Life is so rich with meaning but we’re so busy, we rarely see it.
I’m not saying we don’t try to bring meaning to our lives and we do, but I’m tilting at the fact we live in an extrinsic world and not one where the inner life, let alone the inner journey, is valued. In fact, if we go too far in proselytising our new-found message, we get called (amongst many other things…!) New Age, a Seeker or Born Again.
Why is that?
Because we represent a threat or perhaps other people are afraid to journey within or perhaps they’re happy and see no need to change their already perfect life. Also, from a cultural perspective, at least in the West, it’s not part of the education system, less still what we’re encouraged to pursue.
Success: now that’s a very different story.
Not to make this post too self-referential but if I think back to my early childhood, I remember a period where my parents sent me to Sunday School. Neither of my parents went to Church — not that I recall — and never spoke about religion, other than to say that my brother and I were christened and that meant we were Church of England. What that meant, I never bothered to ask. In any event, I dutifully attended Sunday School. I don’t remember much. I’m not sure if that means I don’t remember because of my age and inevitable neurodegeneration or because, more than likely, there was nothing remarkable about the place. I do recall a Sunday fete where I smashed all the plates with a coconut. In the end, as is my way, I got bored and was either asked to leave or refused to go. What did I learn? Nothing. Not a damn thing. (Was I supposed to?)
To what extent that has or did colour my view of religion I’m not sure; it’s so long ago but certainly, I’ve never had a hankering to attend church other than for the silence it offers. More importantly, my parents never spoke to me about religion, or anything spiritual, less still anything remotely metaphysical. It was all very plain and ordinary, focused on school, keeping the house clean (there was a heavy emphasis on chores) and when I reached my early teens, work. Not that I’ve ever asked my parents, but I suspect this was similar to their upbringing or certainly I don’t imagine that Eastern philosophy let alone any philosophy was the order of the day.
So what? That was then. This is now.
No, it’s a good point. To my mind, given where I’ve ended up on the spiritual path, it makes not a jot of difference. But it doesn’t stop me wondering what might have happened if, at the very least, my cultural indoctrination wasn’t metastasised with a narrative that said: to be something you had to get something; namely, a decent education, ditto a job, a house and to build sufficient savings so that I could toddle off into the retirement sunset.
Again, to play Devil’s advocate, I’d say: “What’s so wrong with that?”
Everything, particularly when it denudes us of our spirit and compresses everything into a very narrow bandwidth of societal expectation.
Of course, like so many times when I start my finger-wagging excoriation, I feel that slight pull of anxiety that putting things out there which, on first blush, could be seen as baseless means, in all honesty, I should keep my opinions to myself. Then again, they’re not baseless in that I’ve met many people over the years who all appear to suffer from a heightened degree of anxiety by dint of feeling that they’re doing the wrong thing, have missed the boat on their life or are not fulfilling their God-given potential. Now of course, none of that may float your boat but you’ll be the exception not the norm if you can honestly say, hand on fluttering heart, that the workplace is the place to aspire to if you want to come alive at the deepest, truest level. Indeed, if my experience is worth a damn, work is the thing we least want to do, less still attend at a place which appears not so much to be malevolent but conspires to crush our spirit almost to the point that, if we’re not careful, we forget who we truly are.
To be clear, the reason I write this blog is not to sell you on anything. I know sometimes that my language can be a bit provocative and I’ve been told off more than once for taking my experience and generalising like hell, but I remain convinced — to my very core — that there has to be a better way.
Yes, there has to be a better way to approach life, if only to ask a more beautiful question. I put it that way because apart from the chronic absence of a different cultural narrative, what’s missing is a cohort of people who are willing to challenge the established norms by inviting others to consider what a more beautiful world might look like. And when I say world, I don’t necessarily mean a universal or planetary world, I mean our own world, be that relationships, work, money or inequality.
Think about it? Or rather think about all those change programmes or new year’s resolutions that have filled up your nights and days. Did any of them stick? They might have done but certainly in my backyard, what’s more important is to frame the problem (if indeed one exists) around a better question.
Anyhow, it’s that time again where I need to sign off and get with the programme.
Note: Now that I’ve gone back to using WordPress, you might like to leave a comment. I’m certainly up for the dialogue.