Dodie sitting on top of the world Dodie's World title bar
Just a note of disclaimer:

The following article is not in any way a reflection on the kind people I am currently surrounded with in my life, nor the church that I consider my 'spiritual home.' It is simply an attempt to put into words the difficulty I wrestle with as I attempt to solidify a belief system that works for me. And it seems, the deeper I delve into this dilemma, the stronger becomes my urge to make my own 'truth' known to the outside world. Sadly, I fear that struggle is the name of the game. While it may appear to me (from the outside) that others don't have as much difficulty reconciling their realities with the 'spiritual truths' they are embracing, I could be wrong. Maybe they're just better at dealing with confusion than I am. Maybe they're more accepting of the ambiguities of life.

That's okay. I've dealt with some pretty ugly realities in my lifetime. And I'm alive to tell about it. My life will go on.......some days up.... some days down..... In the end, it may have no ultimate meaning at all.... how would we ever know???
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April 5, 2009

How Does Everyone Else Do It?
I've been down this road before. I recognize it..... It's the same downward spiral I experienced a couple of years ago when I began to grow weary of trying to believe something I knew in my heart wasn't true, and was not working--for me. Back then, of course, I had good reason to keep trying desperately to make it all work: I was in a hopeless situation in a hostile work environment that was not going to get better, no matter what I did to try to change it. What I wanted more than anything, was someone to tell me, "It'll be all right, things will work out, you'll see." I wanted emotional support to help me deal with the reality of the situation, but what I really needed was someone to tell me HOW I could change it. What I have since learned is that, sometimes reality just cannot be changed. No matter how much we want it. No matter how much we wish for it, dream of it. No matter how many positive affirmations we say, no matter how hard we pretend.

I've spent a number of years, off and on, dabbling in this very 'you-can-do-it-with-positive-thinking, only-trust-and-believe' little church. On the one hand, the people are very kind and accepting, and there are never any hellfire-and-brimstone sermons of: 'repent, sinner!' (Obviously I wouldn't be there if they taught that, since I jettisoned that useless way of thinking years ago! No one needs to be subjected to those kinds of ideas on a regular basis!)

On the other hand, a good deal of the time I feel like such an alien and a fraud. The message of the church is pretty much: 'We create our own reality, we are entirely responsible for what happens in our own lives, and we have the power to change it or do anything we set our minds to.' Now, clearly, to me, this is utter nonsense. While I understand the integral part my own actions and behaviors play in creating the life I experience, it's obvious that there are also many outside influences and factors that I have no control over. Frankly, I find it offensive to be told point-blank: 'Whatever's going on in your life, you created it!'

I think this line of thinking may help some people assign meaning to an otherwise wildly chaotic existence. Maybe they can't live with the idea that sometimes: "SHIT JUST HAPPENS." They want to know why. So any explanation is better than not knowing. That way of thinking, however troubles me. Maybe I'm a cynic. Maybe I'm too attached to the concept of 'honesty.' Or maybe I've lived in the 'REAL' world too long--I guess I just can't bring myself to believe in pretty, improbable fairy tales of ultimate purpose and divine will.

I've seen this shift in my thinking coming on gradually in the past few weeks. Last night's Karen Drucker concert seemed to nudge it forward. Now I enjoy Karen's music, and she put on a great show, no doubt about it. But being in the state-of-mind that I currently am (more inclined toward reality than 'white-light'), I responded with a particularly strong cognitive dissonance. She seems so genuine in her belief in this love-based way of thinking, but I found myself asking: 'What does this have to do with me?' What good is getting all choked up with warm, fuzzy feelings, and 'love for your neighbor'.... what good is any of that? It's all pretend, it's all just make-believe for the moment, and it really IS like a drug-induced high because, when you come down, you realize that it was totally artificial, that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the REAL world, and that life must go on. The mundane, the boring, the pointless, the meaninglessness, and for lots of people, the evil and violence and hatred that they must deal with on a daily basis. I ask again: what good does it do these people to get them all psyched up, fill them with hope, and then send them right back out into a world that simply does not operate on the principle of 'let's-all-love-each-other-and-be-kind'? It may work as a temporary escape for some people, but for me, it simply makes me even more aware of how unrealistic and useless it is for 'the REAL world.'

I'm not saying I don't understand why people need an escape--I'm saying that escapes don't work for me. Period. I would rather know the truth, and face the truth, and deal with the truth, than to be constantly jerked back and forth from an artificial world of goodness and light to the glaring truth of the real world we all have to live in. I've always been very big on truth and honesty, and I'm finding that no matter how hard I try (and I really have tried), all this make-believe just doesn't seem to be helpful to me. I think I'd probably get more out of a good movie. At least the movie-makers don't pretend that their stories are anything other than escapism.

I think that's what troubles me most about the 'white-light' approach to life. It is so obviously only an imaginary utopia--lofty and hopeful and idealistic, yes--but it doesn't work in real life. Real life with real people who have either never heard of it, or think it's total bullshit and couldn't care less about whether we all 'love' each other. I lived in that real world for many, many years. I went to work every day, and dealt with people who were selfish and greedy and thoughtless and mean, as a matter of course. If you dared to suggest that their behavior had hurt your feelings, if you tried to work it out, you would get the blank empty stare of: "What the hell are you talking about?" I learned never to admit the hurt and frustration I felt. It didn't matter--they could tell anyway.

My experience in the real world is the reason I am sitting home alone today, afraid to even try to get back into the workforce, because right now, I just can't face dealing with that kind of pain again. I don't really mind being alone a lot of the time. I've always been a very solitary person, and I do enjoy my own company. However, I did derive a certain sense of purpose and usefulness from my work (despite the emotional turmoil from dealing with the people). And I haven't yet found anything to replace that. I enjoy the freedom, but I seem to be drifting. Something real and concrete and useful to live for would be nice. And some ultimate, underlying reality to believe in might be helpful too. For now.... I'm afraid that is out of reach........

I have enjoyed very much getting to know some truly kind and caring folks as a result of spending more time at church activities. And I don't discount their worth. But I still feel like an outsider looking in because.... I feel like I'm only playing a game. They believe, but I can't. Well, at least there's some consolation: at this church, you don't go to hell for not believing!!

P.S. Can you tell that I've never found 'love' to be particularly useful or substantial in dealing with life????? And that I've also never been particularly inclined to 'trust God'???? Thanks, but I prefer someone at the helm who has my best interest at heart--that would be me!

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