God's got you on hold, what do you do next?

Joe Luca

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When times are trying, and you’re on your last nerve. When your checkbook is coughing and wheezing from exhaustion and the Ad for bunging jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge is beginning to look appealing if it gets you out of the house – why turn to God? What is that going to do?

This is not a religious exercise. I am not challenging your beliefs or questioning what faith you look toward when things are down.

I am asking – why the concept of a God? Why look toward a divine entity, sight unquestionably unseen for most of us, and expect it to supply whatever it is you feel you’re personally lacking?

Why do we so often rely on others to provide us with the answers or at least the assurance that life will improve?

It is pretty obvious that I have had way too much time to think about such things over the past 8 months. Some of them I have thought about more than once or simply laughed at and felt were ridiculous, but now … now, not so much.

LIFE AS A BLANK CANVASS

How do you view life?

As something you add to every day; a little color here and little texture there, so it brings to mind happier times? Or is it a canvass that somehow gets filled in a little more each day and when you look at it in the morning – when you stand there viewing it for the first time, coffee cup in hand, you get to see what’s in store for you.

I’ve worried myself ragged over this concept for the last 50+ years. If I lead a life where I accept what’s there each morning when I wake up and try not to make too big a fuss, if it doesn’t seem fair or right – do I then have a right to complain?

If I’m not on the front line, hammer and trowel in hand, building the life I want – is there something wrong with me?

DRIFTING THROUGH LIFE

I am a drifter, I admit it. But as a result, I have become an accomplished short-order cook, doer of things on the fly, excellent fixer of people (including myself) and a whiz at coming up with solutions to problems that would make most people weep. But I don’t actively plan the life that I sometimes kvetch about.

And most of the time, I don’t see a problem in this.

Do you?

As a child growing up, I was frequently on my own. They called me a “latch-key kid” back then, meaning I let myself into my own home after school, because my parents were at work. I cooked my own meals. Entertained myself with toys, catch (with myself) or read book after book stuffing my head with characters and bits of information that fueled the raging fires of my imagination.

After all these years, I thought I was content. I thought I was satisfied with this way of life until – the world bumped and moved 6 degrees out of orbit with this damn Pandemic and political bullshit.

Thoughts are now entering my head that I had otherwise managed to keep out for 50+ years. Without knocking, without asking for permission, they’re sitting in my fucking living room, staring at me, like in-laws waiting for a confession.

Emotions, that were usually pretty orderly in the past, are now crashing the gates all at once and demanding to be felt.

Sadness and anger fight for pride of place, while I cope with wearing facemasks and gloves, at the same time disinfecting myself every 15 minutes, while stepping into people’s homes every day, trying to do my job.

Fear and hopefulness, are eyeing each other like snake and mongoose, while I stand helplessly to one side, wondering when I will have my life back so I can continue drifting through it.

THE PHONE WORKS, BUT NO ONE IS ANSWERING

I have my own version of prayers each night. I don’t pray to God per se, I ask the Universe, to please listen up and take note of the chaos out there and do whatever is possible to sort it out, while I build a hidey-hole in my basement, waiting for the shitstorm to blow over.

Well, I actually do a little more than that, but it’s a little less that it used to be. My get-up-and-go, hasn’t exactly got up and left, but it started smoking and hanging out in bars and I’m having a helleva time getting it home at night.

Asking for help from a friend, a spouse or anyone qualified isn’t easy to do. You’re vulnerable when you’re doing it. You announcing to one and all, that you’re not getting it done. That something in your life is either beating the crap out of you or doing something that looks a good deal like it. You’re tired and hope is draining out of you at an alarming rate and things have got to change.

So, we pray? But what are we expecting in return?

A change in the situation that is robbing us of strength and the will to succeed, or to somehow be changed, so that we can do it ourselves?

This doesn’t stop me from my nightly ritual. I do it because it gives me solace. But it has started an endless chain of questions that don’t seem to be going anywhere until I answer them.

GOD BY ANOTHER NAME

Eastern philosophies often refer to “Gods” as beings possessed of some pretty remarkable abilities, that dwell with us, above us, but never far away. They are sometimes found close to home; in the same neighborhoods where many followers live and generally not so far out of reach that people tend to forget what they are like. They are often borne out of our desires to understand how the Universe works. And come to us when no one else steps forward with answers.

Or they tend to downplay the entire idea altogether and ask us to look inward; for within each of us will be found another God – ourselves.

This concept did not arise from nothing. It was never a marketing campaign or a slogan found on the sides of ancient tea cannisters.

Concepts like this that resonate within each of us. That prompts us to set aside doubt for a moment and seriously consider its veracity, tend to have value. It’s intuitive.

Like the first time we held a plastic hammer in our hand as a child, we intuitively started banging on something. We got it.

What would happen if we looked away from the notion of a single God, positioned high above, and instead believed that these abilities, the same ones we endowed this God with, were originally ours. Perhaps not all of them, for we have over time, answered many of our questions with Science, but still have many remaining that we have assigned to faith.

What if we were the superheroes we’ve always wished for? Unable to fly perhaps or transform ourselves into other creatures, but possessed of real abilities, like the power to heal ourselves. To solve problems by stepping out of our own way. To listen to others in ways that brings about relief and change.

What if great chambers could be created, where people like us gathered and talked and created agreement on a future that actually aided our collective survival and not merely erected a long string of barriers that tested our faith and, in the end, left us with doubt and suspicion.

Wouldn’t these heroes, placed evenly throughout this world, intimately connected with all that we experience here and now, have a far greater chance of understanding what must be changed and actually be capable of doing it?

FINAL THOUGHTS

God, is a refuge. A proven balm for many of life’s aches and pain. A quiet place to go to, when the world is screaming and control seems to be in short supply. Its value is undeniable.

But is it all that we need?

If we wait for another, even one as powerful as a God, to come sort things out for us, are we in fact losing a reliance in ourselves to solve our own problems and bring control back to our own environment? What if this ability, this power to uncreate or undo everything that has tied us into knots for so long, was gifted to us long ago and for some reason fell into disuse?

Shouldn’t we reclaim it? Embrace this superpower and make the effort to bring it back, so that a pall of helplessness like this never descends on us again – or if it does, we’ll know exactly what to do about it?

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path”

Three things cannot hide for long: The moon, The Sun and the Truth.

--Gautama Buddha

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To inform, entertain, enlighten and otherwise engage in the age-old practice of storytelling. To be part of the process of keeping all of us informed on what is happening in the world around us and perhaps, if I do my job well enough, bring about change in the way we control our own lives and make the decisions that will impact our future and those of the people we care about.

Los Angeles, CA
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