Hi Numinous Friends:
We've had some great news over the last few hours and we'll be sharing that with you soon. I don't want to jinx it (I'm a bit superstitious, and it hasn't totally happened yet), but we'll fill you in soon.
In the meantime, thanks to our latest contributors. Your pledges mean so much, and always give me a heart-flutter when I see the total go up.
For now, I'd like to introduce you to another of my ineffable collaborators on THE NUMINOUS PLACE...
BRIANA RYAN: PHOTOGRAPHER
THE NUMINOUS PLACE uses every type of media to tell the story. Using multimedia imbues the storyworld with incredible atmosphere and authenticity. The main character, Henry Meat (you can follow him on the Twitter machine @HenryMeat ) recounts his story and presents evidence in the form of news reports, documents, phonecalls, and photographs. Like many of us, Henry is addicted to his smartphone, and he loves taking photos and video. This is where Briana comes in. You know how some people are just naturals? When it comes to capturing an image, Briana is one of those. When she shoots it, she never misses.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and what your role is on THE NUMINOUS PLACE.
For the past 10 years, I have worked as a Production Manager for feature animated films and while there are many aspects of my job that I love, it has never been a passion of mine. Cooking delicious, healthy food for family and friends as well as helping people heal through nutrition is really what fills me with joy. So in January of next year, I am happy to say that I will be attending The Natural Epicurean in Portland to get certified as a Natural Chef while simultaneously beginning my studies for certification as a Holistic Nutritionist through the Nutrition Therapy Institute.
Photography is another love of mine although it’s always been something I’ve just done on the side. I’ve been following Mark and his family around with my camera for years now so it seems fitting that my first professional gig as a photographer should be for The Numinious Place. I truly appreciate Mark’s faith in me to take on this project.
2. What are you doing in that photo? (see bottom of page)
I’m at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market snuggling a newborn baby goat from Soledad Farms. I love that many of the goats there are rescues and that the farm has a “no kill” policy. The goats are pasture fed and allowed to live out their lives naturally. Soledad also happens to make the most delicious goat cheese!
3. What attracted you to THE NUMINOUS PLACE?
Mark pitched me TNP and I was totally intrigued by how completely unique and innovate his project was. I was also blown away by Mark’s ability to think and write so multi-dimensionally. Writing a book is challenging enough but writing it while having to take so many other aspects into consideration is beyond impressive.
Mark has also written some really wonderful characters. Henry Meat who narrates the story is one of my favorites. You can’t help but fall in love with him despite his many flaws. He is a bit of a fumbling drunk who also happens to be quite bright and very funny.
I also love that Mark weaves real, historical figures and stories throughout the story so you aren’t always sure if the part you’re reading is fact or fiction. It’s quite clever.
4. TNP is about a spiritual quest, tell us about yours
I don’t know that I have a spiritual quest as such but I like to think I live a fairly spiritual life. I firmly believe that things happen for reason even if it’s not for us to immediately understand. This belief enables me to process and make sense of difficult events that take place whether on a personal or global scale. I think it’s a waste of time and energy to feel bitter or stay angry about the things that may happen to us. Instead, I think it’s important to relinquish control and allow those events help us become more understanding, compassionate, empathetic beings.
5. What's the most amazing thing that ever happened to you?
When I was 17, one of my brothers passed away and I was having an extremely difficult time making sense of what had happened and why. A few weeks after he died, I had a dream that I walked through the back porch of my childhood home and into the kitchen where a crowd of people were standing around crying. I looked up and saw my brother across the room and he had balls of light hovering on either side of his shoulders. It felt like two angels were protecting and guiding him. I remember starting to cry and asked him what happened. He said, “I can’t tell you why but please know that I’m ok”. After that, he and the lights started floating up towards the corner of the room and disappeared. I woke up immediately and had a feeling of peace flow through my body that I had never experienced before or since. I don’t know if it was actually him or just my mind trying to heal itself but either way, all I know is that it helped me heal and make peace with his passing.
6. TNP is about lucid, or numinous dreaming, tell us about your dream life.
I haven’t paid close attention to my dream life since I was a kid. During middle school I went through a period of being obsessed by dreams and their meaning. I would take books out of the library so I could analyze them but never studied or practiced lucid dreaming although I know I’ve experienced them on a few occasions.
The only consistent thing I can remember dreaming about throughout my life is tidal waves. The dreams themselves are never the same but there is always the threat of being overwhelmed by a giant wave.
Since starting on this project, my interest has been piqued again so I have begun reading, “The Tibetan Yoga of Sleep and Dreams”.
7. You're one of the few people who've read the manuscript, please tell us about a favorite part
Perhaps because my background is in animation, I feel particularly drawn to the graphic novel that is written by the character, Sera Tsogyal (aka Marvel). I love that we get to go deep into Sera’s dream world and experience her alternate reality as a superhero Monk who transforms into a tiger while battling a Giant Deity. This, for me is the heart of the story.
8. Is there a character in TNP you particularly relate to?
Sera Tsogyal is my favorite of all the characters. She has a quiet strength and I think because of her inability to talk, she has become a great observer of life and human behavior. Despite all the difficulties she has faced in life, she is still a fighter and a survivor. I love that.
9. What are some of your favorite books, music and people who inspire you?
Derrick Jensen’s book, “A Language without Words” had a profound impact on me. His ability to write with such incredible self-awareness and deep empathy makes it impossible not to be moved. He also has a way of contextualizing history, events, and culture in a way that has given me a whole new way of thinking about and looking at the world.
There is almost nothing I enjoy more than pouring myself a glass of wine and listening to Billie Holiday while cooking a Sunday Supper for friends and family. She is incredibly soulful and if I were only allowed to listen to one artist for the rest of my life, it would have to be her.
Jimmy Carter has been a huge inspiration to me since I was a little kid. He is the only US President who never fired a gun on his watch, he put solar panels on the White House (only for Ronald Reagen to take them down), began Habitat for Humanity, and continues to fight tirelessly for human rights and peace in the middle east. He is a compassionate, empathetic soul but is also no bullshit. I kind of love him.
10. What's your greatest achievement so far in life?
The close friendships I have cultivated over the years. I am very fortunate to have so many amazingly smart, kind, generous, and talented people in my life.
11. And finally, what's the quote that really inspires you and your life?
"Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life." - E.O. Wilson