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Posts from the ‘Questions’ Category

Humans Anonymous

Human beings are prone to addiction.

I don’t care who you are, or how much balance/temperance/ restraint with which you live your life. I KNOW you have a penchant for some thing or another. A go-to habit or vice that you know is, to some degree, unhealthy.

It could be as insignificant as nail-biting. It might be as serious as alcoholism or anorexia. But I know you have at least one.

Because we are needy creatures. All of us. Whether we are married or single, old or young, black or white, gay or straight, employed or not, we almost all have days when we feel something is missing; when we are longing for some unidentifiable “more.”

As a Christian, I thought that something was God. That we were made with a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts that could only be filled by a personal relationship with him through Jesus. Of course, I was always baffled as to why that empty feeling persisted even in the midst of my most fervent phases of Christianity.

I did have moments of freedom and peace. Moments when everything was so clear and light. I knew what really mattered in my life. I knew who I was and what I wanted. I was filled with love for the world and grace and forgiveness for its brokenness. I lost all sense of self-consciousness.

And those moments, as a Christian, did often follow times of extended prayer (in the form of journaling) or worship (in the form of singing praise songs), or an inspiring sermon.

They also happened after long hikes out in the mountains, long drives in the car with a good CD, intimate conversations with a close friend.

Before I stepped off the ledge and finally let go of my faith, I wondered if those moments of clarity and insight and absolute magnanimity and peace I had had would disappear.

They didn’t.

Funny thing – they actually happened MORE frequently immediately following my de-conversion. And they happen now about as often as they used to. Maybe even slightly more. And that makes sense.

Because I’ve learned by experience that those moments were not brought on by some sort of increased mystical connection with God. They were produced by mental space and focus and a regaining of perspective.

When I have my “zen” moments now, when all seems right inside my heart and mind and in the world, it is after a good long journaling session, or a quiet day of gardening and organizing, or a heart-to-heart with a kindred spirit, or an amazing concert, or a powerful true story, or a bike ride out on one of Puget Sound’s beautiful islands.

These types of activities accomplish the same thing in my mind/heart/spirit that prayer-journaling and worship and Bible reading and sermons accomplished before:

They get me out of the crazy-busy world, out of my crazy-busy life logistics, and out of my crazy-busy head.

They quiet all the mental noise and help me realize that everything I have, I need; that everything I am is alright; that I need not live in fear of pain or loss or sickness or even death, because those things are inevitable. Worrying about them only increases their chances of occurrence, and when they do come, they can be dealt with then – one day at a time, with patience and mindfulness and compassion and love.

I do think we humans have a sort of “hole” inside of ourselves. Not a God-shaped one, necessarily, but a sort of empty-ness. I think at its root it is really the unfortunate tendency resulting from natural selection to want as much as we can get our hands on; to want the best for ourselves; to never be satisfied with what we have. And while this character trait has clearly been effective in helping our ancestors survive to pass along their genes, it also has resulted in a lot of inner turmoil.

And I think in order to deal with that inner turmoil – so we don’t get home from a stressful, painful day of life and eat an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies (my particular addiction of choice), or fry our brains on Seinfeld re-runs, or drink ourselves into oblivion, or cut ourselves, or force ourselves to run 10 miles on five carrot sticks, or finally end it all by jumping off a bridge – we have to raise our level of consciousness.

We have to realize this self-defeating character flaw we all have and rise above it. We have to let go of our selfishness and self-awareness and insatiable need for more. We have to step away into the quiet and take a good look around and see reality.

We have to tell ourselves, “Enough!” I have enough. Enough food. Enough clothing. Enough toys. Enough time. And I am enough. Pretty enough, smart enough, good enough, accomplished enough.

And then embrace life. Drink deeply of it. Of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, the awesomeness of the universe, the glory of humanity’s capacity for understanding, communication, exploration, discovery, creativity and survival. Of our own infinitely unique personalities and bodies and abilities and joys.

