Perhaps I should begin this post with a pre-emptive apology to some of you Readers. It seems some of you are of the opinion that Positive Thinking is the key to life and happiness, and have blogs dedicated to that idea. Don’t get me wrong, I, on occasion, enjoy thinking positively as much as the next person. At times, I have even adhered to that selfsame philosophy of, ‘Just think positive, and everything will turn out fine.’ or something equally out of the Optimist’s Club handbook. But. From my peculiar point of view, I cannot fully embrace Positive Thinking as the Answer to Life’s Persistent Questions. Life has shown me that it is too simplistic a theory to hold the waters of life’s sometimes extraordinarily turbulent storms and strifes.
Since beginning this blog, I have been meeting bloggers of all philosophical descriptions, and it is fascinating to see who shows up with a Like or comment, depending on what topic I write about. Of course, WordPress’s blog universe is simply a reflection of our world, full of every description of human being. By now you may be able to see that in a very real way, I share the title of the blogger whose title is ”I am not defined.” For those of us who have more questions than answers, it is difficult to define oneself, one’s beliefs, one’s firm standpoint. Twenty years ago and more, I was full of self-definition and had opinions on most everything and everyone. I look back at my youthful self now and have to just laugh at my self-righteousness and snobbery. The older I become, the less I am sure of and the fewer strong opinions I hold. I take that as something positive, though.
Perhaps what I am really facing these days is a crisis of faith. I read a few blogs here which deal with this topic. The people who write them seem so very sure of their faith, whether in God, Jesus, Angels, Divine spirits, or in their own ability to be positive no matter what. I have to say I admire their surety, their rock-solid beliefs which can explain away just about every question and situation which might show up in their lives. No matter what they are facing, they have a ready answer for it all, through that magical concept, Faith. How fortunate to have that to fall back on!
There is a book which helped me many years ago titled, The Art of Resilience, by Carol Orsborn. I would like to share some of her thoughts about this matter, in an effort to help myself, but also those of you who may also share some of my questions about Faith and Life. She writes,
Do I really believe that there exists for me and the universe a loving presence– or not?
To reply in the negative would fully justify my sinking deeper into despair. If this is a dog-eat-dog world, I should, indeed, be watching out primarily for my own welfare. It was toward this possibility that all rational evidence pointed. I could easily answer ‘no, I do not believe the universe is loving.’
On the other hand, I’ve learned from experience that whatever it might cost me, the only way up and out of this abyss would be to somehow find a ‘yes.’ Feeling the darkness closing in on me, I set my thoughts and even feelings aside and leaped for a ‘yes’ as if it were a rope thrown to me from the depths of the mystery.
Then she quotes William James,
Believe, and you shall be right, for you shall save yourself; Doubt, and you shall be right, for you shall perish. The only difference is that to believe is greatly to your advantage.
These words contain wisdom. In the end, it is impossible to say absolutely that one way is Right and another is Wrong. This kind of thinking underlies most of humanity’s gravest troubles. But, to believe, or place your faith in, something greater and vastly superior than yourself, and then to live life from that standpoint, seems to be a wise thing to do no matter what. This is not the same as ‘just think positive’ which I simply cannot stomach as a lifestyle choice. But, to place my trust in something greater, ”to transcend my self-interest in order to take the risk of believing that it is worthwhile to love others, to sacrifice for others, even knowing that in doing so, one becomes vulnerable, exposes oneself to pain and the potential for disappointment,” makes sense to me. Transcending self-interest seems to be my Big Work right now. I’ll let you know how it goes. As always, thanks for reading.