I have a feeling it was the character of Marcus in Babylon five who commented on how much worse life would be if we felt we deserved what we got. Life is not reliably kind, and often more like the opposite. I find in face of setbacks, that I get the downright unhelpful urge to look for meaning. The desire to extract meaning from the chaos that is reality underpins so much of what humans do. It is the basis of all science, philosophy and much artistic endeavour. We want it to make sense.
One of the common arguments against faith of any kind is that everything we observe makes it clear the universe is neither fair nor friendly. At best we might understand it as neutral, but there are days when downright hostile seems a more realistic interpretation. Different faiths and philosophies offer different ways of coming to terms with this. I think they can be divided into taking comfort from the idea that there is a god, and/or a much nicer afterlife to look forward to, or learning to adapt the mind in ways that making living a less painful experience. Not all such solutions need be faith based. Opting not to care is one of the easiest ways to avoid pain.
For a long time, I’ve resisted the possibility of religion as comfort. I have never really wanted my Druidry to comfort me. Except possibly sometimes in the middle of the night when, sleepless and overwrought I can see no way through. The thought of some friendly parent-god with words of encouragement and wisdom has its appeal then. Of course I want someone to promise me it’s all going to be ok. I probably wouldn’t believe it if they did.
What does Druidry offer you, during one of those long nights of the soul? What is there to turn to when life shows another hostile or malevolent face? When there is no justice, no peace and no apparent way forward? Druidry most certainly doesn’t tell us to sit back and wait for God to fix it, or that it is all part of some plan for our betterment that we mere mortals aren’t able to comprehend. Does anyone really draw comfort from such ideas anyway?
In the long dark, sleepless hours, in the dark night of the soul, my Druidry says ‘this too shall pass.’ Tomorrow the sun will come up, same as usual and if it doesn’t, you’ll have far bigger things to worry about than this latest setback. My Druidry says that the only sure fire way to lose is by giving up and reminds me that I would not have chosen the paths that involved not caring, not feeling. I can look back over recent events and recognise that yes, while I’ve made a bucketload of mistakes, I’ve not acted dishonourably. I’ve always done what seemed right, its just that there were times when the information I had to figure that out from was exceedingly faulty. That’s not always much comfort, but I know from experience it beats the hell out of lying there awake thinking you might have acted dishonourably.
My Druidry reminds me that plenty of people have it worse, but not that this is a reason to belittle or ignore my own distress. I pause to be grateful for what I do have, and to remind myself that life goes on and I am not beaten. It also encourages me to make the best of things, to focus on the good, and to extract what meaning I can from experiences. I don’t have to view the current trials as life being hostile. These are opportunities to test my strength, to prove my courage, to demonstrate that money is not the be all and end all and that I will not bow down in face of bullying behaviour. If life was always easy, I’d have no scope to prove myself.
Although a day off now and then wouldn’t go amiss. As Tom says, it’s character building. I am going to end up with so much character that other people will catch it just by standing in proximity to me. I’m going to drip puddles of it onto floors.
We can’t really know how anything we is, but how we understand it shapes our experiences. Hello hostile universe. How are you going to behave if I start treating you as though this is all very helpful and productive?