Hi. My name is Erin and I am a recovering human. It has been eleven days since my last cookie binge. I know there is a good possibility it will happen again. But by the grace of my mind and reason, I am living one day at a time to the best of my ability, letting go of my selfishness and desperate pursuit of More, reminding myself that there is Enough.

If you are on a similar journey, my heart goes out to you. Welcome to Humans Anonymous.

Truth Is Not My God

I just read a great interview with Dr. Daniel Fincke, Doctor of Philosophy at Fordham University in New York State, over at the blog Anything But Theist. Both interviewer and interviewee consider themselves atheist, but, as is always the case with any two individuals, each holds his own unique combination of perspectives when it comes to the details.

The question they were addressing in the interview was the value of truth. As Dr. Fincke asked it, “Just how much should we prioritize truth over other goods?”

I have to admit this question stopped me in my tracks.

Even as a Christian I valued truth above all else. As a child and young adult I equated God and my particular perspective on him with Truth. My God was the most valuable thing. My God WAS truth. Truth was by far above and beyond the most valuable.

When I came to the realization that my religion did not have a corner on truth, in fact diametrically opposed so much of what was objectively and verifiably true about reality, I stripped Truth of its Christian paraphernalia and kept it alone – naked, purer, bigger, grander than any religion – as my God.

It wasn’t until reading the interview just now that I questioned that unconscious choice of value (though in reality, I haven’t practiced it).

While much of the atheist/agnostic literature I have read over the past couple of years has urged free-thinkers to proclaim objective truth to the masses of believers, I have never felt comfortable with that. Ironically, I have experienced the same sort of guilt over my failure as an atheist “evangelist” that I did over my failure as a Christian one.

In my experience, the people of faith that I know and love are living very good, productive, happy lives…in certain ways more so than my agnostic friends. And while I don’t believe that they are living from the most accurate understanding of reality, I have rarely felt the need to challenge their perspectives (except on certain topics related to sexual ethics).

And I guess that is because I am a pragmatist at heart. I ask myself, “What works?” and then I go with that. What actually, in practice, helps create the best possible world? It takes some trial and error, but I think this is the most functional M.O.

Theories about the way things should be and how they should work are great, but if, when you apply them, they don’t, then what is the point?

My friends and family are intelligent people. They have thought about what they believe. And they still believe those things. Just as I can only believe what my life experience has lead me to believe, so it is with them. And their lives have not yet led them to a place in which they can look objectively at Christianity. And there is nothing I can do about it.

And if I am going to promote peace and love between us (which I believe promotes peace and love and health and happiness on a global scale, ultimately), it is not going to be by trying to shove my rationalism down their throats.

So yeah. I guess I’m going to have to remove truth from slot number one on my list of values, and slide it into second place underneath human health and happiness (which is really the way it has been in practice all along).

I’m also going to be done feeling guilty about it.

And I’m also going to thank Dr. Fincke for freeing me up to not feel guilty.

It is very rare and very refreshing to hear an atheist acknowledge that atheism can become a dogmatic system of thought just as much as any religion. As he and Nietzsche, whom he frequently references, point out, no human being, regardless of philosophy or commitment to objectivity, can be completely objective. We are subjective, feeling creatures. We are swayed by our emotions and personal experiences.

As my very wise dad often reminded us kids growing up, “The mind justifies what the heart chooses,” and that works both ways, in every direction.

None of us are free from bias. Ever.

And if that is the case, maybe there IS no such thing as ultimate, objective truth, since we – the only conscious beings in existence able to consider the concept – will never be able, completely, to detect it.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try. But maybe we just shouldn’t get too hung up on it either.

And I think that’s what Dr. Fincke, a man infinitely more educated in these matters than I, was saying also. (My apologies if I’m wrong about that, Dr.)

Just FYI – Dr. Fincke blogs regularly over at Cammels With Hammers. I highly recommend you check it out. He has some really great things to say.

In fact, I’m planning on next reading a short guest post there by Eric Steiner entitled, “Do Atheists Worship Truth?”  and I think you should too. From my quick perusal earlier, it promises to be  meaty.

