The Cosmic Flower of Faith

 

08182017redpsinversenarrowborder

 

Is there a transcendent reality to our existence? Is belief in such a reality an illusion?

We live in an age where people find it difficult to discuss the supernatural at all. One of the reasons for this is that our words are changing. Definitions are being shorn of their supernatural meanings.

Take, for example, the word “cosmic“. The Merriam-Webster dictionary (online) gives us the following:

Definition of cosmic
1 a :  of or relating to the cosmos, the extraterrestrial vastness, or the universe in contrast to the earth alone  – cosmic radiation
b :  of, relating to, or concerned with abstract spiritual or metaphysical ideas – cosmic wisdom
2 :  characterized by greatness especially in extent, intensity, or comprehensiveness – a cosmic thinker – a book of cosmic significance

However, the Bing (search engine) gives us this:

cos·mic
[ˈkäzmik]
ADJECTIVE
of or relating to the universe or cosmos, especially as distinct from the earth:
“cosmic matter”

synonyms: extraterrestrial · in space · from space

inconceivably vast:
“the song is a masterpiece of cosmic proportions”

Notice the supernatural meaning is stripped from the definition. And it’s happening in other words, too. Some people think “soul” is now a person’s personality or character. The word “mind” is preferred over “psyche” as people accept that there is nothing more inside us than a mechanical brain that responds to external stimuli due to evolutionary conditioning.

For many people there is no God, no heaven or hell, no angels, no spirits at all – just the mud of the earth we are made of. When we die we decay into lifeless molecules and are absorbed back into that same Earth. It’s no wonder that the atomizing of society follows this philosophy of the atomizing of the individual. What point is there to family, religion, community if it all ends in dust? Why should we adhere to bonds between souls when the soul is a figment of the human imagination?

There is no proof we can offer that we will exist beyond death or that there is more to us than our physical bodies. However, there are arguments that point to something beyond this material universe. And this is what we call “faith.”  But, it is difficult to hold onto that faith. We may study the best arguments of humanity’s finest philosophers, but the dominate culture of this age rejects these arguments summarily.  And yet, isn’t the possibility of life after death appealing? Should it be rejected simply because it can’t be put to scientific analysis?

Faith is fragile – even for those who feel certain that God exists. First, it is hard to maintain faith in a vacuum.  Secondly, it may be that whether one believes or not in the supernatural depends on one’s personality and circumstances.

But my point is that whether one is a believer or not, the transcendent is worth spending some time studying and discussing. All references to  this (potential) aspect of our existence should not be wiped out of our vocabulary.  The difficult truth is that we will not know the truth of our existence until the moment of death. Like Schrödinger’s Cat, we will not know whether the fragile flower of faith is based on reality or not until that moment. It will be the most critical moment of our existence.

So, isn’t it worth spending a little time, while we’re alive, contemplating what our flower looks like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21516flower.jpg

The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

 

All The Lonely People, Where Do They All Belong?

We all have a desire to belong somewhere. But, where we think we belong has changed.Eleanorfinal1nobordera

Ah look at all the lonely people
Ah look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
In the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong…

“Eleanor Rigby” – The Beatles

In ages past, people tended to identify themselves by family, tribe, religion or class status. “I am Tom’s mother.” “I am a Catholic.” “I am a New Yorker.” These used to help form a picture of a person’s identity.

Populations are now on the move. The idea of the nation or place of residence as an identity is not as strong as it once was. There is a growing social stigma against all religions. Families break up, reform, break up again. Indeed, many people are choosing to be childless, so they are not going to find themselves in their progeny.

In the past, shows like “Friends” and “How I met Your Mother” were shows where friends met on a daily basis well past their school years. The popularity of these shows was based on our desire to belong to a group that wants our company. These were unrealistic scenarios as most people have hectic schedules. Also, the fact that people move around a great deal make it difficult to continue school friendships beyond graduation. And while we have social media, such as Facebook, these are a poor substitute for the physical human contact friendship provides.

Populations are aging, people are alone more hours of the day. I recently read an article that most adolescents spend more time alone on their phones and only leave the house with their parents. This is called the “atomizing of society” and it is a trend that I believe will continue to grow and be a cause of concern for the mental health of individuals for many decades to come.

These trends and the desire to belong is why many popular TV shows and books today focus on character over plot. Not knowing where to turn, we look for our identity in our stories. That is, we are looking for story characters to be the place where we fit in. We “belong” in someone else’s story. Whether that is wise or not, it is happening in our culture.

So, who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? Where do we all belong?

 

 

21516flower.jpg

The Writing Life is a category on this website where I muse about life in general and writing in particular. You can find this group of posts here.

 

 

 

 

 

The Writing Life: Keep the Day Job

Thedayjobblueborder

We would all like to ditch the day job, but some of us must face that bothersome reality: the human need to eat.

I have recently reentered the job market after raising my children. To say that it’s changed a great deal over the past 30 years is an understatement. I have a lot to say about that, but in this post I want to talk about the day job and the creative process.

First of all, why do we write? For me, it’s for two reasons. The first is to make sense of life. By trying to put words to paper, I must make sense of the world around me. That’s not a small task, but it helps me to understand my own life.

