Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Late Night Thoughts
I think of all the crazy people I've known in my life, or the misled followers, or those that are credulous and quick-to-believe the outrageous. Hmmm...I guess I'm not ready to write about those people, since some of them may have been lovers, spouses, siblings, cousins. In general, though, it seems that people are becoming quicker to grasp the old beliefs that have been around since the ancient civilizations, preferring the comfort of certainty over the discomfort of these uncertain times. We still have those who consort with astrologers, even though it's based in the Ptolemaic cosmology that the Earth is the center of the universe and, hence, the heavenly bodies revolve around it. I can remember in the nineteen sixties when Time Magazine's cover asked: Is God Dead? And I can remember when people rolled their eyes if someone claimed to talk to God. Now they ask what God said. And it seems the televangelists are getting nuttier and richer and more outrageous these days. Lesbians are blamed for hurricanes, and Pat Robertson's pronouncements have to be routinely recanted. It's almost like a planned tactic. I'll say what I really believe, get the idea out there so people will believe it, and then, when I'm pushed into a corner, I'll say I misspoke. No. The plan is to make outrageous, hateful statements, let them simmer in this new believe-anything environment, and then quietly apologize—and not really mean it.
I think of myself in the mid-nineteen seventies, fresh out of the Air Force, new into marijuana, LSD, and an eager member of a cult—but not one where the leader was religion-based. No...he was teaching us to attain "cosmic" consciousness. We zipped right on past being followers of a holy man, seeking some sort of heavenly attainment, and went for the gold, expanding our own consciousness to fill the universe. I realized I was dead inside, as a result of this teaching one day in San Antonio, Texas, when I was walking home and it was raining gently, and I no longer felt a visceral pleasure in the rain on my skin or felt the sweetness of such a day. I felt nothing, and when I got home and looked in the mirror, my eyes looked glazed over. I was no nearer to attaining cosmic consciousness than I was expanding out of my body and attaining information from "all that is" around me.
It took me over a year to think myself out of this belief system. I went back to college, and one day, when I was going through the student union building on my way to class, a shaved-headed guy in an orange robe approached and asked if I wanted to attain the peace that surpassed all understanding. I looked at him, saw his own glazed eyes, looked at my watch, and back at him.
"Not right now," I said, "I've got a French class." I'm sure he thought that I was the one who was missing out on a universal truth, a comforting certainty, and that I was lost in the illusion, that "reality" was far different than what I thought it was. That may be true. I don't know. I find the comfort in knowing that I don't have all the answers about everything and never will. I take comfort in my curiosity and my doubt and I'm not ready to give up the journey to who knows where for the stasis of certainty.