Why I Am Not A Christian (Part IV)

7.) NO ANSWER IS BETTER THAN A BAD ANSWER.

It is true that there is SO much we don’t yet (and may never) know about how the world works, how life got started, who Jesus actually was and how the events surrounding his life (assuming he was a real person) actually played out (and for that matter, what actually went down in most of human history). There is so much that we just can’t explain based on what we currently know, especially when it comes to events (whether biological or sociological) that happened in the very distant past.

And that doesn’t sit well with us.

We humans have this beautiful and obsessive need to understand things. (Perhaps engrained in us by evolution, that we may better predict and prepare for future events and thereby promote our survival…?)

And this need has driven us historically, in the absence of clear, observable explanations, to make up explanations. Weather patterns, reproduction, disease, and so many more natural phenomena we observe have been attributed to the intervention of a god or gods. But as time has marched on and human understanding has increased (in large part due to the development and application of the scientific process) more and more of these phenomena have been moved from the supernatural “shelf” to the natural one.

Today we know that the movement of the stars across the sky is the result of planetary orbit and has nothing to do with any sort of drama being played out by divine beings. We know that earthquakes happen because of shifts in tectonic plates caused by temperature differences between the earth’s core and crust and the resultant convection of molten rock, and not because any god is angry with us. We know that babies are made when a sperm fertilizes an egg, and that children often inherit the diseases of their parents as the result of the random sorting of DNA during meiosis and the uniting of randomly selected gametes, and not because of a family curse.

At one time, these phenomena were completely mysterious and the causes anyone’s guess. Today they are not.

Today, there are other questions that stump us. How could the first protein have been made if it takes a protein to make a protein? How could multi-part molecular systems that work so intricately and elegantly have happened accidentally? How come a few rare people recover miraculously and unexpectedly from terminal illnesses? Why do certain equally rare people have visions and insights and skills that are far above and beyond what most of us ever experience?

And the list goes on.

And just as human beings have done in the past when life is mysterious and unexplainable, many of us are tempted to say, “This is evidence of God. There is no way this could happen without the intervention of a supernatural force.”

It’s the whole “God of the gaps” idea. And the problem with it is that the gaps keep shrinking, even disappearing, or at least moving to a more theoretical, distant level.

Educated, thinking Christians (and theists in general) may say that in all of our explaining, we’ve really explained nothing. Genetics may be the mechanism of transmission of traits and disease, gravity and inertia may underlie movements of the stars and planets, etc, but God is behind all of that. He created genetics and the laws of physics and set it all in motion. He may not be individually manipulating in real time the sorting and recombination of chromosomes that create each individual person, but he put the materials and systems in place that would eventually lead to the genetic combinations that would make you and me.

At this point in time, with the now overwhelming body of evidence in support of evolution and an old earth, many Christians have had to apply this same reasoning to the development of life, positing that while evolution may be the mechanism God used, he was the ultimate cause and mastermind – the one who laid the groundwork and wound the clock and knew from the beginning of time how and when bacteria and cuttlefish and giraffes and humans would come to be.

And for the sake of this argument, I can concede that. There could be that kind of God behind it all.

Of course, if that is the kind of God you’re going to believe in, there are significant chunks of the Bible you can’t accept as literal. And other parts you can’t accept at all.

At the end of the day, a “god of the gaps” is pretty much useless. For me, the current absence of scientific answers is not reason enough to believe in a god that brings with him so much baggage and cognitive dissonance. It is possible there may be something “supernatural” (i.e. forces we cannot see or detect) at work in the world, but I’m certain (for reasons addressed in earlier posts) that it’s not the Christian God.

From my point of view, it’s much better to leave the question blank and keep searching for a good answer, than to accept a bad one for the sake of immediate gratification.

And this idea of having no answer brings me to my last point…

8.) GOD AS A “FIRST CAUSE” IS NOT NECESSARY.

If you are a Christian, this idea might be one of the most difficult to wrap your mind around. It was for me.

