Saturday, May 19, 2007

Revelling and Reckoning

Back when I was immersed in fundamentalist culture, people used to tell me that my purpose in life was to worship God. That is to say, all humans everywhere were created with that one purpose in mind, to worship and give glory to God. You can imagine the thoughts in the back of my head, the ones I dared not give voice to, the ones I told to shut up for so many years. They wanted to know how God came to be such a narcissist, why having an infinite host of angels wasn't sufficient to feed His preoccupation with being worshipped, why planet earth was ever even necessary if that's all it was good for. Why was free will ever invented if the only reason we're here is to point back at God?

I mean, imagine you have a blank white wall, and there's nothing on it at all, with the exception of a large painting of.... oh I don't know..... a brightly coloured beach ball. Anyone approaching the wall is going to instinctively be drawn to the picture of the ball. You don't need to then paint a whole bunch of arrows that point to the ball. That would be...... redundant.

I can't believe that this world and everything on it is redundant. Can you?

Somewhere in my consciousness I think I've been mulling this one over for quite some time. Not really dedicating myself to the solution of this question, but coming around to fit in a piece from time to time. The way my mother does a puzzle.

One day I felt a piece slip into place, while I was watching Joan of Arcadia. God had appeared to Joan in the form of a little girl, and said "All magnetic fields are the same. All carbon atoms are the same, as are all electrons, protons, and neutrons. It didn't have to be that way, but it makes the universe beautiful. Who would care about the universe being beautiful except for a divine, benevolent entity, such as myself?"

Who indeed? And even then, why? It got me thinking, about creating things that are beautiful, and why anyone does that. I used to create things that were beautiful, but I didn't do it for fame or glory or attention, I did it because I simply couldn't stop myself. That thing, just existing, being beautiful, was enough. It's existence brought me pleasure regardless of who saw it, or recognized my talent, or commented on it's beauty. I required nothing of my creation.

Also, I think that when something is created, be it a planet or a painting or anything else, a part of the creator is poured into it. There is a reflection there of it's source, a piece of the artist is immortalized in that reflection.

Like a child who has her father's eyes.

Then I saw this video and felt something click.

Yes, the world is beautiful, and it seems to me that it was created intentionally to be that way, as were we humans. Perhaps God has poured Himself into this creation, so that His essence is here in everything we do, and as we create our own beautiful things, whatever they may be, we are creating more reflections, like a hall of mirrors, so that the beauty is magnified and cast about, and shared and multiplied. Perhaps the purpose of our lives is to revel in that beauty, to embrace full every aspect of our lives, to experience every moment in the purest way possible.

I had noticed in my religious explorations that many religions have ideas on the avoidance and explanation of pain and suffering, but something always irked me about it. I have seen tremendous good come of suffering, I have felt pain and suffering teach me and change me into a better person. I think that avoiding pain is not the goal. Happiness is not the goal. It's consciousness.... presence.

Perhaps the whole point is revelling in this beautiful world, and when suffering, to embrace the lessons that it brings. Perhaps the attempt to avoid suffering only creates more suffering. Perhaps pure experience is the daily challenge.

This brings me to my father, who has understandably been on my mind as of late. He is a man adept at the avoidance of suffering, and skilled at self sabotage. I think it would be safe to say that his current predicament is the result of a long domino effect, the dominos being his choices. To the casual observer, his decisions might seem rash, stupid, ill advised and even (gasp) illogical, but recent circumstances have brought be to realize something.... his choices have been disturbingly calculated. He has a destination in his subconscious mind, and without realizing it, he is taking himself exactly where he believes he belongs.....

Soon I will receive a phone call telling me that my dad is implying that he is suicidal. He will not be suicidal because he wants to die, but because he does not want to live with the consequences of his actions. He will not kill himself because deep down he wants to be punished for all the things he's done, and he doesn't have the courage to release himself. This cycle has been going on for 51 years, and I can tell you why: Avoidance.

At some point, my father was hurting, and instead of dealing his pain, learning from it, overcoming it, he suppressed it, ran away, pretended it wasn't there. So the pain came back, with a different face but all the same old tricks, and once again he ran away. Around and around we go. 51 years, attempting to revel in the beauty but refusing to reckon with the pain.

My dad doesn't see that you can't have one without the other. They are two sides to the coin, the yin and yang, if you will. Without this balance we would be shallow, spoiled, fat upper middle class north american brats..... those irritating kids you swear you'll never raise. Without discipline and limitations and hard lessons we are foolish and soft and weak.

The real tragedy of my father is not that he has wasted so many years with running and hiding and hurting himself, or that he's so miserable and his children have the challenge of reckoning with (or running from) his stupid choices. Or that at the age of 51 he's lost his livelihood, and possibly family (again) all because he couldn't deal with the possibility of happiness.

The tragedy is that he's a broken mirror. A creation with a shattered and distorted reflection. He was created to revel in the beauty of his environment, but instead he burns bridges and breaks windows and creates for himself an environment more to his taste, something that someone somewhere somehow convinced him was the thing he deserved, the thing that he couldn't avoid.

My dad says he doesn't believe in hell. I think he's telling the truth. I think that's why he's working so hard at it here. That's his tragedy.

I do have my father's eyes. But I see something very different.

5 Comments:

Blogger SocietyVs said...

"I have felt pain and suffering teach me and change me into a better person. I think that avoiding pain is not the goal. Happiness is not the goal. It's consciousness.... presence." (Ursa)

You know, I think you have something here of great credence. I was just talking to a friend about the goal in life - and she said to be happy. I said to be content. But when you really look into it - maybe being aware or present is the best ideal of all (isn't living what we all strive for).

I also have felt that suffering and pain build character and make us ask the hard questions - the one's we never fully realize until a bout with pain happens. I feel the same way as you about the idea of suffering (how Buddhist of me) - but I learn a lot about the human frailty and hurt in those times - that also makes me a little more compassionate than prior.

May 30, 2007 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Richard said...

To pick up a point from earlier in your post, many people try to give life a reason, to say we're here to "worship god" or something similar.

I feel that the point of living your life is to live for yourself, if you're living for someone else, how can you really know yourself?

Surely to live like that is to not truly live at all?

June 13, 2007 2:41 PM  
Blogger unkle e said...

I wonder whether the overwhelming importance of worshiping God is God's idea - did he actually say that anywhere? (I can't think of anything offhand.)

But if there's a god, and if he/she/it is as powerful as we think, then everything almost by definition owes its existnece to that god and we can only really exist sensibly in the universe if we live in the light of that truth. Just as the only way to live in earth is to relate to Oxygen by breathing.

So maybe any command about worshiping God is for our benefit, not God's?

And maybe "worship" means more than sitting on clouds in nightdresses playing harps, but means using our gifts and talents and opportunities to follow the good and creative example of God?

Well that's my thoughts, anyway.

June 17, 2007 4:14 AM  
Anonymous ursa smaller said...

those are good thoughts, unkle, and I agree about worship involving more than just singing songs..... I've long thought that worshipping involves doing the things that you were born to do.

June 18, 2007 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, worshipping God is doing the things that you were created to do, using your gifts and talents.
As sad as it is I think you have your Dad pegged right, the situation pegged right...I wish he could could have the ears to har and the eyes to see.

March 08, 2008 2:02 PM  

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