Monday, April 24, 2006

Believe

I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there's more to life than just what i can see
Oh i believe
Brooks and Dunn, Believe
I heard this song on the way home tonight. The gist seemed to be that life sucks so much that there must be more to it. Is that what drives belief in God and religion? A desparate need to believe in something more? Is it the refuge of the hopeless? Is this the reason for deathbed confessions and the growth of charismatic religions in poor parts of the world? Are religion and communism the false hopes of the hopeless?

I was struck at how sad it is that the hopeless turn to an illusory, imaginary hope instead of discovering how to genuinely improve their lives. It strikes me because I spent almost 40 years chasing the illusion. It was punctuated by moments of joy and esoteric beauty, but those moments were overshadowed by the burdens imposed following the faith of my father. It was a joyless, conformist way of life that left me joyless, cold, and full of guilt for the shortcomings that I was constantly reminded of. As I realized that those I had trusted had misled me my entire life I also realized that my religious life was not making me happy. I was doing things because I was told that they would make me happy, without every reaping the promises. It was just another lie.

So what brings happiness? I'm afraid I don't have the answer for that yet. At least not a complete answer. But I'm happy today. Let me tell you why and perhaps partly answer the question.

Friday night I spent a late evening with my wife at the Alamo Drafthouse watching a movie and eating pizza and pecan pie. Then we came home and went to bed but not to sleep. After 5 hours of sleep I jumped on my motorcycle for a sunrise ride to College Station where I met Joseph's Left One for a triple mocha latte and a nice visit. Then off to the race track to watch motorcycles streaking by at 160 mph and visit with old racing buddies. Then lunch with JLO and three of his kids and more interesting conversation. On the way back to Austin I passed through the rolling ranch land along highway 21 and admired the beauty of this part of Texas in the spring. It was warm and sunny, the grass was green, the cattle were grazing in the fields surrounded by oak trees, streams, rivers, and ponds. It's quite a contrast from the rugged limestone hills, stunted scrub junnipers, live oaks, and prickly pear cactus just a couple of hours west in Austin. When I got home I spent the evening watching a movie with my wife and some friends. Then Sunday morning I got up after 4 hours sleep and ran the Schlotzsky's Bun Run 5k at very close to a personal best time despite warm, humid weather. After sleeping a few hours I spent the rest of the day watching motorcycle racing on TV and visiting with the family. It was a great two days. It was great to spend solitary time enjoying nature's beauty on the motorcycle. It was wonderful to share memories and thoughts with an old friend reunited, of all things, by a shared disbelief in what originally brought us together. And it was wonderful to spend time with friends and family. Peaceful time for introspection, thoughtful conversation, and sharing time with friends and family must be part of the equation for happiness.

I don't know. I really don't want more than that. No real need to believe in illusions and pretty promises. Is it too much to ask to be happy now? I don't need to believe in anything else. I guess that should make me sad, but it doesn't.

3 comments:

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

The smell of sage in the spring, my husband's hand on my back, the cheep of a finch... just a few things that make me happy. :-)

C.L. Hanson said...

I think the explanation is the following: Humans have a strong survival instinct and are conscious of their own existence and future non-existence.

Naturally they latch onto stories that help them deal with this: "existence is of critical importance to me, therefore I want to justify it," and "I can't conceive of one day not existing so I want an alternative."

Joseph's Left One said...

Another amazing post. I'm with you: it's enough to enjoy a latte and some good conversation and look at the blue sky and the wildflowers. I don't need to believe in an invisible guy in the sky to be happy.