"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." ~ Henry David Thoreau
When I was a young child, this book tended to be laying around the house. A popular bestseller by a psychiatrist in the early 70's, I remember staring at the cover several times, pondering the title, my young mind not able to get a handle on it, yet wondering what it meant.
The title came to mind this morning as I was reflecting on what we often tell each other in this very loose spiritual community where I tend to hang out. "I'm OK, You're OK." Repeat after me. It begins to feel familiar.
Here we go again. I felt much the same way hanging around Fundamentalists, where the mantra was actually "I'm Not OK, You're Not OK" (well, that is, until you obtain the secret formula to flip the magic switch to "OK"). Hmmmm, then again, they aren't only ones who claim to have a switch.
We feel there must be a rule, some kind of rule, there just HAS to be a rule, like a rigid "Law of Attraction" (explained and understood in a myriad of disparate ways) - because if there isn't some magic formula, some magic switch to "OK", then that's really very terrifying, isn't it, almost as terrifying (though really not nearly) as Fundamentalist heaven and hell.
During my forum days, one of my most popular (and controversial) posts was essentially based on the question "How can you be happy in heaven while others are suffering in hell?" It was directed towards evangelicals because it was my contention that there was no way anyone could truly be happy in heaven, not if they loved anyone in hell. I rephrased it much more strongly the first time I posted it: "If hell exists, everyone is going there," triggering quite the evangelical firestorm in response. I'm wasn't afraid of a firestorm, not if I spoke my truth.
I have observed an unhealthy trend in some circles I travel. People are far too often feeling restrained from saying when things are not going so OK. Because if you say it too strongly, that might make it worse, your words and thoughts betraying you in the process.
Or in the worst of mental mind traps, maybe if you DO say you aren't fully experiencing "OK" at the moment, people will determine you are not walking the walk in some way, not thinking the right thoughts, as you supposedly are required to be OK if you are following the rules. And before we know it, as much as we might resist, we are quietly judging others and ourselves, litmus tests in hand, just like the Fundamentalists, with ideals impossibly out of reach. The thought police on overdrive, that's basically what happens. So let's all watch our language, get out the brooms and the rugs, sweep in unison together, repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat again...and just say we're ALL OK.
And sadly, any chance of actually being real with one another (or with ourselves) is swept away in the process. To be human is to experience both OK and Not OK and everything in between. That's why we are here.
In my mental house, I'm putting away the rugs and the brooms. I invite you to do the same, if you dare, or at least attempt to leave them at the door if you come to visit.
Do I believe in co-creation? Actually, yes, as it makes sense if we are aspects of an omnipresent God. Does it always make sense? Is there some magic switch? If I say "I do believe, I do believe, I do believe" enough, will fairies magically appear? Perhaps. Sometimes. I'm really not sure when.
Do I believe dwelling on the negative can do us harm? Of course it can, if it becomes an obsession, but masking what we feel can harm us just as much.
If I can't say if things are going not so OK to a dear friend, if all that comes out next on both our parts are the brooms, the rugs and the mantras, then something is very NOT OK with that. And I'm left to walk the path alone, the page my only friend.
Most of all, I believe in Unconditional Love, which generally transcends all the "rules". Aspects of God, I sense we willingly come here to create certain lessons for ourselves, that's the closest I can come, because every time I have a challenge (like this time now), I come away with a lesson, forever changed - the more powerful the challenge, the more powerful the lesson. And especially the compassion and empathy for others (and for myself too).
Might I ask a favor? (And by the way, I'm listening to my own advice too...) The next time a friend tries to tell you things really aren't so OK, allow that person to BE REAL (and if you are the person doing the telling, if in a space of trust, allow YOURSELF to be real and say what is upon your heart). Listen, dear friends. Reflect. Empathize. And of course, offer encouragement and advice if you can. See both the "OK" and "Not OK" (and everything in between) - and within yourself too while you're at it. Share yourself openly in response if you dare. And maybe, just maybe, you will both manage to be real, a gift well beyond the words.
Compassion. Empathy. Love. Yes, it has much to do with that. Those are the words I choose to focus upon as I begin a New Day.