Secondly, I want to connect with other people. Those who create art are trying to communicate something. Why do humans do that? Why do we feel the need to connect with complete strangers? Is it just an instinct that developed from the evolutionary process or is something more than that? Is there a spiritual component for our itch to create? This is the theme of most of my writing.

In any event, working the day job has advantages beyond the practical one of money. Writing (or artwork) is generally a lonely process. Going to a day job puts you in contact with other people. It keeps you connected to their problems and their dreams. You can add so much to your creations by paying attention to these things.

Another thing is that the break from writing can actually give you time to think about the problems you are working out in your stories. The brain continues to work on problems even while you are engaged in manual work. When you get back to your writing you have to reorient yourself to where you are in your story and hopefully some time away from it will make it clearer what is missing.

Now, sadly, it is very hard to keep a day job and persist at art at the same time. It takes discipline to carve out some time to get back to it. Also, it means putting other things on hold – like sleep and housework. It takes effort to prioritize your art above these other needs. People can see the dirty dishes, but they can’t see the progress you’ve made on paper – so we find it hard to justify the time spent on invisible things.

This is why so few stick to their art. We do the thing we “need” to do, rather than the things we “should” do. It’s hard to prioritize your spiritual dreams above your physical needs. Finding that balance between living and creating is not an easy path.

So, why not just give up? We say to ourselves “no one will ever see this, only I will ever know it exists.” But, that brings us back to why we do it in the first place. Deep inside us there is a need to make sense of life and to communicate the results of that search to others. We create and we are changed in the process. And as we change, hopefully becomes something good we can offer to others.

We hardly know how we affect the lives of others for good or bad, so we should strive to keep getting better at everything we do. Even if no one ever sees our creative work they see what we’ve become in the process.

It’s possible that our best work, in the end, is ourselves.

So, keep the Day Job, but don’t give up on the Dream. 😉

 

 

Someday I’ll be Someone…

 

We live in an age where people have difficulty finding meaning in their lives. I believe this is partly because people no longer identify themselves by their family, nationality or religion. Without knowing where we belong we have difficulty understanding our own worth.

Today we think of our worth as defined by our education, our work or our wealth. And even these markers come with many conflicting ideas about what they mean.

Higher education is not for everyone and even when we achieve it, we don’t always work in the field that we studied because we may not find work in those fields or family obligations (especially for women) make it difficult. So, we may not think we have much to offer despite years of effort.

Though we are constantly fed images and stories in the news, advertisements and social media about very wealthy people having a good time, we get the conflicting message that having money itself is evil or that wanting it is evil.

The truth is that very few of us will have the kind of money as the people we see in the celebrity news stories. The purpose of these stories is to feed our curiosity about what it would be like to be among the super-rich. When we click on these stories we are helping to pay for the salaries of the people whose work is to write the daily drama of those few rich celebrities who enjoy being in the spotlight. And that’s fine – a job is a job – but, do these stories make you feel less satisfied with your own life? Why? Your life is every bit as valuable – and as interesting – as someone who has more money than you make.

And then we are told by society that if we can’t be rich and famous, there is another way to happiness. And that way is through finding “work that makes a difference.”

There is nothing wrong with doing work that provides a service to others, but does it make it more “meaningful” than other work? Can’t all work have meaning? Sadly, many people pass up opportunities for good jobs because they think the job is not going to give them anything beyond a paycheck.

Given the reality that most of us must work to support ourselves and others, why not find some satisfaction in doing it well? There are people to interact with in every kind of job, no matter how lowly it seems. Don’t their lives matter, too? Be helpful. Be kind. Do right by everyone you meet. There is meaning in all your actions, even when you get no compensation for them.

The things you do every day add up over time. Days turn into months and months into years. It takes time to accomplish anything worthwhile. This is what life is – a struggle to get up each day and start over again and again while the world tells us that nothing we do matters. (And here is a secret – even the rich and famous must struggle with that same thought, too.)

Don’t worry about why you’re not super-rich. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. If it does, it will bring trials of its own. Money is not an indicator of happiness, satisfaction or meaning in life.

Don’t compare your life with others. It leads to dissatisfaction in your own life – causing you to miss the wonder of your own life. Try to find the good in what you do.

Don’t wait to find “meaningful” work to feel validated. What you do is important to those you interact with. Meaning is found all around you. It is in you and the people you encounter every day.

You are someone TODAY, not SOMEDAY.

 

 

Love and Beauty Among the Ruins (The Late Start: Advantage #2)

Aging

So you’re still worried about that late start as a writer.  I mean, what’s the point, right? Aren’t we running out of time? Time to write something big or something important?

I suppose it all has to do with what is important to you. Is fame important? Is it necessary to have a huge following or to gain acclaim before you die? It would be nice, I’m sure, but not everyone is going to achieve this – even those with remarkable talent.

For me, the thought that keeps me going is that I still have a lot to say to my family and friends and I find it’s easier to express these things through my writing than sitting down with them for long talks. I have things I want to say to my children, the lessons I’ve learned, but some of these things they are not ready to hear. First of all, they are young and they may understand the things about aging that I’ve told them about now, but they are far from experiencing them. I would like to leave them something for a time when I may not be there to reassure them.

Continue reading “Love and Beauty Among the Ruins (The Late Start: Advantage #2)”