A Sense of Purpose Helps the Medicine Go Down

We have more lessons to learn. It is a good day.

Today: Love, and

PURPOSE.

In July of last year, I was in Venice. Let me tell you about Venice. It is the most beautiful place you will ever go. Like, I was breathless walking down those streets, there was nothing like it, something inside of me knew it and felt right at home. But I was mad at myself, to tell you the truth. Because Venice had been calling me for an ass-long time, and I had been daydreaming about it for many years, and then I stupidly listened to what a couple other people said about it not being very special to them when they had visited Italy, and I planned it for my last day, and therefore did not have as much time there as I wanted to. And I was kicking myself, as usual, for listening to other people, and not to the stirrings of my heart, which had been saying Venice, Venice, Venice for years. I prayed hard about it while I was there, and all was well, and I have no regrets now, but damn, spending more time in Venice is always welcome because I never saw that kind of beauty. And I’ve seen a lot of beauty!

My first night, I sat at a cafe near the canal and ate some bread and then the waiter led two men next to me at a neighboring table. They were talking about religion, or something, and the talk was very interesting, and I was in such close proximity to them that I had to start a conversation because this is what I do and this is the meaning of life, you see, to connect with people you barely know and to begin to know. The two men were pilots. They’d traveled all around the world, and they were on a break that night, and then they’d have to get in the plane and fly again in the morning, but for now, they were eating some pasta.

We talked about love, about God, about upbringing. The older man was Jewish and had been divorced several times. Once, he said, he worked in India, and people were terribly poor, and he didn’t know what to do about it. He wanted to help, but he didn’t know where to begin, so he helped one particular family and did the most that he could do. He was now married to a younger woman. He was kind of happy. Kind of.

The younger man was married, too, and he had grown up Christian in, Texas, was it? Anyway, he had dogs, and a wife at home, and he missed her, and despite his adventures traveling around the globe, he just loved being home, and wished he could be there more.

So I asked why he couldn’t be. And you know, it was about work, it was about making money, it was about not being sure what was next and what to do and perhaps not having any models or guides who did anything differently than what he was already doing, and so how do you know how to proceed in life, when you go off course, when you start digging up a new path no one has been on?

Meanwhile, I was steeped in the marvelous effect of leaving a job that was killing me a few months before, and at the time I felt like I had stepped off a cliff, but now, here I was, in fucking Venice, and I was wildly alive, and so I had a whole new perspective about things. I was actually happy. And I only saw happiness ahead of me, instead of destruction and despair, which is what I’d previously been saturated with. And so I asked the men about happiness, about what they saw as happiness, about whether they thought it was possible, about whether happiness is something you could experience every day.

There was a lot of squinting, in reaction, a lot of shaking their heads. The goal of life, they said, was not to be happy. The older man said that sometimes he was happy. Sometimes he had that feeling come over him. But not often. And the younger one was worried about getting divorced, because he kept seeing people all around him get divorced, and he needed a strong role model (though he didn’t say this out loud, I just surmised), and he was really kind and generous and special, and he started to say something that he only acknowledged was problematic when it came out of his mouth. “The goal of life isn’t to be happy, it’s to make a lot of money and then sit on a beach one day….”

I’m paraphrasing.

This statement made him question himself.

Because honey, life is not some end-game situation. Life is not “work hard now, see results later.” I mean, that’s true, and it happens. But the system of sweat and reward got developed somehow, somewhere—maybe ancient Greece? I don’t know—and it is kind of how our whole society is founded, and what we all believe, but it’s really fucking bogus. It’s super hard to fight, but it’s bogus.

Life is about seasons, yes. Life is about ripening. Life is about fading and renewing again, dying and rising, flow. But sweetie, I mean, I gotta tell you, because you want to pretend this fact doesn’t exist and it’s really wrong to forget, that you can die today. I’m not being morbid, I’m just like, telling it like it is. No day is guaranteed. And I don’t want you to just experience this sentence conceptually. I want you to take a minute right now and sit back and close your eyes and breathe, and consider in your body the fact, the statement, the soul-shattering truth, I can die today.

