Love Me, Damn it…

Last weekend our community hosted a two day music festival.  Over one thousand people came and enjoyed the music and festivities.  This was a beautiful event.  Folks of many stripes sat beside each other and shared a moment in time where only for a brief few minutes all present were one.  From Mennonites to old hippies to business leaders, a delightful hodgepodge of humanity covered the lawn for this colorful shared experience.

A brief walk around the grounds gave pause to the terrific energy emanating from the collected masses.  Harmony was the music being played and shared by all present.  Traffic slowed as it passed allowing travelers the opportunity take in the spectacle and enjoy the break as life took these passers bye elsewhere.

But a small and overly vocal ensemble arrived mid-way through the festival.  These determined souls were a group of the righteous wing of God’s army of anger and justice.  They had a message to share about God’s love for all to hear.  “There are no parties in Hell, Just Bar-B-Ques” said the signs being carried which informed the unsuspecting observers.

My first thought was…I like Bar-B-Ques; especially ones where there are many people enjoying themselves, that in itself would be a party to me.  But a deeper thought began bouncing around in my ever active thought process.   According to these people, these purveyors of love and old fashioned justice, I either have to love God or go to hell, these are my only choices?  I’m not so sure about hell but to the evangelist’s minds, Hell was certainly something to be avoided.  Me, I’m not so sure.  I think being in the company of these people for any period of time would be Hell; I’d want to avoid that Hell for sure.

I just don’t buy the logic.  In actuality, I’m a seller.

How is this different than the woman who is told that if she ever stops loving her husband/boyfriend or leaves him, he will kill her?  Love me or else.  Love is never meant to be the lesser of two evils; love is to be the supreme choice.  We love because we are drawn towards the warmth, embrace because of the dynamic connection involved which makes us better, desire because of the freedom love allows us to encounter.  Love is it’s own motivator and needs no help.  Love is complete.  God is love.

Fear is not love.  God, who is the ultimate authority and example of love, allows us to fall in love with Him/Her by our own choice and will.  Demands of perfection, repercussions from poor performance are not a constant reminder to draw us closer to the Supreme.  I find too many inconsistencies with the logic of fear to make people act obedient and faithful.  It just doesn’t represent the kind of God I want to willingly follow.  It doesn’t represent God at all.

Love God or go to Hell.  Good luck with that.  In the future, how about coming over to the other side of the fence and celebrating life with the rest of us?  We have plenty of room and you would be welcome and appreciated.  I feel God really is into parties and I’m pretty certain which side of the fence He/She would be found.

Onward!

Come on Get Happy…

Can we affect our happiness?  Is our happiness a predetermined gift or a curse?  What if I don’t want to be happy?  What if I want more happiness in my life?  Do I have any control in this?  What are my options?

This seems a relevant and genuine topic to consider.  How many people do we encounter every day that are just plain miserable, people who come across as angry, frustrated, or even pissy.  Ok, pissy may not be a real word, but it’s extremely descriptive so just go with it for a minute.  They’re not hard to notice as they bring forth so much negativity and wrath in their wake.  Most kind folks will do just about anything to avoid their company.  Dark clouds actually hover over them spreading bad karma to those who enjoin their presence.

Others seem to prosper on positive emotions that pour out upon others and enhance the soundings of all they encounter.  Very little can be done to change their being, they emote happiness and it certainly is contagious.  Is this a result of an outlook or a physical make-up?  The well of encouragement never seems to run dry for these charming benefactors.  The draw to them resembles moths at night dancing to the glows of a light bulb.  They are irresistible.

The third group we encounter seems to be comprised of miserable individuals who put on a front of happiness.  After only a brief encounter the deception is revealed to be less than genuine and one notices the horror behind the mask.  They want to be happy, they think being happy is a better way to live, yet happiness seems to elude them and leave them emotionally barren.  Seeing what they want in others reeking of joy makes them envious for what they know they can’t have, so they pretend.

It’s seems obvious that forcing a good feeling doesn’t create anything good but almost seems to have the opposite effect.  Trying to shove a self-created existence into a non-permeable layer might just be futile.  This actually is a lazy effort some folks use to bring about change in their unhappy lives.  Taking what one thinks is right and pretending it’s belongs to you never is a good fit. This seems to be the root cause of much of the crazy that flows in our society.  Insanity grows as the goal of happiness is not achieved through artificial playacting and the deepening sadness only fosters.

Change must be an inside job as that is the only place where true happiness actually resides.  The old adage of “fake it till you feel it” only delays the inevitable of misery becoming the reality of ones existence.  Alcoholics can stop drinking but until they change the root behavior of what led them to drink, they are nothing but sober assholes that are twice the challenge they were before they quit drinking.  Each of us must look honestly at ourselves without the gentle reassuring thoughts of “we’re ok.”  We’re not ok and we need drastic change, otherwise we wouldn’t even be having these random thoughts of improving our happiness.

