On a Winter Night Years Ago

Greetings lovable readers, and welcome back for another helping of my thoughts. Today I would like to share about an aspect of my life that is important to me, an aspect that I don’t often share with other people. I recently posted a comment on another blog (Dark Circles etc) about a nostalgic reaction to a song. The song reminded me about a winter night a long time ago, when I gained a better understanding of the energies that surround is, infuse us, and connect us to everyone and everything in the world.

I am a Pagan. At least, that’s the closest term for a spiritual belief with which I identify. It should be noted that I also use the term “Pagan” as a blanket term so that I don’t identify myself too tightly with any one brand of Paganism because I am still searching for a clearer direction in my spiritual journey. No, I am not a witch. No, I do not worship satan. No, I do not engage in ritual sacrifices, either animal or human. There are many ways in which people, now known as Neo-Pagans, practice their spirituality, but a common belief is centered around nature. They, and I, believe divinity can be found in nature and the natural order of the world.

The night in question is the night that I came to look at my previously held spiritual beliefs. I was with a friend who could already be described Pagan, and we were at Starbucks discussing nature, energy and how energy affects the world around us. More specifically, we were discussing how energy could be directed to affect a desired change in the world around us. It was cold out, we were drinking coffee – go figure – and as I contemplated what she was saying, the more sense it made and the cold seemed to be less cold, somehow.

Energy is everywhere and in everything. Matter, as we see it with our eyes, is merely a very wide variety of energetic configurations of the minute amounts of actual matter of which the universe is composed. Our personalities, the behavioral traits that make is who we are, are the result of our unique synaptic pathways. Energy in the form of electricity. There has even been shown to be an electrical field around our bodies.

Many people in the Pagan communities use ritual magick to effect the world around them, using ceremonial artifacts and incantations to focus their desires/energy to be sent out into the universe. There are also particular times of the year when the communities celebrate the changing of the seasons, those who have come before, and give thanks for what has been given. These times are known as sabbats.

I suppose I am not all that different. While, I don’t worship the pantheon of Pagan deities throughout the year, I do pray to the Mother Goddess and Father God. I don’t have intricate rituals, but I do have a simple ritual of meditation and visualization to focus my energy. As for nature, I have always felt more at peace while in nature. Nature goes on as nature does, has always done, regardless of human interference. I find that particularly comforting.

It’s been a while since I’ve been out in nature, truly out in the wilderness, and I miss it. But it’s not that bad. I live in a house in a neighborhood surrounded by trees of all sorts, we have a family of squirrels in our backyard, and all sorts of birds (including woodpeckers, blue jays, owls, and small clouds of little tiny hyperactive birds I can’t identify). Time has passed. Priorities have changed. I’ve got a family and all the activities that surround daddyhood. Although I haven’t been out in the forest for a while, I am comforted that I have nature here with me, in the kids and my family, as we all grow.

That night at Starbucks, I didn’t find an absolute answer about the functioning of the universe. I’m willing to admit that I am wrong about it all if that’s where life goes. What I did find was a way of looking around me and relating to the world in a way that is comfortable to me. It encourages me to learn, it is a moral compass, it helps me embrace change, and it just felt right. No matter what life hands me, I know I will be okay, that I can be a loving individual, and that nature will be there to welcome me home when the time comes.

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Scrabble in the Cold and the Meaning of Life

I love scrabble, you should know that. I’m not world class great or anything, but it is my favorite game, hands down. Some of my best conversations and cups of coffee were enjoyed amidst games of scrabble in the cold with my friend Marnie. I met her on her first day of work at my favorite Starbucks back in Palm Desert and immediately I knew we would be friends. It wasn’t long after that day that we were playing our first game of scrabble and discussing a thought that has gotten me through a lot of difficult times. The Meaning of Life (cue suitably dramatic music).

People spend so much time contemplating, philosophizing, and pontificating about the meaning of life that it’s hard to know which brand to buy. A lot of it requires a number of college courses to understand, but even then, one is frequently left with more questions than answers. Sometimes it seems that the study of philosophy has been made intentionally difficult to understand so that philosophers and philosophy teachers are kept relevant and necessary because they are the only ones who understand what the hell is going on (much could be said for politicians, too, I suppose).

Why is philosophy so complicated? If you are expecting an answer from me on that, then settle in and prepare for a disappointment. Sorry. However, perhaps I can make it up to you by proposing another answer to an even more difficult question, a simple answer, even. A simple answer to the question: What is the Meaning of Life?

During my first game of scrabble with my new friend, it came into my head to discuss the meaning of life. Why? I don’t know. I had never discussed it before, nor even considered it for any length of time. I blame the scrabble, really, it gets my mental juices pumping, and cool things happen because of it, sometimes. (That’s crap, I know, but it’s the best I’ve got) So, having started this lofty line of discussion, I had to come up with something, and quickly. Didn’t want to come off as a dope by saying something stupid like mongooses or the music of Abba (42 would be a great answer, but only for laughs and only in certain circles). I thought about it for a moment and then, I held forth, extemporaneously about a topic that I had never held forth about before.

Looking back, I am suitably impressed, with the simplicity of my answer and the amount of sense it makes to me. The best part of all is that it is accessible to anyone who can think clearly for about 10 minutes or so, depending on the time of day.

Change. In my opinion, the meaning of life is change.

I told you it was simple. And why shouldn’t an answer as simple as this be right? Everybody’s lives are a function of change, whether they are religious, atheist, agnostic, etc. We are born, we age, and we die; these all examples of changes in life, that’s the obvious angle to take, sure, but it’s what we do between birth and death that I’m talking about, more specifically the things that are important to us.

As a baby, love, warmth, food, a clean diaper are where it’s at for us. As kids, it’s candy, playing, our parents attention, and anything that makes us feel grown up. As teens, it’s stretching our legs and testing boundaries in an attempt to find out who we are. You get where I’m going with this, yes? Life marches on, whether we like it or not, and with it our biological clocks and what moves us to action (or what tempers our tempers). Our needs change, our tastes change, our fashion changes (not as critical, though the media would tell you otherwise), our understanding of constants in our life changes (religion and science, for example). Change comes for all of us, no matter what we do. We can either be ready to embrace and use change the best we can or we can fight it and become embittered, out of touch versions of ourselves.

Life is hard and complicated enough, people. Why complicate this, too? The meaning of life is accepting the inevitable changes we will face in life (that’s just an opinion, of course), however you feel called to relate to life. Whether you are religious or atheist, your understanding of those respective lifestyles will change over time. If you are a nihilist, well, time still passes…so, there’s that, but you don’t care anyways. Moving on.

I guess what this all means is that there is no ONE meaning to life. How could there be? When all lives are different, how could the meaning for all of them be the same? Perhaps when I die, I will find out that I’m dead wrong (see what I did there?), that there was a different meaning that I missed altogether. But the way I look at it, taking this stance leaves room for learning and admitting when I’m wrong. That’s a change, right? It has also freed up the energy I used to expend trying to keep things the way they are in favor of enjoying what is in front of me and figuring out how I can ride the “change wave” to be a version of myself that is in touch and loving.

Anyhow, it’s late, and I’m rambling. So, the last thing I will say is this: change is good, you might not always know how at first, but if you let fear get in the way, you will never know.

[if you have a smart phone and you want to discuss or simply play a game of scrabble (words with friends), my user name is bohemiamdan81]