I recall now that rugged, integral loss that comes with blanket happiness. I remember feeling it when I felt truly happy with Max…the scariest, swallowing feeling of being consumed by a lack of depth and color. I actually had the strangest feeling that I was terrified I was going to be happy for the rest of my life…and I wouldn’t be able to feel the incredible wallowings, the straight-punch-to-the-chest, the great longing, the sublime sense of sadness that pushes you forward and drives you to create. That un-wholeness that drives you to be whole. I felt empty within the stagnation of what I perceived to be flat happiness.
I think perhaps, we must always strive towards that sweet spot in the middle. That everlasting place of not too hot, not too cold…where all things can live and breathe together. The exact tilt and axis of the earth that allows for all of the creatures on earth to thrive. That place of complexity where we can allow all things within ourselves to exist and live. Where we can separate and acknowledge all aspects of ourselves at one time – there is pain here, joy here, madness here, sadness here, courage here, and paralyzing fear here. Recognize the beautiful, inherent contradictions which lie beneath all our skins. And recognize that at any given time, anyone is a mess of a thousand things at once. Allow for complexity. Allow for humanity.
And we should strive to find this sweet spot with everything. I’ve struggled with a way to properly articulate this for a long time…because the word that seemed to convey what I was saying was “balance” but it never quite fit because it actually connotes the very thing that I am speaking against. It is not flatline, straight in the middle, the scales are even, all is balanced, all is right with the world stagnation that I am looking for. I am looking for that sweet spot in the middle where people recognize and allow all things to exist in the most productive, beautiful and human way. Recognize our darkest impulses, acknowledge them, bring them out in to the light and try to find some productive way of using them. Not shaming them, acknowledging their use and power and terror and allowing them to inform our picture of the world. Recognize the complexity within the world and do not run from it in an attempt to over-simplify, box up, generalize. But wade into that complexity, drink it in, and allow it to allow more of yourself to exist in a more healthy and complete way.
That space where we recognize male as a thousand things – strong, vulnerable, powerful, emotional, giving, consuming all at the same time.
That space where we can approach religion from this truly open mind wherein we recognize the inherent value of certain concepts, reject others, and still find peace in our own individual ways of reconciling this. This is one of those things that I feel strangely alone in. Religion and science are placed at such odds with one another. There is such a clear, binary polarization that exists towards these ideas and I don’t understand why we can’t suck the marrow out of truth and take what we want for ourselves. There is such value in so many concepts – community, hope, ritual…and yet such beautiful aspects of humanity really get segregated these days because of an inability to separate and revalue a concept. I find it strange that this concept of worship, praise, faith and hope somehow belong to religion…and secular life strives to be actively without these ideas that seem to “pull us back into the uneducated hands of fanatics.” When, in fact, this feeling of faith and hope – I’m talking about faith itself – does not in any way whatsoever need to be linked to any religious narrative of any figure or storyline that may or may not have happened in the middle east hundreds of years ago. And yet so many religious zealots have ruined the idea for so many, taken the words and tainted them for so many. But these are not just little concepts…these are HUGE concepts that are at the very root of human existence. These concepts are quite literally what scientists use to mark the beginning of human consciousness. These concepts are more ancient that ancient. It does not seem fair or right that we should now separate ourselves from these major human experiences because of contradictions in the way it has been painted to us. This act of praising the world, giving thanks to whoever or whatever or whatever string of atoms has allowed for this breath to be taken, this overwhelming gratitude for the life you have been given…these things have such raw value to humanity and to quelling some of the storms raging within us….giving us meaning, purpose, a sense of place and recognition…and the fact that they have been entirely segregated and tainted with certain religious narratives is really upsetting. I understand people are reclaiming some of these ideas with yoga and meditative thinking…but here this is this prime example…SO many people go to yoga these days and recognize the basic beauty of the fundamental spiritual concepts they are being given – “the light in me bows to the light in you” and clearing your mind and body and centering yourself etc. etc. etc…and yet it doesn’t seem clear to me that a great deal of people understand that yoga basically IS Hinduism and is FULL of really quite intense Hindu narratives and sort of out-there ideas about chakras and really rather bizarre concepts (from an outsiders perspective). And YET…somehow Americans have really been able to suck the marrow out of it…to secularize it, squeeze the most beautiful and universal concepts out of it and make it completely relate-able and understandable to even the most skeptical of Americans. People have come to honor the most beautiful thoughts within it and sort of disregard all of the intense mumbo-jumbo that you really only get in to if you are DEEPLY committed to yoga. Most people experience this prime surface level which offers basic concepts like peace and breath and recognition of beauty and inner strength. And these basic concepts by themselves are so vital for life – especially modern life…which is why I think so many people seem to just be FLOCKING to yoga and meditation. Because it ALLOWS them this middle ground – this sweet spot where they are allowed to engage in gratitude and connection and inner work but it does not set off the red flags in their head saying “religion! religion! religion!” And I think this is probably because the “yoga” way of phrasing all of these concepts is new and foreign and refreshing to us and so we can allow it in…because it does not strike all of our religious triggers and it moves against our conditioning of what we have immediately come to recognize as religious…which has become synonymous with ridiculous.
