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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Friday, July 29, 2011


Emotional maps are unique, even from within a shared experience. Have you ever reminisced over a family incident or vacation, and be astonished at the different highlight memories? The geographical location was identical, but the perspective diverse. Or discussed a memory that to you is almost as vivid as the day it occurred, but another family member shrugs with no recollection at all?

The opening scene in Phantom of the Opera sets up the common physical map ground of emotional experience, first present and then past. It is a bleak day. The access route to the opera house is cold, wet, and icy. The elderly need assistance. And once inside the interior proves even more hazardous. There is no shortage of concrete physical metaphors in the decayed building. One student in the discussion remarked, “I saw it also as the future being the death of the past.”

Upon arrival the elderly bidders nod to each other with respect. In that moment they acknowledge their common ground for being present to this auction. And then both choose to bid on the same item. Ignoring what to the outsider might be considered art works or antiques when presented, they focus on a battered, tarnished child’s common toy, a monkey that plays cymbals.

Both want it and keep raising the bid for the seemingly worthless item. And then they pause to look at each other. Sorrow etches their faces. And the woman acquiesces, as she recognizes in him a deeper need, an emotional map that needs closure.

Journal Prompt:

1. Take a humorous circumstance that your character has experienced, and retell it from the future looking back at least forty years. What stand s out in vivid recall?

2. Repeat, but now use an emotionally difficult decision.

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