It seems cliche to start a blog with a quote from John Lennon’s imagine – but it’s what I’m going to do. I just thought I’d include this paragraph at the beginning so that it seemed slightly less cliche…a disclaimer, if you will.
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
~John Lennon, Imagine
So here’s what happened. A little over a year ago, I became a flat out believer in ghosts. One moment, I was pretty darn skeptical – I couldn’t come up with a yes or no answer, and then after one night at Wellington, I believed. I get it. That happens sometime, but to quote Penthouse Forum (which I have, of course, never read), “I never thought that this would happen to me…”
With that moment of belief, I allowed my inherent questioning nature to fade slowly into the background. Of course there are ghosts. And I do still, to this very moment, believe that there is something out there that we perceive as being ghosts. “Strange things are afoot at the Circle K,” to quote those excellent philosophers, Bill and Ted. (If you’re not from the 80s, I apologize for that reference. The rest of you know exactly what I’m talking about.)
From the moment I believed in ghosts, I noticed other beliefs starting to slip themselves in there, too. Things that I previously had been unsure about. Never a disbeliever, but never a believer either. I began to believe in the human soul. I began to believe in the afterlife. I began to believe in some kind of an underlying universal intelligence (not necessarily God) that was behind absolutely everything. One belief led to another, which led to another.
The timing was probably right. After all, I was going through a rough patch that started with the same rough patch so many have experienced. I was laid off from my job of eight years, and there weren’t a whole lot of jobs in my neck of the woods for my area of expertise. Actually, there weren’t any. It led to a period of 18 months of relative unemployment, although not idleness. But with that layoff, something that had been part of my self-image was yanked out from under me. Suddenly, I was in a place where there seemed to be little hope. And so naturally, my mind wandered to things that gave me hope – the belief that there was more than what we perceive in our world; the belief that there was a plan; the belief that everything happens for a purpose and a reason.
It’s not that I didn’t believe those things before. It was that I wanted to believe them, but couldn’t quite get myself into full-on belief. And since I really wanted to believe them, that made everything even more suspect. Neurotic much? Actually, it’s the way my mind works. I pretty much question everything. But in the past year or so, because of the experiences I had, I’d gotten used to having fewer questions about some pretty big things.
I suppose I should stop here for a moment. I need to interrupt the flow of my narrative to tell you this. This isn’t a retraction of what I’ve come to believe and shared with you all over the past year. I’m still leaning in the direction of a plan, some kind of a universal intelligence, the existence of the soul and the reality of ghosts.
But last night, just for a moment in time, I had a John Lennon moment. It was funny, really, how out of left field it came. I was sitting and reading a book when the thought popped into my mind, “What if there is truly nothing out there?”
I stopped – and just for a split second, I could experience that. I totally could feel what it would be with nothing out there. Nothing before we are born. Nothing after we die. No ghosts, no sensitives, no psychics, no plan, just randomness. And here’s what’s really strange. It wasn’t that bad. It didn’t feel dark and lonely and empty and lost. It didn’t feel frightening or purposeless. It didn’t feel unsafe. It wasn’t horrifying or hopeless in anyway. It just was. If only for a moment, it was and I experienced it fully.
That’s when I figured something else out. I don’t need to believe. What a freeing thought that is, because quite frankly I’ve been struggling with the fact that I believe and therefore I must need to believe because I’ve been going through a tough time – job wise, economically, health-wise. In that John Lennon moment, however, I learned something else. I’m perfectly fine if I disbelieve. I don’t believe because I need to. I believe for one reason and one reason only. Because I do.
That’s all it was. A random moment. A snippet in time where I slipped into an experience that I not only feared, but was counter to what I thought I wanted to believe with all of my heart. But that moment was a gift because it showed me that I don’t need to believe. I just do.
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