I find that mostly, people do things because of an alterior motive and normally that motive has something to do with them and what they want. Really want. Like, deep down. And specifically here I am addressing the motive behind the need to be liked, accepted, even....popular. Everyone wants 1000 "friends" or more on Facebook. Everyone wants as many Twitter followers as the celeb down the street. Really, we have no celebs down our streets but if we did... Everyone wants to be appreciated by their co-workers and valued by their friends and really isn't that also just a damn popularity contest?
I have never quite figured out the knack for popularity. I have found myself having it at odd times and for what I considered the most stupid reasons imaginable. For instance, after being the favorite bully target for my entire grade school career, I got popular in 9th grade because over the summer I had grown boobs. It was ridiculous really and I knew it. I began to find the reasons for popularity so absurd that I started to actively seek being ANTI-popular.
Being anti-popular doesn't mean being hated. It doesn't involve being outright mean or snarky. It more means to me being your own sort of creature and being OK with that. Being anti-popular has had rewards. A thick skin is formed with practice. Learning to hear and recognize the beat of your own dance, whether it is coordinated or not, does have merit. Laughing outloud at yourself and others is highly underrated as a stress reducer. Speaking your own mind, whether the thoughts that come from it are the most sought after of the moment can give you your own voice.
Of course there is the stigma attached to not really giving a shit about fitting in. Also, people confuse being anti-popular with not caring about anything at all. As if because it doesn't matter to me how many Facebook friends I have I am somehow flawed. I don't care about the right things to the extent that I should. I rarely ask how anyone's weekend went. I really don't care so why would I ask. I engage in very little "water cooler" talk. It isn't that I am some company sod it is just that people are boring. I don't care if your aunt has the flu or your grandpa has gout. I'm just not interested. I don't enjoy shopping with girls. I'm not a fan of designer purses but I'll be damned if I will drink bad beer. My chick compass is a bit "off" and it does make for a more uphill walk through the park of life.
So, at various times and for various reasons I have tried to lessen my disdain for all those perfect, wonderful, white-bread people of the world. I have attempted to look on the brighter side, smile and promote myself and join the ranks of those chasing fame, whatever form it may take in a person's life. I find it exhausting mostly. So, I always go back to being anti-popular. Still, it stings doesn't it? I work hard. I am highly educated, at least for my career track and even for my geographical area. Even my "hobbies" get the amount of attention most people give their actual job. At certain points I do find that as a whole, I am a bit too prickly for most people, too opinionated, too stand-offish. Rest assured I am only appearing that way because I am observing, therefore protecting what little sensitivity I have left after all these years. Either that or I really do think you are an idiot.
My mom gave me a passage once that was a Bible story for dogs. We have had pets my entire life and they were ALWAYS a part of the family. It is no surprise to me that I have an affection for animals that goes way beyond any warm feelings i have for most of the humans in my life. This passage that she gave me clicked with me SO much that i modified it to suit my beliefs and feelings. When our beloved retriever mix died several years ago i got him cremated. I just couldn't let him go. I HAD to have him with me and that is basically why i made the choice to have him cremated. There are animals in my life that i feel should be buried in the earth - a particular cat of ours that started life as a stray and to her last day loved being outside - SHE belongs under a big tree on the hill. She belonged to the earth and that's where she returned. But, this dog of ours, who used to sit patiently at the door until i arrived home every night... This dog that during a particularly dark period in my life was there to comfort me, as if to say - I'll wait for you. This dog who could not bear to be out of my sight, who would do WHATEVER i asked of him simply because i asked... THIS dog belonged with me forever. So i had him cremated and my mate made a lovely, decorative wooden box for his ashes. I put this poem in the box with him, along with a picture of the cat mentioned above, who was his good friend, and a candle to light his way should he need it.
A Dog's Story ~ Goddess Style
The Great Goddess, who was herself the earth and the sky; the sea and the soil, summoned a beast from the fields and said, "Behold these creatures that beckon you and adore them. Protect them in the wilderness, watch over the flocks they keep and accompany them wherever they may go - even into
civilization. Be a companion, an ally, a friend. To do these things, you shall be endowed with instincts uncommon to other beasts: faithfulness, devotion and understanding surpassing even that of these creatures. Lest it impair your courage, you shall never foresee your death. Lest it impair your loyalty, you
shall be blind to the faults of your companions. Lest it impair your understanding, you are denied the power of words. Speak to your companions only with your mind and through your kind eyes. Walk by their sides; sleep in their nests; forage for them; ward off their enemies; carry their burdens; share their afflictions; love them and comfort them. And in return for this, these human creatures will fulfill your needs and wants, which shall be only food, shelter and affection. So be silent, and be a friend to these humans. Guide them along
the way onto this land that is my gift to all creatures. This shall be your destiny and your immortality". So spoke the Goddess. And the dog heard and was content.
