Ascending Spiral was a finalist in its category of the Eric Hoffer Awards.
Each year, Carolyn Howard-Johnson selects a number of books she considers to be innovative, pleasurable to read and with an addition to knowledge and understanding. I am honoured that she has included this novel in her 2013 list.
A valued honour:
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Ascending Spiral has a long list of 5 star reviews. It is the journey of a person through many lifetimes, in order to make amends for a terrible ancient crime: destroying all life on a planet like Earth. Right now, this person is Pip, who knows he is here either to witness the destruction of humanity, or be an agent in saving us.
To do his work, he needed to recall a few of his many past lives, and the majority of the book covers exciting times full of challenges, going round and round from life to life, but always learning and growing.
Would you like to join Pip in saving a future for our children, and their children and grandchildren in perpetuity?
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Ascending Spiral is printed in the USA, the UK and Australia. If your local shop or library doesn't have a copy yet, please pester them to get it.
Marvelous Spirit Press is the fiction imprint of Loving Healing Press, which publishes books to do with psychological healing. I have the honour of regularly editing books for them. Although distance has prevented us from ever meeting, I consider the publisher Victor Volkman and his wife Dr Marian Volkman to be friends. Marian is a colleague of great wisdom and experience, and is the president of the Traumatic Incident Reduction Association.
In 2008, a young woman came to me as a victim of crime. I'd been warned that she was suicidal. She started to cry when I asked her to tell me her story. For five minutes, every time she tried to speak, tears ran down her face, sobs shook her body and she needed to wipe her nose. Hunched forward, hugging herself, all she could do was to feel her despair.
"Come on, Alison," I said, "we're going for a walk." I led her outside. Speaking gently, calmly, and just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the traffic, I said, "Alison, look at the sky. See the color. Don't put a name on it, just see it. The clouds. They're just shapes."
A truck went by. "Hear that sound. It's just a sound. And now the smell. Don't judge it, don't name it, just experience it. And look at this wall, that pattern on it." We walked a few steps. "Feel the pressure of the ground on your feet. Just feel it. And how your legs work. And your breath: chest rising and falling. That tree. Look, every leaf is different."
Slowly we walked around the block. Waving blades of grass... the pressure of her T-shirt on her back... the look of a rose... the crunch of gravel under our feet... the pattern a butterfly wove in the air... I focused her on Now. This moment. This instant. This.
In ten minutes, we were back in our chairs. She could now tell me of her tragedy. She'd been pregnant. While tidying, she found the tools for shooting up heroin. When her guy came home, she confronted him: drugs or me. He bashed her up, so severely that she lost the baby.
We needed two more sessions. Then she left my area, back to her family.
Last week, I met her again. Health and contentment shone out of her. She carried a two-year-old girlie. "Hi Pip, remember me?"
"Alison. Of course I do."
"Claire, sweetheart, say hello to Dr Lipkin."
Kids are my joy. I made friends with little Claire.
"I'm so glad to see you! I now have a lovely husband, and this little darling, and life is terrific!" To my delight, she blamed me for her great improvement.
Then there are the emails, from all around the planet. Mostly they're from kids. So, I have hundreds of grandchildren, most of whom I'll never meet. Here is one I'll call Maria Rodriguez:
Dear Dr. Pip,
I don't really know how to do this because I never ask for help but I typed "I hate myself" in google and you came up first so I clicked it. I saw what you've done for other people and I was hoping that maybe you could help me.
I just turned 16. Ever since I was 14 I've thought about suicide. My mom found out a few months ago and she yelled at me, said I was disappointing her, and to be honest I don't think she understands how serious I am about it.
I hate myself because I'm ugly, stupid, fat, can't be loved, and I'm a liar. Kids made fun of me, so I made up stories about myself so that someone would talk to me and have even the slightest interest in me. However, I've been thinking that if something happened to these people, they'd die not knowing that I lied. So, I told my two best friends. One was completely understanding and is helping me. The other hates me and won't talk to me which is a constant reminder of what a terrible person I am. I can't tell some people because I have no idea how to find them and I feel terrible because I can never take back what I did. And there's one person I want to tell but I'm afraid of her hating me too. My friend said to tell her when we get older but I can't guarantee how long I'll live. Then she said just to tell her. I can't because she has been my role model since I was 5 and now she talks to me and I don't want to lose that.
