People are predictable and stupid.
And yes, I am also referring to the idiot in the mirror.
People (which is to say, I) am/are endlessly creative in finding ways to act out the Same Old Thing, which is FEAR. A mostly-nameless Fear which mostly grows, I think, from our oh-so-human Fear of Death.
This is understandable. Death is huge. It looms. It's a big, dark, looming THING, beyond which (if we are being honest -- and why not?) we have nothing but hearsay. In the face of this all-canceling, Looming-Dooming Death-thing we (which is to say, I) make all sorts of self-assurances, repeating them until we no longer see them as the Inventions they are, but rather as Reality Itself. In so doing, we abdicate our faiths and find terra firma not in an abstract Hope, but rather in our insistence on the concreteness of this (at least partially fictitious) self-story.
1. My job makes my life meaningful in the face of death.
2. My significant relationships make my life meaningful in the face of death.
3. A flower in a crannied wall makes my life meaningful in the face of death.
4. My membership in some organization makes my life meaningful in the face of death.
5. The religious assurances of an institution I bow to makes my life meaningful in the face of death.
6. The stuff I own makes my life meaningful in the face of death.
This is where the stupid, predictable part comes in. Because once we have used these Sacred-Cow-Type things to create assurances of things that (again, why not be honest?) we can only hope for, the moment anyone says anything that threatens to undermine the Complete and Inarguable Truthfulness of one of these things, our Fear of Death goes BING! and -- given that our lives are rather important to us -- we either run, or we fight back.
Fight or Flight. It's just that simple.
This is perhaps why, when I wrote a story entitled "Sanctuary" (found in my short story collection HERE) that criticized certain aspects of large-church structure, my boss at the time -- who happened to be the Principal of a school that operated under the auspices of a large church structure -- took that story as yet another strike against me in his decision to take away my job.
Perhaps this is also why people who go to a church where the Supreme Leader does something in direct contravention of what that church is supposed to stand for will either circle the wagons and ignore anyone who points this tomfoolery out, or will lash out at the "attacker."
It's not that they have heard and rejected the arguments, it's that they are unable to hear at all, because the moment someone spoke out against one aspect of something from which they were getting a piece of their life-meaning-in-the-face-of-death, their adrenal glands went into overdrive and BAM! their ears stopped working.
Is this a patronizing thing for me to say?
Well, yes. Absolutely. It assumes I'm right and that other people are being driven willy-nilly by their emotions. Except, what else can I assume except that I am right? And people are being driven around by their emotions. Besides, I'm speaking from a long history spent defending my own sacred cows. As a result, I don't see these activities as anything more than just the everyday, run-of-the-mill stupid predictability that I encounter in my own life, again and again and again.
For example: I have made a date this weekend. With a woman. A beautiful, funny, intelligent (did I mention beautiful) woman, who for some reason has agreed to a fourth date with me, of all people. A date of pie-making, and pumpkin-carving, and dinner, and then a Onesie Party (don't ask).
Hot diggetty, amiright?!?
It's only our fourth date, but I've really enjoyed the first three, and I'm already starting to... you guessed it... find a tiny bit of meaning-in-the-face-of-death from our interactions.
Which is cool, I guess, except that she just emailed to tell me that she might not be able to make it because of an ear infection and ARMIGARSH! there goes that fear again. Ear Infection?!? Who gets an ear infection? It's probably more like an ex-boyfriend-back-in-town-infection, amiright? Or a, Idon'tlikeyouanymore infection, right? Right!?!
Rather than examine the facts...
1.Three good dates so far.
2. People sometimes get sick.
...My fear leads me to unwarranted, unnecessary, and relationally-unhealthy conclusions. No human relationship thrives on fear, but despite the fact that I am obviously above all of this, I somehow keep falling victim to the same knee-jerk fear reaction as always.
Here's a window of hope, though: Love. Love has the capacity to drive out that fear.
I can love myself enough that I do not need the affection of a woman in order to go bravely toward my death. I can trust so much in the transcendent, illimitable, incomprehensible Love of the Divine that I no longer need some screwed-up institution or some failed, flawed individual to be my intermediary between myself, and my Self-at-Peace.
I can do this not by knowing that I am Lovable, or that there is some Higher Power that Loves me, but by hoping for those things -- because the moment I start demanding knowledge of that Love is the moment I begin to once again fall victim to the sort of stupid, predictable, fear-driven way of living that got me into this predicament in the first place.
Fear is where divorce comes from.
Fear is where wars, and murder, and bullies stealing your lunch money comes from.
Love can cast out that fear. I don't know it, but I hope for it... even if that makes me stupid, and predictable.
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