I’ve moved away from self-help-yoga catch phrases like “my life is blessed”, “the universe is teaching me something”, “my journey”, et cetera. It’s privileged language. Although I often feel there is a force of love and connection, there is painfully no way of knowing. And to believe that strings are being pulled for me and not for those suffering destitute poverty, not for those who live in racist societies, not for those children dying of disease, not for those who experience violence, not for those who grow up in war-torn countries, and so on, is a bit of arrogance. People and animals suffer on this planet –and I do not believe it’s part of their “journey”. The majority do not have the privilege that Westerners have. We are a culture consumed with self and this point of view is why the planet is suffering and why people are suffering –and then we go on to embrace language to validate our small life with little context of the scale of history.
My generation is benefitting from millions of years of evolution, imperialism, and capitalism. We have everything at our fingertips not because the universe made it so but because people worked hard before us, people who had little understanding of travel, self-care, and good health. I can’t imagine my grandmother in the cotton fields starving during the depression thinking here’s my spiritual journey #blessed.
Like her, many of their journeys were created by men and their power struggles, not from the hands of angels. I am so grateful for my life. But my blessings came from GOOD decision making and my failures came from BAD decision making. My blessings came from my parents and grandparents who worked really hard. My blessings also came from the advantage of being born American (and unfortunately that ALL comes from a long history of subjugating people and the environment –and a long history of Americans behaving with entitlement). My blessings came from genetic advantages. My blessings came from privilege. And all of this makes me very humble.
When the western world uses this “journey” point of view, it negates the experience of millions because it implies that our life experiences are intended, and I would hate to explain that to a Syrian refugee, or a woman experiencing unimaginable violence. So many lives are filled with struggle, and we remove them from our logic or consideration when trying to attach meaning to our existence. I understand why we do it and why I HAVE done it. We want meaning. We want to know that we aren’t just evolved from apes over millions of years and then pass on. What a painful thing to have to face in our day to day. We want connection and we want there to be a God, and we Westerners have a lot of time to indulge in that need.
So what’s the balance while residing in the mystery of not knowing? Perhaps gratitude and empathy for those around the world who don’t benefit from American policies. It might be humility about our privilege, and a keen sense of awareness of how special and mysterious it is to be alive and not needing an audience to tout our good fortune and opportunities with a filtered selfie and cliched text about how blessed we are. It is learning to not add more value or significance to our life than a man’s life in the Congo or a 14th century peasant. It is humility in the face of such a great unknowing –looking at the stars and connecting in such a lonely way with whatever force created all this and the knowledge it will be gone from us and so short-lived. What a beautiful unknowing. And in that moment of quiet acceptance, the truest spirituality emerges.
It is arrogance, ignorance, and privilege to rewrite something that’s happened to you as the doings of the universe. We are sadly subject to the whims of chaos. And this is the only theory that allows for me to process children with leukemia, my healthy mom dying at 62, or an earthquake taking out a quiet village, and the many other atrocities that happen across the world.
There is in fact no reason for the innocent suffering we see, other than human deficiency. No universe that brought suffering into their lives so they could learn something. And therefore NO reason for your accidental good fortune and your self-created narrative. And I catch myself too. It’s because we want a parental governing agency taking care of us. But there isn't. And this is why BAD things happen to very GOOD people.
IT IS CHAOS. SO BE KIND. IT IS CHAOS. SO BE KIND.