After a series of life-changing events and wake-up calls, Savarese decided to return to his passion of writing and storytelling. He is currently working on the sequel to The Opening. Ron Savarese can be found at www.findtheopening.com
The Digital Ink Spot: What kind of research did you do for your story The Opening?
Ron Savarese: Well, on one hand you could say I've been doing research about life after death or "life after life" (which is the way I like to think about it and is one of the major threads of the book) since as far back as I can remember.
My mom passed away just after I turned four years old. I think I've been looking for her ever since. So I've been on a quest to discover what happens when we die for a long time.
I've been exploring higher states of consciousness through meditation for over 30 years and I studied with dozens of thought leaders on the topic. A few examples are: Deepak Chopra (he explored the topic in his book, Life After Death - The Burden of Proof) and his staff at The Chopra Center. Chris Griscom’s (The Light Institute - Past Life Regression.) Chris came into the public spotlight after Shirley MacLaine wrote about her work in her book Dancing in the Light.
One of my most profound experiences took place in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico working with Dr. Beverly Nelson, Joseph Dispenza, and Eduardo Morales, R.P.P., from LifePath Retreats. Eduardo guided a small group of us through an underwater re-birthing process – that’s a story in and of itself. Suffice it to say, that experience opened up some doors and windows on an experiential level that I incorporated into the book.
Finally, I spent a good bit of time with a close friend, an MD/Anesthesiologist, digging into what would happen from a medical perspective to someone who was trapped in the snow and freezing to death. Even though the story is a type of spiritual fantasy I wanted it to be as realistic as possible.
So I would say my research for the book was both experiential and scientific.
The Digital Ink Spot: Does this story mimic your own spiritual journey?
Ron Savarese: In many ways, yes. It's the typical hero's journey as described by Carl Yung or Joseph Campbell – a journey many of us experience at some point in our lives. You can break this journey down into three simple stages: Departure, Initiation, and Return. Of course, these stages have their sub-stages, which go deep into the human psyche and consciousness, but we’ll stay somewhat surface level here.
In the first stage (Departure) we are separated from our known world and the true Self (Capital S). This departure is sometimes considered a person's low point, and it is often caused by a fall, a failure, or some form of suffering. I like to
think of it as the point when we become keenly aware of our own inner and outer worlds and selves, and transition either consciously or unconsciously between the two.
That’s exactly what happens to the protagonist, Joe St. John.
In the second stage (Initiation) we confront trials or a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that we must undergo to begin our transformation, and it’s not uncommon to fail one or more of these tests.
But the good news is that if we persist through these tests ultimately we experience a metaphorical type of death of the false self and we are reborn into our true Selves and we can commune with the world of spirit, and move beyond the world of opposites and duality and get glimpses of divine knowledge, love, compassion and bliss. This is a god-like state. Here we experience a type of heaven on earth, a transcendent like state where we drink the elixir of life itself and realize we are truly immortal beings at the soul level.
In this story the protagonist is given an opportunity to see his life from this elevated perspective.
In the third stage (Return) we realize we have traversed the realms of angels and god (or gods), and we have tasted the nectar of everlasting life. We have achieved a balance between the material and spiritual and most importantly we have become comfortable and competent with both our inner and outer worlds.
The big question now is can we return to our former life with all its trials and tribulations?
The answer is yes because we have achieved a type of mastery that leads to freedom from the fear of death because we realize there is no death, which in turn gives us the freedom to truly live. This is sometimes referred to as present moment awareness or living in the moment. At this point we are neither anticipating the future nor caught up with the past.
This is what Richard Rohr so eloquently describes as “living in the second half of life” in his book Falling Upward.
So ultimately, in my story, if the reader reads deeply enough, they will see that the protagonist (and indeed many of us) are confronted with this choice: Do we save our own lives (our false/ego selves) or do we give them up for something we may not yet quite understand (our true Selves) and fulfill our destiny and purpose? I believe this is our calling. It takes great trust to master the third stage.
In my story, Joe St. John is confronted with this choice. And in my own life I have been confronted with this choice and I’m trying my best to consciously work through it and grow with it on a daily basis.
The Digital Ink Spot: What do you want readers to get from The Opening?
Ron Savarese: Don’t be afraid of falling, failing, or suffering. These things can be “openings” to higher states of consciousness. And these “openings” to heaven on earth can be found in several ways: learning how to meditate, spending time in nature, immersing yourself in activity where you lose track of time, prayer, etc.
As his soul hovers between life and death, a man with an intriguing past is confronted with a momentous decision. Joe St. John is reeling from a string of bad investments and his wife’s battle with cancer. All he wants is a little peace. But the only place he’s been able to find it lately is at the bottom of a bourbon bottle. Joe’s wife persuades him to take their family back to his hometown to celebrate Christmas. After a night of hard drinking at a local pub with some old high school buddies, Joe stumbles out into a howling blizzard too inebriated to realize he shouldn’t attempt the walk to his cousin’s home. A child’s voice coming from inside the storm, and a fateful misstep, change everything in the world Joe thought he knew. Now he will discover the truth about life and death, and be confronted with the ultimate choice: save his own life, or give it up for someone he loves.
These things can lead us to a deeper, more fulfilling way of life with less stress and strife, and more peace and joy. Many of us live in a type of dream-like state dominated by our own egos. But the good news is that we can awaken, that is, we can wake-up and experience a type of heaven on earth and from this place give our unique gifts talents to the world.
The Digital Ink Spot: It sounds like you have a busy life. How do you find the time to write?
Ron Savarese: Yes, I have a busy life. But many of us, especially in western society have busy lives. I complain a lot about not having time to write. But in reality I believe the tension is good for me. I believe it helps my writing.
You may have heard that some writers are told, “Don’t give up your day job.” To me this means don’t give up the tension of living in the world, of being busy with life, because that’s what provides “grist for the mill” and provides fodder for great storytelling.
I’d like to be able to say I have cabin the woods where I go to write, or I try to write 1000 words day, or that I have some kind of special formula, but the truth is that I work at small desk in my home in the city of Atlanta. And I seem to work best under a deadline and when I know I have to turn out so many words a day or a week to finish a project, I get into writing mode and I’m able to crank it out.
The Digital Ink Spot: What can readers expect from you in 2012 and beyond?
Ron Savarese: I’ll spend some time speaking to groups and talking to book clubs about the topics in the book. I’ve been approached by a large men’s organization to create a workbook. And I’m currently working on a sequel to The Opening. With a little luck, it will be published sometime in 2013.
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