I’d lived all of my conscious life with the assumption that SOMETHING was behind all of this crazy amazing-ness we call reality. Even if we could figure out how it all happened, no amount of time or scientific observation could ever help us figure out why, and in my mind there HAD to be a why, or, as philosophers and theoretical physicists call it, a “first cause.”

And this assumption is held by Christians and theists of all kinds, and probably most people who have lived. Everything we experience in life has a cause behind it, so we conclude that the universe must also. It makes sense to us on a gut level.

We just feel that there must be a reason for the existence of the universe, especially a universe that is so vast and intricate and amazing and incomprehensible. And for Christians, that reason is God.

But here’s the thing. If God is the reason behind the universe, he must be even more vast and intricate and amazing and incomprehensible. So, if we stick with our thinking, there must be a reason or cause behind him, too, ad infinitum.

At some point, you must accept that something just IS. That he/she/it exists without cause.

And I realized that it makes much more sense to accept the universe as the self-existent Thing than it does to push the problem back one layer onto a concept (God) for which we have no objective evidence and which conflicts with observed reality on so many levels.

Now that I see things this way, I can hardly remember what it was like to think otherwise, kinda like looking at a Rubin vase sort of picture. But I tell you, it was a huge leap for me to make at the time…

…perhaps the hugest of them all. (I will have to dedicate a post in the near future to address this, I think.)

But for now, I need to wrap things up.

CONCLUSION

While I continue to value many of the teachings of Jesus, I am not a Christian in the traditional sense. And never will be one again, most likely.

And I promise you it’s not because I don’t want to be.

Life is freaking hard and painful and unfair and overwhelming. And it was comforting beyond words to believe that all the pain and grief of life was somehow going to be made right one day, was somehow going to be worth it.

To be certain that good would inevitably triumph over evil…

To know that when Mom died, when Dad died, when my sisters and brother died, that they would not be gone…that I would be reunited with them forever in a place of perfect peace and joy…

To trust that abused and starving children would be greeted with love and nurturing and warmth and home when they passed on…

To believe that one day I would have a perfect body that would never get sick, never be in pain, never get old or wear out…

To always have someone to talk to when I was feeling alone and confused…

It made life more tolerable, and less overwhelming, and easier to keep living on certain levels, and it was a loss, I can assure you, to have this life-long foundation dissolve underneath me, along with the free, open, honest and vulnerable relationships I’d always been able to share with my parents up until this point.

There is still a lot of love between us all, but now there is pain, too. Now there is awkwardness. Now there are walls.

I would give anything to have family be the way it was when I was still a Christian. Family was my thing. It was my happy thought; my reason to get up in the morning. It was what I most valued. It still is. And I hope that someday everything will be okay somehow, but I don’t know that it will.

The point is, my life would be a lot easier and a lot happier in a lot of ways if I could believe again.

But the funny thing about belief is that you can’t fake it.

People always talk about Pascal’s wager as if it’s really an option. But I don’t get that at all. If you are just believing perfunctorily, God’s gonna know it. Saying you believe does not make you a believer.

Either you believe or you don’t. And you can’t control whether or not you do.

You can control the information you take into your mind, to a certain degree. And that is what happened to me. I quit controlling what I let in. In my search for truth (which I was initially convinced would lead me back to God and a deeper understanding of him) I opened the doors of my mind wide.

And a flood of new information rushed in.

And unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you see things), learning is irreversible. I can’t un-know things that I now know (unless I suffer a traumatic brain injury or we invent the neuralizer Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones had so much fun with in Men in Black.)

And these things I have learned in my recent history, that I didn’t know before, are many. While I have given a brief overview of basic, foundational reasons I no longer believe in the Christian God, there are many, many more details and facts logged away in my mind that have lead me to this conclusion…

And it is those same facts that have helped me form the framework of the wonderful and beautiful new things I DO believe.

Someday soon I will share them.

Why I Am Not A Christian (Part I)

Watch out. it’s gonna be a long one…

As you might know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I used to be a Christian. A real, true, Bible-believing one. And in very many ways it was very good. In very many ways, Christianity was a beautiful thing in my life.