....or lack of it. We grow, we change, we transform. Doesn't mean there is anything wrong with what we might have felt last week, month, year. Just that, well, things change.
What does it mean when this happens with our spiritual nature? Sometimes it can cause major issues in our lives. Just ask any former Christian who now believes something else. Or nothing. Or whatever. Families have fallen apart over this stuff. Friendships have ended.
During my own life journey I have found that Pagans can be a very judgmental bunch amongst ourselves. For all of the "love and light" that goes on people sure do get their panties in a twitch over your alter not being set up according to Wicca 101 practice. I find it exhausting. At some juncture, I came to this pivotal point where I considered myself less traditionally magical than others and had no interest in becoming more like them. I, instead, just wanted to be myself. It was at that point I simply began calling myself a witch, rather than saying "I am Wiccan" or whatever. This was some time ago and now, even the word "witch" seems to me to conjure up some specific notion to people that isn't necessarily who I am AT ALL. I don't do spellwork. I do some ritual but it is limited as well. I am not an elaborate sort of practitioner and I could not even tell you the last time I went through each and every "appropriate" step of casting a circle.
I just don't care. I am not saying that I don't believe. That is completely different than not caring. I am saying that I don't care and I don't think the Universe does either. I don't think It is keeping track. In the same way I don't think there is one God sitting up there on his lofty cloud keeping track I just don't think anything else is, whether that be God/Goddess, the numerous Entities people pray to and involve in ritual, The Nog (LOL).
I DO believe the Earth and the Universe are alive. I believe the Earth is an extension of that Universe and the we are all part of the Whole. But, that Whole is too big to fathom, too massive, too powerful, too beyond what comprehension we could even dream to have. I believe that being part of that extension as the Earth is, so is everything roaming on it, under it, above it; everything growing, breathing, breeding, changing, constantly morphing in some manner to make up that Whole. But we can never see the Whole. We can never touch it outside ourselves and we certainly can't study it or know it in the way that people claim to have a "personal relationship" with God. It is mysterious and awesome yes, but does it have conscious thought and will and does it care that I lied in third grade or that my best friend is screwing her husband's co-worker (I don't have a best friend by the way) or that Sam and I live in sin? HELL NO! At least I don't think so.
So, gosh, what AM I? Who AM I? What do I believe in anyway? I had submitted to the question of "what is Paganism to you" some years ago. I came across my response while cleaning out my office area and still agree with it and would probably even add to it to the extent that I have above. I realized when discussing it that others (Pagans) are mostly in agreement with a good portion of it, however, it is not enough for them. I have touched on this before in the Podcast. Case in Point:
Episode 16 ~ Spiritual Creatures
If you want to skip the rest these thoughts begin at approximately 21 minutes in.
Since I feel I am tied to this Earth and that it is living and since I am not a believer in specific Gods and Goddesses in the way that many Pagans are I feel I have obligations. Not that others don't - that isn't what I'm saying. My obligations are simply different. Because although at times I name my spiritual images and when I do pray I use those names ~ ie ~ I pray to Artemis for the wild things and when I dreamed or visioned of myself long ago as a witch it was clear to me that this portion of the Universe calling to me, calling me Gillian, was what/who I considered to be Artemis at that time. That does not mean that I feel as if Artemis is THE Goddess I worship. I worship the Earth, Life, the Universe, the Unknown something out there that we are all part of and if there is a portion of it I call Artemis at some instance when it seems right, so be it. But, to me, there is that very real possibility that the here and now is what there is and that once that is done the unquestionably magical part is that I, as part of the Earth, will go into that Earth and simply be swallowed by it, consumed and reduced again, to it. And in being reduced I will become a million little particles and those particles will turn to dust and go a million different places and that is reincarnation folks.
So, my personal obligations given that these are my beliefs are to live here, amidst that which I believe to be sacred and to experience it and be a part of it. So to me this means that I shall not spend my time with elaborate details and spellcrafting when I can go to a barn and groom my horse. When I can smell the Earth on him and press my ear to his side and listen to his heart. That is my worship. I can't overconcern myself with correspondence charts and alter locations when I can feel the rain hit my face as I run and sweat, feel my heart beat faster and my muscles ache as I crest the top of the hill, breath in cold fog and know that I am a part of it All. That is my celebration, my praise, my proof. My faith.
Someone suggested to me the other day that I was one step away from Atheist. He said it in a manner which led me to believe that it was his opinion that I was one step away from what was right. I am not so sure if I would go that far. Maybe I should qualify myself as a Patheist. LOL. Has that label been taken yet? I kinda like the sound of it.