I am as earnest as they come, even in my irreverent moments. It is a character trait I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to dodge. Now, in my forties, it’s a friend, and because of it, I trust myself. I know I’m doing a good enough job, most of the time, to seek to understand, even when I disagree. Relating is messy. It’s hard.
As I learn to ease up, and trust my seat, I am growing more certain that not much really matters. The things we actually need, to feel safe and well-fed, are quite simple. Sadly, simple has become rare, and a bit elusive, and it is disproportionately withheld from the most vulnerable. Unadulterated food is harder to find, and when you are able to, it is hard to trust the source, and therefore it comes at a premium. Products that are chemical free, and therefore more gentle for our children, organs, and earth, are considered “fancy.” But no, really, they’re just ordinary. It’s a strange time, but slowly, incrementally, we are reclaiming simple, and I believe we must.
In that vein, it may be worth taking a moment to reflect on how our grand human behaviors serve us. Religion and/or spiritual discovery. Learning and academia. Feeding. Recreational drugs, alcohol. Avoidance. Cigarettes. Coffee. Internet. Pornography. Advocacy. Volunteering. Gambling. Writing, blogging, opining. Sugar. Artistry. Other work. Gum. Pets. Sanctimoniousness. I could go on, forever, and no–Gum and Methamphetamines are not remotely comparable, and I’m sort of joking about gum, but we have to look at what we are doing. We have to think about why we are doing it. We have to sit with that, at least for a moment, and then carry on, with increasingly broader insight, over time.
Or, we don’t.
But what if we don’t? What if we don’t ever stop to think? What if we are so panicked, and buried, that we do not, at any cost, stop to think? What if we allow our neurochemistry to pull as around, as if attached to many discordant, untrained sled dogs?
There is a slippery slope, inherent to our ambitions, and likely, you’re standing on one, or several. I know I am. So perhaps the question, then, is not “What if?” but rather, “What now?”
When we catch ourselves preaching more than pausing; grabbing more than choosing; dismissing more than considering; scripted more than authentic, responsive, and thoughtful; and fuming more than mulling, we might be in trouble.
And when we are in trouble, it takes but a moment to soften. One terrifying moment.
Drop the rope. Let that which has ahold of you fall on its ass. Fundamentalism, and extremism, are not the same as competence. One is not “better” for being at odds with his or her purpose in this way. Bearing rigidity, and internalized judgment, is not a calling. Pounding the pulpit of self-righteousness, with its shiny badges that proclaim, “I am more pure than you,” is not useful, unless you accept it as an indicator you have lost the heart. And what, now, is the point?
Righteousness is compassionate, even when it is swift and decisive.
Self-righteousness, by contrast, is a failure to engage.
One simple suggestion, to counteract the slippery slope of fundamentalism, is to listen for the lull. It’s easy to pull a thread compulsively, when the neurons fire pleasantly, vibrantly, and constantly. Then, there are the lulls. The doldrums. The endeavor will lose its sparkle, its meaning, and its hold on you. You’ll doubt your purpose, and/or the purpose of your craft, your addiction, or your joy.
During the lull, breathe. Thank your brain for saying, “Enough!” Drink some water. Reset. Water some plants. Unless plants is your…um, thing. Diversify. Rest.
Do I have ahold of This, and does it serve Me?
Or does It have ahold of Me, and if so…
What do I need, right now?
What am I losing if I drop It?
What do I gain if I keep It.
What do I want, freed from the pull of neurotransmission on hyperdrive?
What do I want?
And if It serves You, then soldier on. The sparkle will come back. You’ll learn to ride that wave.
And if It is making you Sick, then dig in, Love, for the sparkle will come back, and you’ll be in for the fight of your life. Remember, your people are right behind you, and they’re ready. Set down your shame; you are simply human, and for sure, you are loved.