"Naomi Rose has been instrumental in keeping the project of the book Im writing alive. Shes incredibly insightful, and she always comes from a very deep place. Her insight, understanding, encouragement, and deep caring have helped me to remove confusion, show me a path, and keep me inspired and going at times when I would have given up. There is no one else I know who could have aided me in such a way. I would recommend Naomi to anyone who was serious about creating a work. She has really gotten me through a lot of rough times, and given me hope and direction."
Billy Weprin, on our working together
About my work with Billy
Billy Weprin is a truly thoughtful person, in the best sense of the world. He does not take life for grantednot very often, anyway. He has not outgrown the ability to wonder, and to see the miraculous in the seemingly ordinary. He likes toand, to a large extent, by nature mustexplore the realms behind the realms, what it is that holds everything together. His is not just a conceptual exploration. On some level, he really knows that everything is connected to everything else.
From the time I first met him at a class we both took, we had wonderful conversationsnot idly philosophical, but shimmering with a remembrance of the preciousness of life that I, certainly, can go for days, even weeks without consciously holding in my mind and heart. I discovered that his interests were vast and deephe was a thinker, and a painter, and a husband, and a fatherand that our sensibilities were gratifyingly in tune. When he told me that he wanted to write a book, I was delighted. Any book that he would write would interest me and feed my soul. And to be able to helpand to get paid for it, too! Well, life was good.
But the formulation of a book from an idea, rather than a particular story, is not always easy to do. It can take some time for the vastness, cross-fertilization, and multileveled dimension of an idea to "come down to earth" enough to find and accept its limits, so that the story can be told. Billy was in this situation. We would sit at my kitchen table, a sketchbook before us, in my hope that we could translate his elusive vision into rough pictures, if not yet words. "Youre an artist," I said. "You know how to create from nothing."
But he had never written a book before, and it wasnt so easy to jump from painting into writing. The "nothing" he was starting from was bigger and blanker and more overwhelming than the "nothing" of his blank canvases. It took me a while to realize that because he did not have experience as a writer, he did not yet know how to trust his own innate knowings about what and how he wanted to write. The infamous "inner critic" had a field day setting him up against more well-established, successful, respected writers and professionals in the field: "You dont have enough knowledge to write convincingly about the subject, you dont have the credentials, the authority, the sheer volume of data. There are more books you need to research before writing. There will always be more books to research before you can write."
The subject of his book addressed the takeover by science of wonder in our world, and how we need to get it back without needing to be an expertin order to be sustained by and experience the unity of life. The paradox was that while Billy sought to unleash the miraculous universe from the ownership of the scientific view, his own perspective had been taken over by a similar authority regarding writingsome external idea of "How A Writer Should Be."
Slowly, painstakingly, clarity began to emerge. Billy was able to articulate his deepest thoughts and yearnings on paper, and to appreciate them himself. He began to see that "Being A Writer" was not an image but an inner experience, and that his own was as authentic as anyone elses. He began to sense that he could trust his own way of doing things and putting his ideas across. He began to realize that although he did need to do additional research, it wasnt an endless task. He began to understand that when he listened compassionately and deeply to himself, he trustedand becamehis own authority. This authority came naturally, as recognized that he did not need to convince the scientists, but instead that his own status as an attentive, wondering human beinga "lay scientist," an "amateur" (i.e., lover of) sciencewas enough.
In the Introduction of The Gift of the Day, Billy wrote:
"We go about our lives without questioning the very familiar, everyday world around us. Weve lost our sense of wonder about the universe. Modern life has cut us off in many different ways. For example, we live in enclosed, environmentally modulated places. Were cut off from the mystery of nature. We dont experience the change of stars overhead, the movement of birds through our neighborhood. We may be aware of the change of seasons, but this is modified by our not being in touch with growing things. But other societies, past and present, are more in touch with the renewal of life, like spring.
Were also cut off from questioning our world, because of scientific philosophy, which seems to have the goal of making things understandable and banishing mystery. For the past few hundred years, this philosophy of science has sought to say that the universe can be known and understood in a straightforward way.
In the Age of Belief, when the church, mosque, or synagogue was the center of what was known, was life more "understood" than it is today? Has science created a schism in the modern mind? In our age, the welter of acquired knowledge is vast. It is impossible for any one person to keep up with the intricacies in the various branches of science; we can only hope to understand the sweep of the broad brush. At the same time, one wonders if the fragmentation of knowledge as we see it expressed in the ever more subtle exploration of science has given rise to a kind of thinking that is unable to glean unity from the mountains of accumulated data. Have we, in the light of what we have discovered, been able to translate that into an integrated view of our universe and our planet, with its teeming life and consciousness? In the nineteenth century, Nietzche declared, "God is dead." Today we see Science and Religion largely separated, with both sides stating that the two are mutually incompatible, like oil and water.
It is time for a new and fresh approach."
After many heroic struggles and equally heroic times of persistence, Billy came into alignment with the very subject of his book. It would be a simple book, a book written by an artistperhaps with picturesthat shared his own wonder at the ways of the universe from the perspective of an artist and a mystic as well as a lay scientist. It would be a book that could cause the reader to look in any direction, once the book was put down, and see and know and treasure the ordinary, miraculous gifts of the day.
From Chapter 1, "The Familiar"
It is a warm summers morning in Oakland, California. I am sitting opposite the Claremont Hotel, a large beautiful white building perched on a hill. Flowers of all colors bloom on the paths. There is a slight breeze that rustles the leaves in a row of plane trees. On the street, a man and woman stroll by dressed for tennis, racquets in hand. A lone dog ambles up to investigate the slice of pizza Im about to consume.
A thought arises: How is this possible?
How is it I am sitting here? From where comes the air that fills my lungs, the light that pervades, the energy to move, to thinkto be? We live in a busy world where we are accustomed to work, to perform, to maintain. There are responsibilities and obligations. Is there any time to contemplate existence?
Yet behind all that we are and strive for is an unseen world, which sustains us. I sit on a bench made of wood and iron. The wood grew in a forest; the iron, a product of a star.
Read other client samples: