No cross to bear

Daily Prompt: Un/Faithful

Couldn't help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. :)
Couldn’t help but add some humor into this relatively heavy topic. ūüôā

Having been raised atheist, I have had to learn about the deeper meaning and contexts of faith, and how it applies to my life, for myself and by myself.  Noone ever told me what to think, so I was forced to find that light in the dark on my own.

One of the biggest influences on my perception of the concept of faith was the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving.  In typical Irving fashion, Christianity, spirituality and faith are key themes running through the novel and shaping central character development.

I don’t think that it’s possible to develop any character (fictional or real) without some exploration of faith and what it means to your life. ¬† It is so important to examine what you believe in, and why, and to know the difference between the stories you’ve been told, the stories you tell yourself, and what you believe to be good and right and true.

Reading the novel was a huge turning point in my life because it demonstrates (via Irving’s deliciously descriptive dark humour, vivid imagery, and twisted characters) how we¬†can actually have faith without religion!

Now this seems so obvious, but at the time it was huge for me because before then, I always thought that the notion of faith was purely a religious reference: either you believe in ‘God’ or you don’t, and that is your ‘faith’. ¬†The term is so often associated with organized religion that it wasn’t until reading the novel that I understood completely that the concept¬†did not need to hold any religious significance. ¬† We can actually believe as deeply in ourselves as we can ascribe that kind of belief to an external being or organization or scripture!

At the same time, the way in which it does have significance for a religious person is not that different from the way in which non-religious people do. ¬† The faith that people refer to in terms of a ‘God’ is also connected to a feeling, or a knowing ‘in your heart.’ ¬†It doesn’t matter if the ‘knowing’ is connected to a sense that god does or doesn’t ‘exist’, it’s just that knowing that is the faith. ¬†So this is a key theme that runs through all forms of spirituality.

The notion of faith is very similar no matter which story you are telling. ¬†To me¬†it means that the heart or soul knows something that can’t really be explained. ¬†It may develop from a belief, experience, or feeling but it’s just something that you know. ¬†¬†

The part that many organized (Western) religions miss, though, or maybe don’t focus on¬†enough¬† is the concept of looking inward first, having faith in self first, and then looking outward to ‘god.’ ¬†They place more emphasis on specific external ‘things’ to define their faith, rather than coming at it from the heart, and that is where problems arise.

The thing that some religions do negatively (in my opinion) is that they sometimes associate the idea of a faith with heaviness, with darkness.  Faith should be about believing in light.  Faith is not about burdens, or darkness, or guilt, or fear.  It is the opposite of fear.

I still find myself stumbling around sometimes, searching for the light within, and some days the fire burns stronger than others. ¬†But then I try to remember that living a great life requires taking leaps of faith, leaps that won’t happen without unwavering faith in yourself.

Daily Prompt: Hate to Love

Today’s DP: Tell us about a guilty pleasure you hate to love.

When I first read this I thought, ooooh, fun, I can write about something bad. ¬†Something that gives me that little high that I get when I’m doing something I’m really not supposed to do. ¬†My mind started wandering towards the sex, drugs, rock and roll realm of things.

I love you Bowie
I love Bowie

My curiosity piqued, I began to read what others were writing about.  After reading a few, I started feeling pretty guilty about my guilty pleasures.  They seem much more extreme than Pinterest, Jesus Christ Superstar, Twilight, and special coffees.

(Now,¬†Pawn Stars. ¬†That is something I could get into. ¬†That’s a little¬†bad ass.)

So, fellow bloggers. ¬†I don’t mean to pick on you, but take this as a friendly nudge: on the one hand, you might need to have more fun. ¬†On the other, you are probably way healthier and more well-balanced than me if these truly are your guilty pleasures. ¬†Besides this, it’s inspiring me to think of another prompt that gets you to expose your true bad ass¬†side. ūüėČ

I just read Hastywords’ daily prompt post¬†which clarified where my head was at: it immediately went to the ‘hate to love’ part of this prompt.¬†That is the part of the prompt that lead me into thinking of more intense, life-altering things, like relationships.

james-dean-motorcycle-photo

So here is one thing I hate to love:¬†Bad boys. ¬†I have (basically) learned why I shouldn’t date them. ¬†But I still like looking and flirting and thinking about being whisked away on the back of that motorcycle. ¬†Yes please.

Now, about that guilty pleasure:¬†I’m trying, really hard to think of something. ¬†You know why I can’t?

Life is too short to ascribe the world ‘guilt’ to these little pleasures. Seriously, do it or don’t, but if or when you choose to do it, please just do yourself a favor and enjoy the heck out of it! ¬†

The Daily Prompt: Time Capsule

Today’s Daily Prompt question:¬†

The year is drawing to a close. What would you put in a 2012 time capsule?

soap-bubble

I see images of warm-fuzzy memories inside clear Christmas ornaments, or the kind of rainbow bubbles that form from those gigantic wands.  They are transparent and drifting upwards, dancing on currents of wind.

I spent much of this past year navigating through a partnership that in many regards was so sweet and loving, but in the end the tumultuous parts overcame us.  Regardless, I learned to love deeply and appreciate the present moment with another person in a way that I never had before.  I learned so much about myself this year.

When I think of the warm moments that came alongside having a serious partner, I try to remember how those feelings came about and how I can still achieve that kind of joy without / external to a relationship.

I‚Äôve learned that I don‚Äôt have to be ‚Äėin love’ to be loving and joyful.

The things below are some that are worth holding onto:

Photo walks. I would (we would) go on random excursions to different parts of the city and some of my favorite photos came from those days.¬† I have mostly done this alone throughout my life, but last year was happy when I had company.¬† ¬†I suppose the photos actually are on the ‚Äėtime capsule‚Äô that is my hard drive!

Hugs. If I could capture the warmth in the hugs that I have given and received (with everyone, not just my ex), in order to access them sometime in the future when I was alone and really needed one…that would be amazing.

Cooking. This was the year that I really learned to take pleasure in cooking and sharing a meal with another, even when (especially when) there was no money for anything else.  Some of my favorite memories from last year were the times when we cooked and appreciated that abundance: I (we) felt so broke and stressed about it, but there was always enough.

My apartment. I moved into a 1 bedroom apartment about a year ago and really enjoyed most aspects of sharing it with my partner when he was living with me. ¬†I liked having the company, and I loved that when I did cook or do chores, there was someone else around to appreciate it. ¬†He also inspired me to invest in some nicer furniture and things, something that I’ve never really prioritized until this past year. ¬†Now alone, I’m continuing to (re) create my living space into one that looks more ‘adult’ and truly makes me feel happy, safe and comfortable. ¬†And I’m grateful every day for the stellar neighbors and location!

Bike rides.  I met and got to know many people this past year on some long group bike rides, exploring the city, listening to music and laughing.  There were moments on those rides that I felt truly free.  The exercise and fresh air made me happy too.

The beach. I hope to visit or live near a new beach in the year (s) to come, but will never forget our Vancouver views.

Writing. This was the year that I started to blog regularly and realized how freeing it is.

Since I can’t literally put these ‘feeling’ moments into a material time capsule, I will store them here. ¬†This blog is the way that I’m capturing the good moments¬†as I realign my life into 2013 — bring it on, future!