I hate what I've become, and I want to change. I've tried really hard but I couldn't do it. No matter what I did something always kept me back whether it was the kids at school calling me fat, whore, lesbian, and retarded or my parents just making me feel inadequate to my other siblings, something always messed me up. I feel like suicide is my only way out. I don't have money to pay you but I was hoping that you could help me despite that. Please help...I don't want to live another day where I wish I was dead.
With love, Maria
We have now exchanged eight emails. The second-last was:
I'm sorry this has taken me so long but I've been meaning to thank you. You really changed the way I look at life. I just have one last question:
How can I forgive myself for all the mistakes I've made?
And my answer:
Maria my darling, thank you for cheering me up. I've been very tired after work all day, and dropped my bundle a bit. Then you picked me up.
There is no such thing as a mistake, a fault, or a defect. This is my view of everyone:
You are perfect.
Some of the things you do are excellent.
Most of the things you do are OK.
The rest are the growing opportunities.
If you find that a past act was a mistake, that's proof that you've gained in wisdom. If you could do it again, you'd do it better. So, congratulate yourself.
If a past mistake has caused harm to yourself or someone else, then apologize within your heart. If it's possible and appropriate, apologize to the other people affected. If possible and appropriate, make restitution. But there is no need for guilt or shame. Celebrate the fact that now you know better. Work out how to do the same kind of thing if the situation arises.
Maria, only two things matter in this life: what you take with you when you die, and what you leave behind in the hearts of others. Everything else is Monopoly money.
What can you take with you: Lessons learnt, gained wisdom -- or the opposite: hate, bitterness, blame and the like. So, you either advance in spiritual development, or go backward, or of course a bit of each.
Look after the heart, the Love, and you can let go of everything else.
Thank you for sharing the planet with me.
And finally, for now:
That helped so much. Thank you so much.
I have this ability to heal hurt, to lead people from despair and helplessness to strength and Love. This gives me joy, so, whatever may go wrong in my life, I am content. I am content despite seeing all the terrible things on our world. I see the craziness, the suffering, the way people hurt themselves, each other, and the wonderful natural environment we're a part of. But it's all right. I hate it but accept it, both at the same time.
What craziness am I talking about? When people ask me to introduce myself, I often say I'm a visitor from a faraway galaxy. At home, I'm an Historian of Horror, so Earth is my favorite place in all the Universe. Where else do you find an organized game (called war) in which intelligent beings kill each other? Where else are child-raising practices designed to damage children? And best of all, where else do you see the entire economy of a species designed to destroy the life support system of their planet? For an Historian of Horror, that's delicious.
Well, one day I learned that this joke is based on truth. Indeed, I am a visitor to your planet. Don't believe me? I'm just an old guy with a gray beard, right? A professional grandfather children love, a fellow whose sense of humor keeps getting away from him... not so. I really am a visitor from off planet, and I'm here to do a job.
I was not always content with life. For much of my existence (which, as you'll read, has lasted over 12,000 years), I was hurting. But, you see, a person is like a diamond. Put some coal into a place of great pressure and heat, and it becomes the hardest jewel known. A person is like steel. Put iron in red-hot coke and blast it with oxygen for nine hours, then drop it, red hot, into cold liquid, then heat it again, and you have hardened and tempered steel. I needed all that suffering to turn me into a tool designed for my job. That job is to help you save your life, and the lives of those you love. Like everyone on this planet, you're in great danger, and my reason for being here, being a human for now, is to be part of the effort to save us.
When it was time, I was shown what I had to know for my task. This book is the account of what I learnt. Let me tell you my story, and you can judge for yourself. I'll start with the earliest recall of living on your planet I've been given, on an island off Ireland.
Robert William Case
Christina St Clair
Dr Carl Stonier
Christina St Clair
Sara van Dyck
Home page Editing service LiFE Award: Literature For Environment