My goal with all my blogs is the same. I want to help as many people as I can through sharing my story and to inspire those to improve their lives and the lives of others. I do find it perplexing though when I tell my story that there is often an assumed belief that I am getting help in dealing with my pain and suffering from an otherworldly presence or being. As if there is no other way to deal with personal trauma and inner “demons?” I usually avoid discussing my thoughts in this area unless I am in a safe space with my trusted inner circle of close friends. It is only then I can actually open up and we can have some very exhilarating discussions on celestial beliefs and possibilities. Unfortunately, It seems to me that there are certain topics to avoid if you wish to “placate your audience.” Nonetheless, I am undeterred.
I am not aiming to convert or influence anyone on any particular ideology or belief system, or lack thereof. I am proposing questions to you that I ask myself frequently as I continue my discovery of self and beyond. I don’t have all the answers, yet I invite you to join me as I attempt to navigate through the intense agony of losing a child to addiction, among other difficult and challenging life events. For me, it’s imperative I continue learning with inquiry and an open mind.
Prior to my descent into this complicated and very personal issue, I wish to profess a desire to limit my comments, in too much depth, in regards to IF there is a God or Gods. Nor is this an exercise in me putting forth any religious beliefs. I see little benefit or enjoyment in spending too much time in an area where:
No one is changing their minds
Everyone thinks they are right
No one really knows
However, I do feel the need to examine the way we look at death and dying, particularly in how this view assists us in dealing with grief. In doing so, I discovered there exists a potential tradeoff with how we are progressing as a society as a whole.
As I propose in my new book, “This One’s For You;”
“I firmly assert and submit to you that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to advance as a society when we have competing groups holding non-negotiable beliefs that are mutually exclusive. It’s a witch's cauldron of malevolence, disdain, contempt, spite, malice, and doubt.”
My journey has taken me to all ends of the philosophical realm of spirituality. As I struggled with dealing with death, my alcoholism (yeah I know, I used a label), and my compulsive gambling issues in my past, I wanted to remain very open-minded in finding ways to cope. I have decided I am comfortable, for now, with not knowing what happens when I die. I know for most of us this is a hard pill to swallow. However, my willingness to accept not knowing certainly doesn’t equate to a desire to stop searching, that I will never do.
Is there an afterlife? If so, does it require or demand a belief in a God? Could there be an afterlife without a God? Or even many Gods without an afterlife? Our inability to grasp the finality in which death has offered us has spawned a desire for immortality, a yearning for the gift of eternity it seems. I often wonder if living in eternity would be a gift or a curse? I guess it depends on what “state of mind” or consciousness you would exist in eternity? Consider at the end of your life you develop dementia or Alzheimer's and then die, a shell of your former self. Would this then be the “state of mind” in which you would, unfortunately, travel through eternity or would you magically be “reinstated” with your younger mind, full of awareness and knowledge? I honestly don’t know, yet I clearly see the benefit of assuming the more pleasurable scenario.
Heaven and Hell. If there is a supreme ruler and this celestial being has the power to impose reward and punishment how are you so sure your earthly actions aren't simply born out of fear and greed? As Albert Einstein so eloquently stated, "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." I would propose, if true, this is a colossal waste of a tremendous opportunity this otherworldly being would have had, of which I deem it very unfortunate. I would hope we are inclined to do good just because it’s the right thing to do and we shouldn’t need to inject anything else into the equation. It would seem this view, unfortunately, isn’t imaginative enough for the masses and is a rather boring and deficient approach. Is being positive and doing good really that difficult to achieve without help from above?
So, apparently what’s really important is the utility of a belief in something and the good that comes from “faith.” Do you have to believe in an afterlife, deities, and heaven to live an inspired life or to do good? Of course not. I see no reason that a believer or non-believer should be any less able to live an existence in complete awe, fascination, and appreciation of nature, life and what we don’t understand. It’s no different in that it shouldn’t matter if you are black, white, straight or gay. “What” you are in the eyes of society is no indication of “who” you are inside. We waste an inordinate amount of time with labels. Democrat, alcoholic, sober, theist, atheist, ADD (attention deficit disorder), addict, activist or conservative, I could go on and on and on. Actions speak louder than labels. We spend far too much time on what people believe and not enough time on how they behave. I know plenty of jerks on both sides of all the fences.
“We are sharp enough to question a magician or illusionist but there are beliefs we are not encouraged to question and these are often beliefs upon which we are required to make very important life decisions. These are the main areas we should be testing!”
-English mentalist Darren Brown
I admit to being a compulsive reader and listener to podcasts. Anything I could get my hands on or tune my ears to would be a way for me to learn to cope with the trauma I had endured. After Seth passed away, I was compelled to try to understand why a seemingly “perfect kid” at the age of 15 started to make a series of very poor decisions, culminating with his death on 10/4/16. I discovered the majority of helpful books, blogs, and “motivational” presentations seemed to be from a more non secular approach. From a business perspective, this makes sense to me. Less confrontational and appeals to the majority of people seeking help and guidance. It just left far more questions than answers for me.
Superheros. Many of us have a desire or fascination with an external or intelligent being “overseeing” and “intervening” when necessary, sort of a big brother, a savior of mankind. For centuries we have created legends with mythical powers and unshakable convictions, superior beings who seem to exist simply to do the right thing, centered selfishly on, of course, humans. It should come as no surprise that the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (The Presbyterian Outlook 9/24/19).
Our fascination with “hero’s from above” has and will always entertain us. Honestly, I see no issue with this. For me, it just helps explain the “why” in the belief of a superhero. I just question if we need only to look elsewhere to find a superhero when all you really need to do is look within. Next time you are presented with an opportunity to become depressed, overly anxious, or feel the pull of alcohol or addictions look inwards, look often and look long, FIND YOUR INNER SUPERHERO.