December 31, 2015

A Meandering Ramble about Nothing...and Everything 2015

It is the end of December, and my life is, well, being lived. Change is a good thing. Truly living is, too.

When I asked my sweet man how long we have been together now, I was shocked when he replied nearly four years. Four years? Really? I guess I have been living life so hard that the time has flown by. It feels just like yesterday when I made the move that changed everything for everyone who was close to me. Sometimes change is so hard, but so necessary.

In retrospect, the words at the right sum up things quite nicely. Every year that passes results in me knowing and understanding myself more. My journey of study has brought about changes of thought that I could have never foreseen. Jimmy Carter isn't the only one 'losing his religion' - with each passing term, I move farther and farther away from the devout and faithful person I was when I resigned my formal religious obligation back in 2010. For myself, once I 'see' something, it is impossible to 'unsee.' This is definitely a truism for me, and have I seen some things. Once confronted with knowledge, we all have to decide what to do with it. My choice was to question everything I had ever been told. I just could not live any longer without finding the answers to questions I had been asking all along - those ignored but pesky inappropriate questions.

Faith is just that - faith. You either decide to believe what you are told or not. Whether it is true or not. Whether you have all the information or not. Whether it is rational or not. Your decision is dependent upon how you want to be accepted, perceived, or identified. It is dependent upon how you feel...dependent upon the attitudes and opinions of others. Faith is not truth nor a miracle. Faith is not proof, nor provable. Faith is a...

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What do people gain from all the toil
at which they toil under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun goes down,
and hurries to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south,
and goes around to the north;
round and round goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they continue to flow.
All things are wearisome;
more than one can express;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
or the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been,
in the ages before us.
The people of long ago are not remembered,
nor will there be any remembrance
of people yet to come
by those who come after them.
~Ecclesiastes

Everyone suffers, regardless of faith in...whatever you want to have faith in. That sounds so bleak, but yet, it is not. It is freeing; knowing that no one has it all right, and that everyone carries a human burden, fosters compassion and love for all. We are all in this together, and  no one is getting out unscathed. That realization alone kills self-righteousness.

The result of my toil, and the defining summary for this year, is that I have now investigated far enough to understand enough about mythology, why and how it functions within society and humanity, and frankly, I don't need to pick one to live by. I don't need to prove to anyone what deity I serve, nor convince them it is the right one in a myriad of choices. Further, I don't need anyone to tell me how to live 'right' or to determine my worth as a representative of any given deity - no one has the authority to do that. My beliefs are my beliefs for my own personal edification - I no longer need to gather with others 'of like mind' to bolster my 'faith'...in my experience and observation it always results in the same old dynamics of politics, competition, and coercion. With all due respect, I'll pass on the group-mind experience, (even though it can be quite comforting and mystical in the moment). I don't require acceptance and approval, at least regarding my beliefs, from anyone, much less a group of mostly strangers gathered to hear a worship band for an hour once a week.

Specifically, I don't believe that the human condition is innately bad or sinful, I don't believe in original sin (or for that matter the so-called creation story or characters in Genesis), nor do I much care for the stories in the Bible touted as direct from the mouth of a deity - especially those that dictate societal harm, such as perceived authority/hierarchy or sexual caste. These are all my own discoveries and not a judgement of the beliefs of others, even if they sound such. I guess that makes me agnostic - I don't know if there is an all-knowing Creator-God, and I don't believe anyone else does, either. I really like how George Lucas put it, "I believe something is out there, I just don't know what it is...but I know religions aren't based on it. (Religions are based on) human psychological needs that have been put together mostly to create society..." Like Mr. Lucas, I believe that there is a creative source or force (if you will) that exists beyond human cognizance and the human religious institutions are certainly not based upon that 'mind beyond the mind' - if they were they would look completely different (I don't have to explain the dissonance between religious dogma and justified practice, right?). Religious institutions (Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam) are not based upon love but purity laws and how to judge who is in or not. Interestingly, my original determinations that the purpose of religion is control of the masses and that the main product of religion is self-righteousness has come to complete fruition in my mind. Full stop.


Now, dear reader, if you are still with me, I would like to say that at the start of this new year I am full of hope. Not hope in that which is not seen and all that, but hope that there is so much potential that I have not even begun to imagine. I believe we limit ourselves and our choices with restrictions, laws, and expectations. And for what? With so many possibilities that lie before us, before me, freedom to think outside the perceived box of accepted norms gives me hope. I am now living my dream - a dream that seemed so much out of my reach before. I was encouraged to stay in that toxic place, in that toxic relationship, that place in which I was dying because to leave would be unrighteous. Well, that advice was so wrong for me. I am now privileged to be in the most loving, respectful, satisfying relationship - it is the stuff of my wildest dreams. I am in my junior year at a university that is amazingly fulfilling and challenging, studying my most obsessive hobby and passion - religion and gender. My beloved children are grown (or mostly) and three of the most personable, interesting, and bright people I know (and for that I take very little credit) - every mother dreams of having their children be healthy and happy as they venture out into their own life. I have the absolute pleasure of living with my most closest and dearest souls in my favorite place on the entire earth - the beach - where I can breathe fresh air, commune with the wildlife, and feel the pulse of the very earth in and around me. Now, this is living.

At just shy of  51 years, the eagerness of my fellow, much-younger classmates to follow a dream has been contagious - I am following my dream. In spring I will be carrying the largest class credit load to date, as well as tutoring responsibilities. Studying at university is mostly about pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do - a reality that may be obscured  in youth. It is not lost on me, and I have been stretched in ways that are far beyond what I thought was possible. I am still up for the challenge, although I must admit, I do whine a bit in the process.

One week at a time. One day at a time. One moment at a time.
It is only in the moment where we truly live. No where else.

Yesterday I was saddened to hear of a tragedy within the letterboxing community. A fellow 'boxer was brutally murdered by her companion and left in a park while he ended his life at their home. Moments like these always cause us to hug our loved ones close, and pushes me to look closer at those I interact with, looking for ways to help if needed. Who knew her trauma? Could someone have known? Did she reach out for help? So many questions. Now her children are without their beloved mother and so much more. It puts in bold type the fact that we only have the present moment to make the choices that will propel us to our next potential. Do we have a dream? Do we have hope? Do we express gratitude? Are we looking for the good in others? Are we waiting for a deity to determine our fate or are we taking responsibility for our own decisions? Are we giving...or only surviving?

I believe we are all interconnected, a giant tapestry where all the strands touch and impact each other. It is in this vast fabric that we ebb and flow, living and loving, giving and taking, creating and consuming all that is. For me, I find satisfaction in the details, and feel those around me on the highest volume setting. That has been my year; discovering my limits, realizing my sensitivities (my true super-power!), and releasing the burden of clutter, negativity, and expectations - of others and of myself.

Nothing is permanent.
Change is a constant.
Compassion is everything.

The letter-writer Paul says that "if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."

I have everything.





2 comments:

Theresa Maher said...

I overheard two ladies reading your post out loud at the next table in a restaurant and, although I could only make out some of it I was intrigued enough to find it on the internet to give it a read. This is the most closely related to my own life piece I've ever read. Thanks for putting my musing thoughts into words so beautifully.

Hendel D'bu said...

Thank you, Theresa, for the lovely comment! It made my day. I never really think anyone reads my stuff, but when they do, I am thrilled - not for fame or notoriety, but in hopes that they will be touched in some way. Be well, my friend!