But here’s what I am saying. I am saying that it seems a shame and it seems bamboozling to me that the only people that get to wallow in so many Christian concepts are Christians. SO many people are experiencing the best parts of what yoga has to offer, or at least the vocabulary and thinking…and are not Hindu or even slightly educated on what Hinduism really is. I wish we could suck out the marrow. Say I really love this, but I don’t believe that. This concept is really meaningful to me, but not in this certain Christian light – within my own context. Because faith itself – the sheer word separated from any other narrative…is such a beautiful thing. Is such a powerful thing. And so many words are tainted now. God means a bearded man in the sky and faith means a cross around your neck and praise means religious fanaticism. And I think this misconception is isolating a lot of people into unnatural places of binary thinking with NO release. No perspective and framing of their life in a really meaningful way because to even place your life in any sense of meaning connotes some sense of religious significance. What I am talking about is complexity. Saying this works, this doesn’t. Taking human history and religious significance…learning all the angles and edges with an open mind and saying this is meaningful to me, this is not, this enhances my life, this does not. And sitting inside the middle of it all and being a being of the 21st century. With more awareness and more knowledge that our ancestors. Respecting and acknowledging our ancestors and the thoughts they had at the time they had them with the knowledge they had. Taking the morsels of magic that they experienced and moving forward with them. Not slicing off huge chunks of human experience and letting the misconceived notions of a few religious fanatics turn all of humanity away from its most primal reaction to the earth. Religious experience is the first evidence we have of homo sapien evolution. Cave paintings and burial. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I think it is dangerous to. We need to adapt and evolve our concepts with the knowledge we have now of the world. Take the nuggets, the beautiful foundations and words and cast them in the light of science. See how they glitter under the guise of quantum mechanics. Find the way that it all fits. Approach the world with humility saying – I don’t understand how it all fits but thank you for this mystery. And now, with more knowledge, with more science…we have ever widening and widening mystery…and that…that is the good stuff. That is the best stuff. Something to drive you forward. All of the endless questions that pull us forward…that make us stand on our feet and walk towards the answers. Those endless answers that sit around us everywhere and nowhere.
What I am saying is I think it is a shame that the polarizing ideas of science and religion seem to be stonewalling each other than allowing for a greater synthesis of MORE mystery, MORE magic, MORE amazement, MORE awe and wonder and praise and hope. Faith in its most rudimentary sense. Praise in the purest sense of looking at the horizon and praising this life that is before you. Ritual in all its beautiful and magical significance. Any ritual…just allowing for the concept of ritual to provide meaning and significance to your life. And the further these concepts drift from modern life, the more estranged I think we will become to our basic nature. For truly, these have always been our most basic human experiences. For hundreds of thousands of years.
These words have meaning…faith, praise, ritual…and I don’t know of too many that even come close to conveying the same thing…which is why I’m stuck with them AND their misconceived connotations. And yet at the same time…these words don’t have to convey what we have been conditioned to believe they define. To see these words in their whole meaning – under all the beautiful meanings they have been given and all the meanings we can infuse them with…they are powerful, powerful concepts. They are doors into and unto themselves and they should not be allowed to be cast aside because of this blind push towards binary thinking. Because of this concept that science and religion don’t mesh. When in fact, if we were to allow them to coexist and to INFORM one another…I think we could really find a sweet spot in the middle that beautifies everything.
Beyond binary thinking.