A week back, after yet another mild but pointless emotional outburst online, I felt like it was maybe time to return (yet again) to being me. I wanted desperately to regain that sexy sense of self that always feels so familiar and almost always leads to me suffering blunt force trauma to my soul. The peak of this thing – My Ego – is located somewhere between 2007 and the beginnings of its slow, loud demise in 2009. Probably around the time I stopped wearing a beenie and discovered the complete lack of rewards for being a giant asshole to everyone.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling a little vulnerable, I enter my head to find this precious chunk of ego and wear him like a bad suit. It’s my first great escape when I feel a little fear creeping in around my life. It’s all of ours, really. We all have the potential to be huge dicks to one another, and I find that the further I slip away from that state, the harder and harsher my return trip to it can be. Like people that have lots of fun when they leave the church, but make for crazy strict believers when they go back.
Mark and I, and later Preneil, went to Liz Dom‘s 21st last Saturday. For the occasion, I resurrected a little bit of my old arrogant self, then promptly put him out of his misery. I slept at a friend’s house when things got blind. It reminded me so much of 2007 that I started to wonder if maybe I was dreaming the whole adventure and any minute I’d wake up in sunny 2011. When I opened my eyes, I was instead greeted by the sunny reality of the Holy Bible, staring me in the face from the bedside table. A sign from God? Maybe that I should leave the room immediately.
Christian literature, or the works of its “edgiest” believers, were all over the room. I felt like maybe this part was the dream. Behind the bedroom door, I found something else that had me in a trance for the rest of the morning: a massive poster depicting the two paths one’s life could take, one of Enlightenment and the other of utter Destruction, separated by a canyon. The one that looked more like reality, except for all the angels and the guy drinking water from crucified Jesus’ feet, led to giant glowing fortress that looked like it was straight out of Neverending Story.
The other path, while pockmarked with the realities of modern crime, death and fashion, was much rockier and climaxed, like all lives filled with sinful sexual encounters, in a fiery gorge.
Each image, from the guy soliciting the hooker on Path B, to Jesus just hanging in the sky and pointing ironically on Path A, was accompanied by a number which I could check against a key. Every image had a ‘relevant’ piece of scripture to go with it, with some being really specific to the pictures and others vaguely resembling anything even metaphorical.
Now I don’t have a problem with belief as a concept, because I know some very pleasant Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. who don’t publicize the fact that they think I’m going to die horribly in a fire for all eternity. Some people talk about a massive hole in their core that only God can fill, or a desire to worship that hides sneakily in all of us like some sort of Ninja Jesus. It’s interesting to note that most of the really strict believers I know spend more time saying this stuff out loud to themselves than they do convincing me that even they believe it. That may be because they’ve never had a strong frontman.
But psychology tells us that beliefs can be formed through repetition, and I’ve read that it takes around 2 months to solidify a belief. This begs questions about how much we actually know and how much we just tell ourselves what we know.
Let’s not whimsically attack believers, though. After all, if I raised my child to believe that cars had souls, he’d see evidence of it in everything, too, and maybe he’d even kill other people when they laughed at him. He’d probably start hating their guts based on that minor difference in their thinking. I’m not anti-belief, because existing means believing in something, even if it’s just that nothing really exists. I’m as negative towards “evangelical” Atheists as I am towards anyone else who believes in something aggressively enough to let it blind them from seeing the other sides of reality.
I think that believers are right, too: there is a God-shaped hole in all of our souls, but that no amount of hellfire or heavenly light will fill it. Not while we’re still here…
The way I see it, when I’m feeling like shit, there are two options I turn to most often for solutions. Even when desperately pleading to God for grace or guidance, I either seek out the comfort of ego or of community. Sometimes both. But where ego invariably let’s you down, because it’s all built from shaky borderline personality disorder-flavored flecks of self-interest, there’s nothing quite like friends, even brand new ones, to revive a waning spirit.
Why is that? No one goes to a bar to drink in solitude unless they’re a very sad person. They’d rather break down on a friend’s shoulder about their problems and feelings. And if the friend isn’t too burdened by ego, they usually make for good listeners and advisors. They put you to bed in their little brother’s room, filled with unsettling Christian paraphernalia as punishment, sure, but they still give you something that solo counsel with The Big G can’t. Maybe that’s because humanity, like everything else on this sexy planet of ours, is striving for something beyond the separatist ideologies of My god and His god and Their god. Somewhere beyond the violent clashing egos, clutching at the remains of faltering belief systems, there’s a unified Godmind trying, fighting, to emerge triumphantly and launch us into the real future. The Future where we all live in the same Neverending Story palace together, and we build some for whoever didn’t get one, and we build a bridge from Path A to Path B, so no one has to walk to the flaming gorge except so we can put out the fire.
And by the way, the only thing stopping us from all working together to build Paradise here on Earth isn’t an evil God. It’s just our precious sense of self, disconnected from the stuff that binds us into one another. We’re hindering our own development, our own success as a race, with toxic ideas and toxic personalities. We live in a world where fear is played up more than any of our other feelings, but it’s not a fear-based universe by nature. We can overcome those feelings and start making real decisions and have the things we want and need as a race.
It’s just like The Beatles, famous for self-destruction under the strain of clashing ideologies, realized one time: “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”.
[EDIT – While I probably did get a little “evangelical” myself with the above, I’d love to hear your thoughts on God, religion, our future as a species, etc. in the comments section below.]