and how it helped people realize the “power of writing”. I have always enjoyed writing. Back in high school, my favorite classes were english/literature classes. The disappointing thing about college is that there aren’t very many classes that allow us to freely and creatively write. The disappointing thing about many people today, is that writing is a lost art. Many people don’t realize that writing is the basis for many other things such as music, lyrics, theater, and movies. It is people’s ability to write freely and creatively that allow these things to come together. It is discouraging that today people no longer enjoy writing, and reading as well. It is important for us to stress to future generations that writing is a great way to express oneself and control one’s emotions and worries. One great thing about free writing, is that it allow you to go back and re-read your thoughts and feelings and “re-live” them if you please. This is why I find writing to be such a powerful way of expressing yourself.

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Truth & Reality

A Parallax Community Post Submitted by Chris Grant on 2012/04/03 at 11:09 pm
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I agree with other readers of the parallax in that the author has created a very intriguing story and one that can bring goose bumps to your arms because of the reality. We all can connect to the setting because everyone remembers what they were doing on 9/11. It is very easy to connect to the personal struggles of the Beck family and even those struggles of those who attended the writing seminar. I felt as though I was a part of the family watching the tv in the cabin and also there at the seminar relating my personal experiences with the members at my table.  Seeing yourself with new understanding can take on many meanings but I believe that it is truly in regards to accepting truths and realties even if that decision is one of unpopular consequences.  Emotion can get the best of you and truth can be your immediate enemy because of negative perceived consequences. On the other side it is also your long term solution to peace and harmony. Sometimes it takes deep insight to realize that the truth is the correct path and this deep insight can sometimes only be brought out in therapeutic writing sessions. Writing for therapeutic purposes is like singing in the shower, it allows you to express yourself without the doubts of immediate harsh criticisms.

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Emotional Triggers

A Parallax Community Post submitted by Jonas Marschall on 2012/03/05 at 2:45 pm
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The Parallax, a story within a story within a story, tells many different things. Most importantly, it tells us how much people suffer unnecessarily, simply because they fail to grasp other perspectives than their own. Frank Beck misinterprets the situation surrounding his father’s death so that he will walk through life with the guilt of being responsible for it. Frank Beck also misinterprets the situation when his wife’s illness becomes apparent only to establish a marital disconnect that will last for decades. One could say that much sorrow comes from misinterpreting the expressions and reactions of others. Communication with others receives an additional meaning – it should serve as provider of multiple angles at the same setting. Someone else’s viewpoint can rectify much, just as can introspection (does it have to be written?). As a result we may leave old and obsolete positions. The story shows us that this is frequently prompted by events that overwhelm us with emotions. I’m convinced that events of much, much smaller scale than 9/11 can trigger us to discover the parallax!

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The Power of Writing

A Parallax Community Post submitted by Katie Sudkamp on 2012/01/27 at 4:32 am
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The Parallax is an intriguing story that provokes the mind into a different way of thinking. A way of thinking that actually involves writing; writing about your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Each of the characters in the book discovered the healing power of writing.  As an author, William Allen White used this “power” to grieve over the loss of his daughter and to come to the understanding that life in words has so much meaning. I found it very interesting that such a simple thing as writing down the thoughts from your mind could be so powerful. Many people keep journals but who really lets their mind take over and allows themself to write continuously? For me, this was a hard concept to grasp. Today, most people, including myself, have a million things on their mind every minute. Letting my mind just relax and to try and forget about my worries for the day provided much more of a challenge than I thought it would. A challenge that I am ready to take on so I can feel for myself the benefits of the written word. I have only partaken in this adventure a few times so far and already I am feeling the healing benefits of it. When I sit down to write, I let all the thoughts in my head flow onto paper and instantly I feel better. Somehow, seeing all my worries and thoughts on paper make them seem less daunting to me because my mind is no longer exaggerating them into concepts that are bigger than reality. I feel refreshed and like the characters in the book, a weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I strongly encourage those of you contemplating starting this adventure to go with your instincts and take on this initiative. Without a doubt, I believe you will feel more connected with yourself and with others around you.

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Seeing Things Differently

We started up the trail, meeting other couples along the way with looks of dread and needfulness cast on their faces, exchanging glances with us as they passed that echoed a shared sense of knowing,  a reordering of priorities.

–Frank Beck, The Parallax

Searching For Things
“My dad said, the way I saw the world was a gift.”  The words of Oskar Schell, the child who captivated us in the best-selling book and Academy Award nominated “Best Picture of 2011,” Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, resonate with all of us.   We are all searching for something and like Oskar we begin to understand that having the key doesn’t immediately help us know what can be unlocked.  Oskar’s quest “pushes our emotional buttons.”  We recognize ourselves in his need to find things.  We understand his yearning.  We share his emotion.