The central idea of the Christian faith, according to most Christians of my acquaintance, is that the world is broken – we are broken – and God in the form of Jesus Christ came to fix (save) us through his love.

I still believe that in a way. Clearly, the world has problems – big ones – that seem to stem mostly from humanity’s many psychoses. Clearly we need fixing. And I do think that the fixing will depend, ultimately, on love.

But I can’t call myself a Christian any more.

How I ended up here is a long story, involving the discovery and study of a lot of new information. In my search for truth I have gleaned information from numerous academic fields – biology, geology, physics, sociology, archeology, history, psychology, and more – and this information has all played a part in landing me where I am now. But at the end of the day, it is a few simple realizations about The-Way-Things-Are that keep me from believing as I used to.

1.) REASON AND VERIFIABLE FACT, RATHER THAN FAITH, MUST BE THE FOUNDATION FROM WHICH ANY PERSON BEGINS THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH.

 

The world is full of many religions, many philosophies, many ideas that conflict with each other. Even within Christianity there are diverse and contradictory points of view. They can’t all be true.

There are people in every one of these religions who testify earnestly and whole-heartedly of the truth and power of their beliefs. I know. I have read their testimonies and heard them speak. They share stories of emotional and physical healing, supernatural experiences, profound moments of insight and divine intervention. And they all concede that, when push comes to shove, their particular set of truths must be taken on faith.

And that is a problem. If faith is our basis for rejecting or accepting a philosophy, our likelihood of accepting the one true faith over a false one depends almost entirely on our location in the world and the relative prevalence of the various philosophies.

It is a fact that almost 100% of people die professing the same faith they were born into. And that is understandable.

Growing up as a Christian, I easily discarded the tenets and stories of other religions as mythology, based on their implausibility and departure from my own experience of reality. The main reason I believed the story of Christianity with all of its own implausibilities was that it was asserted to be true by those I loved and trusted. If I had been born into a good and loving Muslim family, all my experiences of goodness and love would be through a Muslim lens. I would love and trust my Muslim parents, just as I did my Christian parents. And I would believe that the truth they proclaim and live by must be true. I would want to be a good Muslim just as I wanted to be a good Christian, and I would have no reason to accept Christianity on faith over Islam.

If faith is the only identifier of truth, then all “truths” are essentially indistinguishable.

If one Truth exists, then, it must be recognizable by any person, from any race or religious background. In other words, we must have a universal “measuring stick” for gauging which philosophy is the most true – i.e. which is the most correct, good, and consistent with the physical reality that we can all see and feel and touch and agree on.

You can’t just accept on faith that the Christian perspective is the correct one, adopt the Christian definition of truth and goodness as your own own, and then turn around and use it as the measuring stick to measure itself.

All you’d be discovering is that Christianity is the most Christian.

To say that Christianity is the most true and the most good, you must appeal to a standard of truth and goodness that is outside of and apart from Christianity, one that is universal among humans. And we DO have such a standard (or close to it), written into the human heart/soul/psyche/mind/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.Whether we realize it or not, the things we human beings nearly unanimously define as “good” and “right” are those that promote and protect life, health, and happiness. Regardless of whether this understanding was imprinted on us by evolution or a god, it is real, and it is the only tool we have.

And since we have this tool, it is not only permissible but IMPERATIVE that we use it. We must hold all philosophies up, side by side, and ask, without prior commitment, which is the most true? Which is the most right and good by a universal definition of right and good?

If there is a god out there who is the ultimate truth, the search for truth and goodness will inevitably lead to him.

While Christianity may be more true/right/good on a number of levels than many other philosophies, it has not turned out, in my investigation, to be the most right.

2.) CHRISTIANITY DOES NOT HAVE A CORNER ON GOODNESS.

There are loving, selfless, generous, upstanding people in every religion, and selfish, violent, abusive people in every religion. And the proportions, if considered across history, don’t show much variability when other factors (i.e. education level, access to information, economics, etc.) are taken into consideration.