You don’t have to envision how it might actually happen, but you can, if that helps.

Go on, do what I said. Take a few minutes. I’ll wait.

 

 

Now, how does that feel? What kind of questions did it bring up? What kind of confusion are you dealing with? Are you resistant to this truth? Are you mad at me? Have you stopped reading? Are you shaking your head?

My point is, life is life, and we have little control over it, other than what we say and do and how we allow ourselves to think, and all the spiritual teachers in the whole fucking world will tell you that you need to be in the present, in the now, and that’s really all you have, that’s all there is, and if you keep waiting for some later date to make something happen, dude, you’re screwed. You’re just all backwards inside. Stop daydreaming, stop planning and scheming, wake the fuck up.

That’s all I’m trying to say.

And you can live for many, many, more years, and your life is and will be completely and totally vibrant, and you should only do things when you’re ready, too.

Oh, isn’t it all so grand?

And so, love. 

It is all there is.

It is the purpose of everything. I’m not talking about sex-love, which is the only kind we think of when we see “love,” because we’re all so romantic and all, and repressed, too. I’m just talking about love, and loving everybody you come in contact with, and being a vessel of love, and dripping with it, and having it ooze out of your pores. I’m talking about acknowledging that it is the current that runs through all things, that it is a recurring call to conscience, to action.

Love is speaking truth, and sharing your heart.

Love is honoring your soul’s purpose, whatever that is.

Love is figuring out what that purpose is, so you can be happy. (Cause you are meant to be!)

Love is generosity, and giving of your time or other resources, and being there for people when they need you. And how do you know what people are meant to be there for you, and the people you are meant to love? They’re the ones who show up. It’s that simple.

There is so much more to say. I could write many, many pages. I am long-winded, you see. But I want you to understand the intersection of love and purpose. When purpose is clear, love comes easy. When love is present, purpose emerges. The two are vitally, beautifully, inextricably intertwined.

Read a book, now, or go to Venice.

God or Money?

I have no interest today talking to people who have all their shit figured out. The people whose lives are together and orderly, for whom everything is perfect and squeaky clean. The people who have an organized silverware drawer and a steady job with 401K benefits and have quiet, perfunctory sex before sleeping next to a stack of barely cracked books. Those people can go read some other blog. Those people can sip their tea and read the newspaper and drive their clean cars to work while NPR babbles in the background.

I’m talking to you, the person who is a fucking mess. God, I love you. The woman who is barely holding it together each morning as she gets her kids out the door for school. The man who is so desperate and hungry for love and affection, he’s thinking of cheating on his wife. The teenager who has so many emotions, she doesn’t know whether to cry or poop.

Those are the people I’m after. Those are the people I want to bring into the fold.

Yesterday, I was in a bookstore, and I went into the Christian aisle, which I never ever go in, and I looked at the titles because I want a new book by Cynthia Bourgeault but she’s too brilliant to be in the Barnes & Noble Christian aisle. And there are all these titles with these straight-teethed white people with coiffed hair telling you about Jesus. Jesus saves and Jesus loves and Come to Jesus and all that. And it made me feel really ick. Like really, really ick. Because Jesus is fucking black. And Jesus is fucking Hispanic. And Jesus is fucking on the street corner with his hand out, begging for food.

And Jesus is in your heart and your soul and will always answer every single question you have, and will always measure up, and will always deliver you, and these ugly books don’t show you that.

So why the fuck would someone like me, who is infinitely cool, start talking to people about Jesus. Dear God. It is so embarrassing, sometimes. It is so awkward to say his name and be grouped with other people who say his name, people who I wonder if I have anything in common with. People who are more interested in belonging to a tribe than they are in seeking out the truth, in having their lives constantly break apart and be formed anew again. People who smile wide and pretend everything is great! It’s super! and really they’re fucking dying inside and riddled with doubt and doing all kinds of weird things in all kinds of dark corners.

(If you’re doing weird things in dark corners, I still love you, as long as you’re not molesting kids. Or adults. Or anybody. Knock that shit off, motherfucker.)