Shared Emotions
Clarence, a character in The Parallax, recognizes this fact when he says, “You could have been anywhere and affected by 9/11.” That day was a watershed moment for everyone, regardless of their location.  Think about it.  Most of us can describe in vivid detail what we were doing when we learned of the terrorist attack and how we reacted to it.  I, personally, was waiting for a commuter train at the Memorial Hospital Metrolink station in Belleville, Illinois. I remember the emotions of the people riding the train, interacting with one another as they had never done before.  It was as if we were a family and had just learned that other members of our family had been hurt. I don’t think I’d ever experienced the sharing of emotions that occurred that day.  I suspect that nearly everyone has a story of what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, because that day will forever be part of our social consciousness.

Finding Things
Brad Paisley tells us in his hit song, Find Yourself, that although we may go through life thinking we know who we are, it is when we are lost that it is most possible to find yourself. Frank and Sarah, characters in The Parallax, were married for twenty-five years.  Did they really know one another?  Do you really know who you are? Frank and Sarah found themselves in a distant place, the Colorado Rockies, when their world was shaken. I thought about the many ways that 9/11 might have impacted people on that day, and used the tragic event as a backdrop for my story, The Parallax.  I sensed that although everyone was impacted differently, readers could connect with the shared experience of that horrific day.  You don’t need the events of 9/11 to “find yourself.”Use the gift of seeing things differently. Discover what’s important to you. Embark on the journey, identifying those things you value, the places you enjoy, the things you treasure, and, most importantly, the people you care about; and envision your life in a new way.

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Discarded Time

Feeling Lost
Everyone knows the feeling but as adults, we have learned to hide our emotional scars, leaving jagged timelines in our lives, discarding moments we choose not to confront, leaving relationships that we’ve allowed to be damaged. The writers of ABC’s hit series, Lost, recognized the universality of this feeling as they layered metaphor upon metaphor, week after week. The series captured viewers’ shared emotions, defying the possibility of anyone being able to verbalize the show’s meaning. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to deconstruct a feeling. Can anyone really find words to describe fear, longing, regret, or remorse?

Making Connections
Dr. Katherine Stein, a character in The Parallax, recognizes this fact when she asks everyone in her workshop to think with the story, instead of about it. The real question, when examining our stories is not, “What’s this story about?” The real question is more difficult to put into words and can only be answered with an affective analysis, connecting feelings of chaos, confusion, and fear that characterize our lives as we search for restitution and forgiveness.

Yearning Forgiveness
Singer Bryan Adams touches on this need in his hit song, Please Forgive Me. We spend our lives trying to get things right, but often, as a result of our imperfections, we fail. We make mistakes. We hurt and we are hurt. We yearn for restitution, wanting to reconnect but fear failure. We are left with inaction and ineffectiveness. We live in a world that has taught us to discard those things that are broken. Sadly we have forgotten how to fix things. But it’s possible to reclaim those discarded moments.  Real forgiveness requires sincere reflection which can be achieved through self-awareness, self-direction, and self-control. Take your life back. Determine what’s important to you and make choices based on those values—you’ll be glad you did.

 

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Leadership, Love and Change

 

Fall Trees

Photo by Donald R. Rickert, PhD

Change Is a Verb
Aspen trees paint the mountain landscape with a blaze of gold as fall approaches—a welcome change from the hot-dry summer months. We await the metamorphosis with great anticipation. Similarly, we often treat change in our lives as if its’ a manifestation of inevitable consequences. This viewpoint is embedded in our language: Change happens. We’re under the grip of change. Couples in love recognize that an effective relationship requires that we understand that love is a verb, not a noun. It’s not good enough to fall into love. We must constantly work at loving. And so it is with change. Spencer Johnson, MD, in his best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese, uses cheese as a metaphor for change to teach us this lesson. He tells us that we have to plan for change—“Smell the cheese often.” Effective change requires that we view it not as something that happens to us, but something that we facilitate through the choices we make. We act so we aren’t acted upon and, as we do, we become a model for others.

couple holding handsEffective Change Inspires Others
St. Louis musical artist Erin Bode recently released a song, The Space Between, inspired by ten-year old Katelyn Jackson, who is afflicted with a congenital heart defect. Erin used audio recordings that doctors had made of Katelyn’s heartbeat, during her years of treatment, as the background rhythm for the song. As an artist, Erin understands that her music can tell a story. She created a song that allows us to connect with our deepest emotions, becoming a model for what her lyrics implore—“Maybe, if you hold my hand…” She demonstrates how we can become a positive force for change as her song helps, not only Katelyn, but thousands of others.

Effective Change Makes a Difference
It’s when we understand that we have the power to impact our future through the choices we make that we become truly effective. Accessing our emotions and connecting with our stories move us toward that goal. Our stories allow us to see ourselves with new understanding, providing an impetus for change, marked not by passivity and acceptance, but distinguished by active involvement and inspiration. Kyle, a character in The Parallax, learns this lesson from Nicole, another character in the book, who unsuspectingly through her leadership becomes his role mode, influencing a positive change in his behavior. Everyone has the opportunity for leadership.  Ken Blanchard, author of The One-Minute Manager, reminds us that “leadership is a journey, not a destination.” Leadership, love and change, they are all journeys. As we embark on these journeys, we learn that we each have a role as we interconnect with others, recognizing that the outstretched hand that we clasp may be the giver as well as the recipient of help. We discover a truth—“Maybe, if you hold my hand…”

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