I’ve been struggling with topics, things to write about lately. I know people are tired of hearing about COVID-19, and yet it’s also all people really want to read about, and I really don’t like writing, or talking about it. I’m a member of a couple of local Rants&Raves groups on Facebook and they are consumed with COVID, but no one is really actually saying anything; it’s the drama of it, events such as this give certain people a reason to behave dramatically while reason and rational thought don’t really animate a lot of people.
I’ve seen a couple of memes and quotes going around comparing COVID-19 to H1N1, Trump and Obama era viruses, the comparison of a few side-by-side is pretty funny because well, first of all they were antithetical politically, but the statistics and words were nearly identical only the tone was different. One was suggesting that Obama era’s H1N1 was a larger pandemic, it affected more people but our response to it was considerably more calm, because the way Obama handled it, while the other (Trump era COVID) although with a smaller impact had a greater media presence suggesting that Trump is taking it more seriously—hence the national reaction. It’s just funny to me, assigning blame and praise to people as opposed to parties, to parties as opposed countries, and to countries as opposed to nature. Thank you Obama and/or Trump for allowing Nature to take its course, how would the American people have survived without either of you making amended comments regarding the undomesticated course of chance. MotherNature 2020!
Anyway, aside from the first paragraph, I don’t want to talk about Coronavirus: COVID-19. I’m just trying to get those of you that can’t get enough of it hooked to this column so that you might actually read something beyond the scope of the Coronavirus.
It was suggested to me that I use a blog idea generator and write about the 5th idea ‘down,’ so this column will focus on me “Documenting my experience trying something new, or giving something up.”
There are a number of things that jumped out at me when I initially approached the topic:
The first was my experience parenting and how, overnight, I became, essentially, the sole provider and caregiver of two children, neither of which were mine.
However, after sleeping on it, and then rethinking this topic this morning in the shower, and again a good bit while I was at work and out of the house (I work at Natural Grocers grocery store) I thought about documenting my experience trying LSD, but it was rather uneventful; LSD doesn’t engage the mind like shrooms does, it’s just visually stimulating and other than me pointing to the shapes and designs on the carpet and some blankets that were hanging on the walls, and me asking the two friends of mine that joined in the experience if, “...those [are] supposed to be moving?” it wasn’t all that spectacular.
...and I thought, too about documenting my first real, prolonged experience smoking. That too, was limited only to the two weeks that I had two French girls from Paris staying with me, via Couchsurfing.com, in Santa Fe. The first thing they would do, once waking up in the morning, was to stand out on the porch in a French nightgown smoking a cigarette, and it was only then that the appeal of smoking became, suddenly, much more clear to me. “Veux-tu une cigarett?” (would you like a cigarette?”) “I can see right through that nightgown. Fuck yeah, je veux une cigarette!” Almost every morning for two weeks I started my day with a cigarette, but as soon as they left I never felt the need, or the desire to pick one up again.
The other ideas were a product, only of an under-active mind cooped up in a small, dark house and needing the mental stimulation of being surrounded by an active society, and that’s something that we’re all sorely missing right now; even the introverts and homebodies.
There is something that required many, many years of conversation and thought and absolution and open mindedness to really open my eyes up to allowing myself to see something that I was, essentially, raised not to see.
Those of you that read this column have read about my relationship with religion, and G~d and, although, I have discussed parts of it in some detail I’m not sure that I ever actually documented the experience of allowing myself to try looking at something, anything really through a lens that wasn’t blurred by condition, expectation, and stigmas. This is my experience trying something new: opening my mind, to something that many people who claim to have an open mind simply refuse to realize.
I have shared that my father considers himself agnostic, but only because he accepts that he might have to call himself something and for lack of interest, I think, he settled with agnosticism. He was raised in a strict conservative, southern baptist family and to be completely honest I don’t think the politics or the religion of it matter much to him, I believe he cared only to rebel, and that revolution has lasted his entire life.
My mother was raised Catholic. She spent her entire scholastic term at an all-girl Catholic school; 12 years, in Catholic school. If you’ve seen The Trouble with Angels, you might have a pretty good idea of how my mom spent those years, with the exception, of course, of joining the sisterhood and remaining on to teach for the rest of her life. No, mom went a different way. She couldn’t reject the idea that there was a higher power greater than herself, that much was clear to her, she just needed a different way to view that higher power—as long as it wasn’t based in the foundational dogma of Christianity. She had developed a stigma. I don’t know, exactly what happened while she was in Catholic school but I do know that the distance that exists between man and G~d can sometimes be filled with hypocrisy, and seeing that day-in-and-day-out for years, for your formidable years can be influential.
It also took me years to even realize that I maintained a stigma against Christianity, I didn’t even know it was there; when I was triggered by certain words or ideas rooted in Christian belief there would be a tightness in my chest, and my first instinct was to argue, avidly against whatever was being said. I became defensive, and I didn’t even know it.
Once I was, finally able to recognize my stigmas I challenged myself to let it go, I wanted to see everything through new eyes, and with an open heart. But, how do you dislodge a stigma that has been conditioned heedlessly, carelessly since birth?
I started listening to people about their beliefs, and every time I felt the tightness in my core developing I consciously acknowledged it, and when the urge to argue a point or challenge an idea or an assumption came up I stopped myself, and simply listened.
And, what I learned is that I was the one maintaining the assumptions. For a lot of people G~d is a trigger word, and maintaining a belief in G~d demands certain underlying expectations and ideals, but not by those that believe - I stress that point - the expectations and interpretations that challenge your assumptions about G~d in a negative way are deeply-rooted in a stigma that has been defined, only by the holder of the stigma. If you’re unsure what I mean, try looking at it this way: you were raised watching how your parents interact with one another, how they chose to express themselves to each other in their relationship and, as a result, you have unconsciously developed an expectation of what a relationships is, or supposed to be based entirely on that perception. Period. A negative emotional reaction to a belief system is based in deeply-rooted unconscious expectations.
OK, I’m going to try to drastically avert this technical crap.
G~d is not exclusive to Christian Dogma. G~d is as much an idea as he is a divine entity. But it’s really easy when your stigmas forfeit your ability to relate to the act of creation, if you can’t see past your own misgivings. G~d is the act of creation inasmuch as G~d is the creator there’s very little difference except how you choose to perceive it; but one of these ideas is a lot more easy to swallow for people who have an active distaste for Christian doctrine, in large part due to the behavior of Christians, but you’re forgetting that it’s not really the behavior of Christians, but rather the behaviors of humans whom happen to be Christian, whom you are clumping together as a means, simply to ease your own conscripted worldview.
G~d is G~d. It really isn’t much more complicated than that, unless you allow it to be.
At least that’s the process that I allowed myself to take over the course of many years, and many conversations, and many choices, and doubts, and challenges, and assumptions in order to find a more balanced perspective, which has since allowed me to rebuild on a belief system that has grown, and a relationship that has grown, not with any of you or with a specific person but with G~d.
...if nothing else, this is a template for you to use so that you might begin to challenge your own assumptions and expectations, in order to acknowledge and create/rebuild an open mind for you to use however it best applies to you.
I have written both music, and advice columns that covered a wide variety of topics, such as: relationships, communication, lifestyle, business, and life (coaching)