Today, I am thinking about faith. Generally speaking, we all have faith in something; a person who we love, a relationship, an ideal, God. I certainly have faith in many things, and am very given to making judgements based on an instinct to which I fear I give far too much credit. In my experience, despite what may be logical, or statistically correct, I have found that my faith has not been misplaced. Any belief that I may have imposed on an external being, or object, or idea, may have ultimately shown itself to be incorrectly aligned, but, for the most part, I have found that having faith in something, or someone, is a rewarding, and purely human state. Put simply, I don’t feel that cynicism is a natural lens for human perception. I don’t see the point. Then again, as someone with an Idealistic Nature, I suppose that much is obvious.
Faith in the external, that’s the easy bit. Sometimes I find myself considering it to be an almost cowardly way to embrace the natural instinct that we possess to believe, because it somehow distracts from the most terrifying challenge of all. Faith in the internal. There’s the real challenge. Faith in your feelings, your ideas, your voice. Faith in you. This has been my biggest challenge – and always will be. When I look around, the conclusion that I inevitably draw, is that it’s the biggest challenge faced by each and every one of us. To live life with complete faith in oneself. Complete self – belief. That elusive core of stability to hold you up in every situation; that core that you can depend on, whatever circumstances you may face in the artificiality of the material world. I am so far from that state that I can’t imagine how that would be. Every rehearsal that I run in my own mind is riddled with the insecurities that I carry in my consciousness – those maladaptive responses that I have developed over time in a desperate act of self – protection. The responses and conditioning that I have carved onto my consciousness to protect myself are the ones that stifle me. They are the very things that hinder my ability to truly believe in myself.
I’m a fortunate human being. It is highly unlikely that I will die through malnutrition, mass genocide, war, or any other terrible means, and so my survival concerns turn inward. Towards the questions of my own existence, of whether I’m doing the “right” things, and how it’s all going to end for me. An entirely self – absorbed focus, admittedly, but as time goes on, I’m learning that if you find the answers to the questions of your own existence, and can find that magical reconciliation between the many voices of consciousness that seem to be at war with each other at every moment, you can love yourself. Believe in yourself, as an entity deserving of all that the universe has to offer. Once you can do that, you can share that love with others. You can be a better human being. Which I’m starting to realise is the whole point.
That said, there is plenty in the material world to distract you from this basic truth. And it’s easier to be distracted than it is to face the struggle that comes from wanting to break free of the shackles of the easy numbness that is so accessible to one fortunate enough to live in the First World. When you “have” everything; when you possess all of the material wealth that you could possibly want to possess, and you live inside a mess of computer wires, mobile phone radiation and the quiet hum of inebriation, it’s possible to take the “easier” road through the great voyage of life. You can drift, a quiet sense of dissatisfaction churning away in your gut, but quiet enough for you to ignore until you find yourself waking up in the morning and dreading every day ahead; compulsively looking for the validation that comes from having 5 cars parked in your drive, a few “Likes” on your latest Facebook post, or the artificial kick that you get from your first cup of coffee. Being alive doesn’t seem to do it for you anymore. You’re addicted to the empty distraction of escaping from it.
It’s really hard to face up to the fundamental battle that we all face inside ourselves. Perhaps the greater challenge, when you have the privilege of money and all of the restriction that it brings, is finding the magic element that will truly protect you from your own feelings of wanting to understand better. Of wanting to have that internal faith in yourself that renders all material validation insignificant. There is so much available that it is possible to live in a strange halfway house all the time; life can be passively focused on pure consumption – the momentary “hit” that comes from indulgence, with none of the wondrous build up, or aftermath that elevates a “hit” into an “experience.” I wonder whether we are encouraged to treat life as one big “hit”. Superficial “hits” are available everywhere you go; a titillating billboard, a sugary taster at your local M&S, the fleeting feeling of being loved via the number of “Friends” on your Facebook page. All of these things provide an immediacy of stimulation, with all of the emptiness that immediacy offers. If it doesn’t require any investment, or effort, or patience to get something, what’s the point? My conclusion is that our culture of immediate gratification doesn’t help us with the daunting task of finding faith within ourselves, but it does help to create the illusion that we’re safe, and don’t need to face any of our internal battles anymore. Technology can do it all for us – all you need to do is pay for it, and click a few buttons. And, if you still feel an emptiness inside, there are solutions to that emptiness too, which, of course, require more money, and more button clicks, but that’s the extent of the effort you have to make. It’s a safe road. These solutions won’t work beyond the superficial, but you’ll have consumed so much that you won’t realise that you are fundamentally struggling with living itself. There’s a seductive menu that caters for all levels of unhappiness, each item allowing you to escape from the question of whether the answer to the drudgery is to honestly look at yourself in the mirror and deal with the bewildering complexity that you find. All you have to do is keep on consuming. It’s easy.
Yet, underneath this culture of the quick – fix, remains that fundamental human yearning to understand it all. To find purpose. To feel connected to another human being. To feel understood and loved. Above all else, I have faith in humanity; our quest to find our place within the infinite, and to comprehend what it is all truly about. That quest never dies, no matter how much we try and hide from it; the deep gnawing of dissatisfaction continues to live within until we find each our courage, take the plunge, and begin to take those significant first steps towards finding that elusive sense of self – belief and faith in ourselves, inevitably snowballing into finding our true path and with it, the fulfilment that we seek in the deepest caverns of our being. Sounds good to me.
Life is a struggle. It’s truly hard work; sometimes all I want to do is put my head under a duvet, close my eyes and switch myself off for a while because frankly, it feels like too much. The truth that I’m coming to terms with, however, is that any kind of pay-off isn’t worth it if you don’t have to face any psychological battles, or experience heartache, or fight the odds. If you don’t struggle, you don’t experience the richness of being alive. You simply exist, in a state of artificial satisfaction that slowly kills your ability to truly live. And before you know it, you don’t really want to be alive anymore. You want to escape from each day almost as soon as it begins. To me, that is a terrible waste of the human potential that I believe each of us is born with. I truly believe that we each have magic within us; which we can harness if we are willing to take a leap into the unknown, find faith in ourselves, and bravely share what we find as we build our wings and journey to the other side.