At this point in my life, I have friends who are Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, Universalist and “spiritual” and I have not found any higher rates of integrity, generosity, love, or wisdom among any one group. Those friends who do exhibit higher rates of these traits tend to take their beliefs, whatever they be, more seriously. In other words, they spend more time thinking about life and how it should be lived, and they clearly come to similar conclusions, just not within the same religious framework.

If one group of people was in possession of the ultimate truth, we would be able to see a clearly defined difference in their lives, don’t you think?

3.) THE BIBLE AS THE INSPIRED WORD OF GOD SEEMS VERY, VERY UNLIKELY.

When I began reading the Bible objectively (in other words, not assuming it was ultimate truth but asking if it could be), I ran into a LOT of problems.

For one, it is not understandable by the average human being. I am decently educated, and there are many parts of it that are confusing and meaningless to me, that were clearly written to one certain group of people in one time and place. Why would God include all of that in his book of ultimate truth, addressed to all of humanity, knowing that it would cause confusion and division?

Even theologians who have dedicated their lives to studying Greek and Hebrew and understanding this book, and who are seeking God earnestly, come down on every side of every practical issue.  So, as a guide for living life, it is basically unusable.

I suspect that many human beings I know personally, even in their relatively limited, finite states, could write a better, clearer, more concise, direct, and less “abusable” explanation of God and what-it-all-means than what we have in the Bible.

In addition to its prolific incoherency, it is full of horror. While some parts of it promote love and grace and forgiveness, other parts of it have God condoning and commanding murder and rape, and glorying in the punishment and destruction of human beings (not to mention animals). Why would violence ever need to be God’s method of operation? He is God. The number of other possible solutions available to him are infinite.

Even the parts that are more focused on love and grace are laced with the idea of Hell. Jesus himself mentions Hell numerous times. There is no question in my mind that to be a Christian (i.e. follower of Christ) is to accept the idea that billions of people will be suffering pain and torment for eternity. There is just no reasonable way around it, based on what is written in the Bible (I know there are denominations of Christianity that do not believe in Hell or believe that it is only temporary, but to get there you have to do a lot of creative “interpreting”.)

And there are some major things wrong with the idea of Hell.

While I do believe there is a place for justice in a healthy world, Hell is not justice. How is it just that failing to figure out the right answer during this one brief, crazy, messed-up moment in time deserves an eternity of torture? And for God to create a feeling, thinking, sentient being in the first place, knowing he/she would end up in Hell – that would be an evil act. And God is supposed to the the antithesis of evil. He is supposed to be Good.

Or if, perhaps, God somehow did not know the future (which, really, would make him not God at all), why would he create the system he created? He could have created ANY system he chose! Why would he not just blink people out of existence rather than allowing them to suffer forever? He didn’t need them before. He doesn’t need them after. If he keeps them around to suffer as a testament to his justice and power and glory, he is not good and he is not God. He is an evil, selfish, masochistic narcissist.

And why must it be a death (the death of someone supposedly sinless, no less) that somehow puts all to rights? That is completely arbitrary and makes no logical sense. I, in my limited finite humanity, can come up with a number of other ideas/scenarios/solutions for dealing with humans and their imperfections that are far more just and loving than The Cross. If there was a god out there, he would be infinitely smarter and more loving than I.

4.) IF GOD WAS THERE AND WANTED ME TO KNOW HIM, HE WOULD TELL ME.

God could easily show up in my bedroom right now and sit down beside me and introduce himself. There is nothing stopping him from doing that for every person. If he is God he has all the time in the world and can be everywhere at once.

Christians will say it would violate my free will, but that is not true. Having all the information does not violate a person’s free will – it simply leaves her more capable of making a better decision.

And according to most Christian doctrine, that is what God wants – what he MUST want if he is good. He wants ALL of us to make the right decision. He wants all of us to know him, all of us to be saved. If God came and showed himself to me in a real, tangible way, I would still be free to choose my self over him, just as Lucifer and a third of the angels did according to scripture.

In fact, it would be unfair and unjust for a god to provide us with only very vague, conflicting, incomplete, second-hand information and then hold us accountable (with Hell as a possible consequence) for coming to the correct conclusion.