I feel the most pain for those caught in the fundamentalist church trap.  Please, before I’m judged as a heretic, hear me out.  People who faithfully go to church and are told, just pray and God will give you the desires of your heart.  Never are they told to take responsibility for their actions, never are they told that pain and painful experiences are healthy and can lead to greater depth and growth of the individual.  Just pray and God will set you free.  I respectfully disagree.  God gives us the means to do the work but the actual effort, well, the work belongs only to us.  Like the cowboy preacher character in the movie Unforgiven, who wisely said, “Faith without sweat isn’t worth spit.”  With that insightful thought in mind, is it any wonder there are so many unhappy people in church these days?  Knowing they should be happy, expecting God to just miraculously make them happy, and yet still choosing to do nothing to make happiness happen.

Ok Sunshine, enough on the negative aspects of happiness, what about the positive already? 

Growth in understanding creates awareness.  Greater awareness leads to greater contentment.  Greater contentment leads to happiness.  Greater happiness leads to finding ones true place in life.  Not needing others to make emotions more positive, not needing things or accomplishments to bring greater positive feelings, this is contentment.  Awareness that our actions are done because they’re the right thing to do versus performing activities to get or avoid something brings wholeness to a soul.  Contentment means taking the emotions as they are and not needing to enhance or numb these to make them more palatable, as everything in life is not a day at Disney World.  Reality is a bitch, but, reality is ours to embrace.  Acquiring a vantage point with a clear view of the present and not feeling the need to make any changes or adjustments and just hugging it as your own is the epicenter of happiness.

Can we get more happiness in our lives?  Yes.  Is it real work and effort?  Yes.  Is it a lifelong struggle to attain?  Yes.  Are there any shortcuts?  No.

If one seeks greater happiness in their life.  Consider working on gaining a better perspective on reality.  It’s only by taking today by the hand and walking into the sunset can one get a healthy perspective on life.  Take the path of greater resistance instead of the well worn trail of simplicity to find the land of awareness.  There is the place we all seek to find.  It doesn’t take a map needing interpretation, it just takes a heart that wants more and will stop at nothing to attain it.

Enjoy the ride.

Fraud, Freak, Fool…

Just some of the many names I’ve provided myself not to mention many of the ones voiced by those I’ve disappointed in someway somehow.  My many imperfections are legion and growing rapidly each day.  As much as I desire to become honorable and I do totally desire this, I only seem to fall further away from such a goal.  If anyone were to share only few brief minutes inside my head witnessing the great struggle for control taking place maybe only then, could someone understand?  It’s certainly not for lack of effort.

My faith is central to my reason for living.  To grapple with the challenge of holiness only reveals my poor wrestling skills I’ve maintained since childhood. Fact is I’m a legendary quitter and have been so for a long time. I do try, I truly do desire to be faithful.  I want to be a consistent student of the faith, but something just keeps holding me back, I know that something is me.   God, if they only knew how much I desired to not think the way I do or to care about others or issues so passionately.  Life could be so much easier.

My family has to listen to me rant about injustice, problems of poverty, health care for all, inequality of the American way, greed, needed reforms in our economic system, freedom to love who you love, evils of war, blind loyalties to the political system, Neo-conservatism, and quality of life for all.  Please tell me why when I listen to discussions with well meaning souls all I can think about is the counter-point to the accepted train of thought.  My poor family, my kids, they’re afraid to talk about what they learned in school for fear it may lead down another one of daddy’s discourses of dismay.

Wouldn’t it be simpler to just agree with the masses?  To walk lockstep in military precision with other like minded soldiers saluting the general as we passed in formation to rid the masses of people like me.  See, there I go again.  I just can’t stop even if I wanted.

I really do desire to fit in with you people.  I genuinely do.  I would love to sit through a Sunday school class and not feel the need to challenge everyone for what the greater truth of the message may be saying versus the accepted and approved interpretation.  Damn, there I go again.  I would love to hear about small minded, overly opinionated prophets and walk away unaffected, but sadly, it just isn’t going to happen.

What about this filter thing so many are gifted with?  A filter to minimize the outflow of expression from the constant churning in the mind.  How does a guy get one of those?  Of course that may not be the answer either.  If my mind doesn’t spew it out and clear itself of these impurities then these thoughts just bounce around in crazy town getting nuttier by the moment.  I can assure you turbo-charged crazy is something none of us want to experience.

Funny, the only thing that keeps my bubble on the level is when I spent great lengths of time in meditation, and lots of it.  Maybe it’s time I get back to seeking my Zen and spend less time trying to fit in as a faithful follower.  God understands.

I hope.