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29 March, 2012

G is for Goals

A lot of people have goals for religion.

They want to achieve initiation. They want to find a patron deity. They want to do this, have done this, achieve that, get to the finish line, and then, I guess, ... what? You can stop? I suppose for the ones whose goal is "get access to heaven" once they get there they can stop, but seriously folks.

And a lot of these people sound to me like folks who have planned out their perfect wedding and have no idea how they want to conduct a marriage. But it will be brilliant, it will be perfect, the weather will conform, and the spouse will be ideal. And everything gets measured up against the wedding, that supposed "best day of your life" for a cartoon woman: will it serve the wedding? will that person look right in the tux? is this picture-perfect? Does it do what I want?

And some of these people achieve their fairy-tale lacy cake with the fluffy, cloying frosting. And then they wake up the next morning and have no fucking clue what they're doing with themselves. Everything was geared towards The Goal, all issues were plastered over and touched up with paint to make it through The Goal, and now everything can come apart, because there's nothing sustainable about that vision of peak performance aimed at perfection.

Every day is not your wedding day.

There are a lot more every days than there are wedding days.

In fluffy fairyland I can do my morning prayers when I get up after feeling fully rested, and go about my day. In the real world, I'm awakened by Little Foot poking me and shouting "Time get up! Go down taaaaairs!", and half the time can't convince her to stay and "help mama count" my situps, let alone let me do my prayers without either jumping on me or heading off on her own (fortunately, she can take care of herself well enough that I don't worry about that much). And that's just morning rituals. Making a goal of perfect religious practice is a non-starter, and even if through some miracle and divinely appointed childcare I pulled it off one day, there's still tomorrow.

It's not done. When you reach a goal, you get to be done.

Religion is not goals. (And really, look at all those people who have as a "goal" making it to heaven - how many faces do some of them stomp on because they think it'll give them a step up towards the clouds?) Religion is relationships.

You don't get a relationship and then be done. You have to show up the next day too, and the next day. Sometimes they want more time, sometimes they want less. When everything is going well, relationships are uplifting and supportive, helping you to be better, stronger, more competent, more secure, because people are the sort of animal that gangs up on things. I'm not talking just romantic relationships here - friends, family, all of these are relationships. Deities: also relationships. The grand span of the freaking universe: relate to that too! And sometimes the relationships need your support instead of just feeding you, and it all goes around in cycles: I give, you give, and as we give so we make it possible to continue giving.

Don't think of it as something you get done.

Think of it as a relationship with how to live.


Cat said...

Great food for thought, thank you! I find the relationship image very helpful.

I've been wondering for a while now about how I can integrate an "everyday spiritual practice" (which is what I call it) into my life. Sometimes what I do works well, sometimes it doesn't. But I keep doing, ultimately. Or rather, I keep coming back to doing.

Eve said...

This! This is brilliant.

Kleaf19 said...

This is one of the most amazing posts I think I've read, not just in the PBP, but ever! Because you have so nailed this on the head. Put into words exactly how a goal should be regarded. The wedding and relationship scenario summed it up nicely!


Bren Lee said...

Fabulous post! I haven't been long in my journey to find a path yet, I don't have a goal. It's clearly a "lifestyle" to me with no end in sight. I'm going to subscribe to your blog! :)