To Be Continued…

Romanticizing Reality

I am an advocate of getting-in-touch-with-reality, for sure.

It only makes sense to me that we human beings, if we are going to fix (or at least improve on) our many flaws and foibles, and figure out how to live life best, must first understand The-Way-Things-Are.

Unfortunately, we have this very strong tendency to believe what we wish to be true. And that is a problem. You’re going to have a rough time and waste a lot of energy, for example, if you believe you have the voice of an angel and should spend your time sharing your gift with the world, when in actuality you sound like Grover from Sesame Street.

If your wheels aren’t on the ground, they’re just going to spin.

So, first-things-first, we need to – both individually and collectively – get a grip.

Once we’ve done that, however, and our “wheels” are making good contact with a solid surface, we’ve got to turn around and put those rose-colored glasses right back on…at least this is what I’m thinking today, and I will explain why.

We are very tactile, short-sighted creatures, really. We are easily bogged down by the immediate, mundane details of our lives. Happy moments of the past and future are hard bring to mind when we are faced with today’s sadness or boredom or frustration. The present difficulties seem more real than anything else, and it makes us want to give up the fight.

Considering the large percentage of our lives that are consumed by these mundane details, you’d think we’d be pretty much screwed.

BUT…there is this other funny little quirk in the human psyche that is our saving grace:

We are compelled by story.

Much more so than we are by facts, statistics, dissertation or rational analysis, however true or relevant they may be. Stories move us, stay with us, and help us make meaning from our existence.

Every now and then, for me, something happens in my life that enables me to take a step back from it and see it all as part of the grand human drama…one that is headed toward some sort of resolution in which good triumphs over evil and all the pain and tedium turn out to be the stepping stones that get us there, if we use them positively.

I’ve realized this about myself repeatedly – how much more clearly I see and think, how much more graciously I act, how much more forgiving and loving I am toward others when I am looking at my life from this outside, cosmic point of view.

That is what I mean when I say “putting on rose-colored glasses” or “romanticizing reality.” Not living in denial of what is, but looking at it through a lens of hope. It’s not always an easy thing to do, but it is something we must try to do – all of us – if we are going to bring good out of the chaos.

I’ve had something pretty crazy happen to me this past week. And, yes, it has to do with love. (What else is a 29 year-old, single girl gonna talk about?)

That boy, C. (aka Mr. Love), after two years of absence, is back in my life. (Perhaps I should clarify that “in my life” includes such activities as kissing and texting me.)

This is rather mind-blowing, as I have spent so much time longing for this. And it is producing one of those moments in which I look back at my life and see all the heart-ache and questions as plot twists in my own life’s story.

Of course, if there is one thing I have come to believe over the past couple of years, it is that life is full of twists; that it is so NOT predictable; that it will take you places both painful and joyful that you never could have anticipated.

Since my wishing and wondering over whether or not I would ever see C. again has been answered, it has inevitably been replaced by the next big question…will we end up together? But that is a silly question to ask, really. Because even people who “end up together” (i.e. get married) just have to keep asking themselves bigger and bigger questions.

Will I stay with this person today? Tomorrow? Ten years from now? Will I have children with this person? Will we spend our lives pursuing the American dream? Or Chasing Adventure? Or Fighting for World Peace?

Having this one current, significant question answered in my life has made me realize that life, the future, will always be one big question mark. And if I’m going to enjoy the journey, I’m going to have to embrace that, embrace uncertainty. And be okay sitting back and watching the story unfold.

Whether C. and I fall in love and get married and have kids, or whether we date for a while, have a great time, and decide we aren’t really compatible, it will all just be part of the story – my story, his story, and the story of the universe we are both effective entities in.

But I think that, no matter what happens, I will be able to navigate it all gracefully if I sort of levitate above it all, seeing the events and circumstances that come from a universal perspective…

…believing that in the end reality – even with all its harshness – can have a happy ending, if I, if WE, believe it can and are willing to take action accordingly.