by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
What does it take to make a skeptic into a believer? I don’t know. Certainly, I’ve pondered this question many, many times. Quite often in this very blog. I can’t speak for all skeptics. I can’t speak for all agnostics. I can’t speak for atheists. I can’t speak for non-believers. The only person I can speak for is myself, which I do quite regularly, thank you very much.
Once, a long time ago, I was a believer. I trusted in the universe, and I believed in possibilities. Not only did I believe in possibilities – but I believed many of those possibilities were realities. Yes – I was young. But I listened to what my gut told me and I followed that instinct.
Somewhere along the way, my brain got involved. At some time in my life, I lost touch with my sense of magic, and began to trust only cold, hard logic. That sense of logic and concrete reasoning was something on which I prided myself, and it became a source of ego. It became a big part of my definition of who I am. I am Karen. I am intelligent. My reasoning skills are stronger than those parts of me that tug at me and pull me towards trust. My mind became my sense of self-identity and how I presented myself in the world.
My spirit? Meh. Spirits were for people without my superior intelligence and ability to reason.
This was an unconscious process. I’m not sure how or when it started. Perhaps when I was in emotional turmoil, my ability to rely on cold reason helped me to push aside those huge feelings that I was having. Maybe reason made it easier to cope, because reason can be made to eclipse feeling.
I started as a believer. In many things. In God. In my power and beauty as a spirit. In ghosts. In possibilities. And somewhere along the line, I let my brain take over and it talked me out of every one of those things.
I’ve gone in cycles. Belief. Disbelief. Belief. Disbelief. There was a time in my early 30s when I felt as if I was awakening from a dream. Suddenly, the cold hard logic with which I’d made my decisions seemed empty to me. Some tiny part of me reconnected with the possibilities, and I poked my head out of the sand to have a look around.
This was the period of time when I started to use affirmation and visualization to see a better life for myself. I won’t rehash it here. I wrote about it in this very blog back in June in my blog post, Becoming.
And then, life took over. I went through a divorce. I struggled with money. I became a single parent. I lost a job. I found a job, met Jim, moved to a new city, bought a home, raised the kids – it was just life. During all of that turmoil, intellect and reasoning has been an effective way to insulate me from the wild swings in emotion that have accompanied it all.
A few years ago, something happened. All of those things I wondered about when I was younger – all of those things I had believed in and locked away – began to poke around the fringes of my mind. There were things that I had ignored or reasoned away for years, and it suddenly felt imperative that I aggressively seek out the answers.
I started to seek. But I did it in the way that I had learned using the language that I had taught myself in my years of disbelief. I used reasoning and logic to look. You’ve seen the result of that many times in my articles for the magazine, in my posts on the forums, and in my blogs.
For years I have relied on reasoning, intellect and work ethic to make my way in this world. It was universal in its application. Intellect was always (with the single exception of relating to Jim and the kids) the tool that I used. But then, something else started to muscle its way through all of that.
I began to realize that I was ignoring a huge part of myself by identifying only with my mind. Impressions, emotions, intuition – they all begin to nudge at me in a way that couldn’t be ignored.
Recently, I’ve started to pay attention to those things. In doing so, it feels as if I have reclaimed a huge lost part of myself. Stepping aside from intellect, I am starting to believe. And in starting to trust and believe in those parts of myself that I have so long set aside, I feel as if I am coming home.
Lately, I am opening up to the possibilities. And I am doing it in conjunction with the intellect that is such a huge part of my ego. It’s pretty hard to set aside that part of myself, and I don’t believe that I should entirely set it aside. I have been gifted with logic and intellect for a reason, and we should never ignore any of the gifts that we are given.
But by that same logic, I can’t ignore the other gifts I have been given either. My curious mind. A bang-on sense of intuition. A number of fantastic and amazing experiences. Broad, sweeping, all-encompassing emotion. An inner voice that seems to guide me in the direction I want to go. My desires. My dreams.
In remembering and reclaiming those things, I realize that I have long denied myself the big, bold life that I could be living in lieu of remaining in safe space that my mind provides me.
I once wrote a poem. At the time, the poem was just words. Something I longed to feel but never could. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even allow myself to believe in the second half of the poem (the last stanza) because I felt that I hadn’t earned it.
I’ve changed my mind. Now I have earned it. I have found a place where I am starting to trust and starting to believe. And in doing that, my life is open to possibilities I couldn’t have even envisioned from that place of lofty intellect in which I sat so long.
Here it is. The poem I wrote on October 16, 2001 in its entirety. I’ve earned it.
Part of the View
history repeats again and again
until I learn
how to quite the battle within
and trust my inner vision
as my guide to what lingers
beyond the edges of understanding
safety lies away from the edge
where I can wait
and watch opportunity slip away
leaving me to wonder
what could have been
or what might be
if for just one moment
I stopped peeking at the view
and became a part of it
backing away from the precipice
I start to run
as fast as I can towards the edge
with my arms open wide
there is nothing on my back
but the wind
pressing me forward
as terror subsides
and joy flows
I leap off the edge at top speed
with my eyes wide open