Tag Archives: meditation

The Language of Your Inner Demons

I’ve been revisiting “Xena: Warrior Princess” on Netflix. In an episode called Paradise Found, Xena and Gabrielle find themselves in an isolated compound where they each become more themselves.

Gabrielle — the storyteller who often serves as Xena’s moral compass — finds yoga, cleansing, and stillness.

Xena gets more jumpy and agitated, wounds appear on her body, and she keeps envisioning herself hurting or torturing Gabrielle. Once Xena loses her mind, she wanders through the gardens killing songbirds and bunnies. It’s as horrific and goofy as it sounds. If the darkness in you lives, no one is safe, not even the people you love, says their mysterious guru.

Facing one’s demons is a massive part of my books. If every writer has one theme that permeates their work, that one is mine. Every character has to go through it, whether it means reconciling a relationship or — literally — fighting a monster born from their own fear or shame. Another line from that episode of Xena goes: Goodness going to waste in peace, without evil to keep it alive and fighting.

I, and my characters, need both to be whole.

I’m convinced that our inner demons are on our side. They’re part of us, after all. We get into trouble because we speak different languages and we’re too afraid of them to try and bridge the gap. When you have dark or selfish impulses, that’s your little demon-voice telling you that you have an unfulfilled need. Hear its intention, but don’t listen to its suggestion. It doesn’t understand what consequences are — only that it loves you and you’re not happy.

The same is true if you go deeper. When your inner demon tells you to off yourself… it’s responding to your unhappiness. It knows you’re in pain and has no concept of healing. It loves you, and wants to help. It doesn’t realize it’s not helping. Your demons only understand you as much as you understand them.

What I love about Xena and others of her archetype is her willingness to learn that language and investigate what others are afraid to see. Some speak the language with compassion and understanding; while others only learn enough to hear what they want to hear.That journey, and what they do with that understanding, is how an archetype transforms into a person.

Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer.”
– Morihei Ueshiba, father of Aikido


I hope they cannot see
the limitless potential living inside of me
to murder everything. 
I hope they cannot see,
I am the great destroyer.
– Julius Robert Oppenheimer, father of the A-bomb



Splattering and Smearing (I paint too, sometimes)


Too many choices block forward movement.

I drew a portrait of once, on canvas, in pencil. Every time I look at it, I lose faith and walk away. I don’t have the skills or familiarity with my tools to do it justice. I can’t bring it to life.

That’s how I’ve been feeling about my writing, lately.


When to stand up, when to let go

Smearing and splattering bright colors was a welcome break. I didn’t have to describe what I saw — it was right there already. That’s how Blood on the Water came to be. I knew how I felt, I knew which colors I wanted to use. I knew there would be droplets and splatters. The way the brush glided over the canvas calmed me down. With no concrete goal, there was no pressure to succeed or fail. I had room to learn. The Abstract shapes didn’t insist on one form or another while I figured out brushstrokes, composition, color — and silly stuff like viscosity.

I feel guilty that I’m not writing as fruitfully these days. The last few weeks were great but the well dried up. Blood in the Water stemmed from my guilt and self-threatening — just like staring at a disembodied shark fin. This could be you. Keep going or you’ll die discarded, drowning and alone. None of those emotions were helping me. I had to get them out.

I wondered if others were also feeling stuck, but didn’t want to go nosing into their problems unasked. I posted the following request on social media:

“Tell me one isolated thought that bothered you recently, AND  two colors you enjoy seeing together.”

Here are some of the responses, and preliminary sketches I did today.


Selfish or self-interested?

  • “Is this a hair stuck in my throat or am I going mad?” Gold  & dark blue
  • How to stand up for myself and when to let things go. Blue  & silver
  • “Am I selfish or self-interested?” Alizarin crimson & phthalo blue.
  • The idea that there are far too many creative paths and sometimes a glut of choice inhibits forward movement.  purple & aqua.
  • Why is my shooting not improving yet?! forest green & dark plum.
  • I got annoyed when I should have had more empathy, blue  & orange
  • Congestion.  Black & red.

Here’s hoping I can do these ideas justice.


Is that a hair in my throat, or am I insane?

Painting-mind and painting-hand get stiff and rusty like all unused machinery. Blowing these guys up and adding full color will be challenging. As much as we dedicate ourselves to work, to family, to music or anything — we must step away from time to time. Nothing loosens psychological knots like fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

I’ve often lost myself,
in order to find the burn that keeps everything awake.
― Frederico García Lorca

I am inclined to think that in one sense we must feel more than others ― yes, doubly more ― since the very attempt to restrain natural promptings entails suffering.”
― Inazo Nitobe