So how do you know truth, and how do you know what’s real, when people who say they know the truth and they know what’s real feel like liars, feel false, feel unauthentic? That’s fucking tough. That’s one of the biggest questions of life. And I don’t have an easy answer for you. I just know I’ve always wanted the truth, and it’s been my destiny and my soul’s deepest desire, and I’ve been digging for a lifetime, never giving up until I found it, and I did. And I found it in SexyJesus, who has no issues with things like sex and cunnilingus. He’s totally fine with that, by the way. That was a huge relief.

So what I can tell you about finding truth is that it is a lot of inner work. You do not find truth by being lazy, or by handing the reigns over to someone else. Nope. NoSiree. It would be nice if we could think that, wouldn’t it? Just hand your life over to someone else to figure it all out? But that would make you a weakling, a pussy, so don’t do that. (Although pussies are pretty nice! I have one! She’s awesome!)

You gotta get inside, baby. You gotta keep asking the questions and searching and rolling stuff around in your hands and in your mind and especially, most especially, in your heart. And then you’ll have a breakthrough, and then you’ll ask more questions. And anytime you think you have it all figured out, that’s when you know a fall is coming. Because God is all about making you fall, over and over again. Falling is heaven. Falling is when you don’t know where to put your feet. Falling is weightless, it is surrender, it is when you know you are not in control, and that knowledge, honey, is the greatest place you can be, even when it feels like hell.

(I hear my grandmother is reading my blog now. I wonder how she feels about all this pussy talk! Just an aside.)

What I will tell you, is that there is nowhere you can go that God cannot go also. There is no place you will go that God is not there. God will rise up to meet you in every single instance, in every single moment you ask. But you have to ask, baby. You can’t just do this shit alone. Oh my God, it so sucks to do it alone, and when you think you can do it all alone, that’s when the devil gets in, which is your ego, which is the dark corners of your mind. Thomas Merton said, “No man is an island,” and that’s frickin’ true. And I don’t know if Thomas Merton ever had sex. That’s not important right now. What is important is to know that God works everywhere, and works through other people, almost always, so if you’re looking for some sort of God-flower to rain down from the sky, you’re not going to find it, or if that’s what you’re looking for, you wouldn’t notice it when it arrived because you live your life fucking asleep.

God is everywhere, in every leaf on a tree, in every squirrel running after a nut, in every sip of your coffee. It’s just that often we’re sleeping, so we don’t know these things. We’re operating under a haze. We’re robots. And the Great HeShe is knocking on your door, like Hello! Hey, look at me! Isn’t this cool? Isn’t this beautiful? And you’re like, let me look at this screen because the world is now delivered through a little rectangular screen.

What I want to tell you is that faith never disappoints. Ever, ever, ever. People do, honey. People disappoint sometimes. No one’s perfect. And maybe the people who fall away or disappoint you were meant to help you grow, to help you get stronger, to help you discern what really matters in life and where you should be looking, what you should be going after. It’s just that we’re friggin’ emotional, so it’s hard to understand that at the time.

It is such a glorious thing to be alive. It is such an amazing opportunity to live beyond your narrow mind, your narrow conceptions, and get into your heart, and really see, and really live, and really be alive, and welcome every opportunity as something that is meant for you, without worry or doubt or blame or fear, but with faith and trust, and the absence of obsessing over money.

Because fuck, we are all so obsessed and crazy when it comes to money. And yet so much of scripture keeps warning us about that, keeps telling us not to make money a God.

God is God. Money is money. I often wonder why God made money exist because it gets us so confused about our priorities, about what matters in this life. We hoard money when we should be sharing it. And if we were truly a Christian country, we’d be spreading that money around, spreading the wealth, recognizing that what we make or earn is not ours, but is for everybody, is an exchange of energy, is a way of healing the world.

So let go of money. Let it fall. Let it float through the air like rain. Just simply let it go. Stop thinking about it. Stop trying to acquire it, or save it, or figure it out. Just let what comes come. And what goes, go.

Then you’ll be happy.

 

Photo by Cole Keister on Unsplash