Archive for April, 2012

Why are we here?

Aja

What is the purpose of our existence?

Mankind has been taking blind flailing swipes at this curious conundrum for many a millenia now; spawning religion, philosophy, and science as potential divining agents along the way.

It’s no surprise we’re so focused on it, really — after all, it’s the original question.

Without doubt, as man, through whatever means, found himself separated from the other animals due to self-reflection, his inaugural novel thought could have been nothing other than, “What now?”. In other words, “Now that I have the freedom to choose what I want to do, now that I find myself above solely instinct — what should I do?” Followed closely thereafter by the reduced version of the thought, “What is my purpose?” Or, “Why am I here?”

At the time, it must have been quite a burden.

After all, where do you begin when you don’t know what you’re after? We need a game, don’t we? A way of keeping score. Before, it was merely survival. If you did — hurrah — you were winning! But now… what were we to think? Past instinct, past simply surviving, what was our angle — what else was there to life!? Advancement? But, why? Where would that lead us? How would that be preferable to where we were?

And on and on our ancestors thoughts spiraled…

…Until, at the end of the day, (since it was simply untellable), we had to do something in order to move on. We desperately wanted to get to the truth of the matter, but, in a cruel twist of irony, what we choose to do at this juncture of our past — in order to merely begin our journey — would prove, over time and more than anything else, to carry us farther away from the very same truth we so desperately sought…

Because we so direly needed that game, that direction, that purpose — a primitive type of insecurity that has been insulating us from honest truth since before we’d known it to be a worthy pursuit — we devised a clever way to put the distracting query on the back-burner, involving, mostly, a curious type of mental gymnastic which we still employ today — namely: Religion.

Now, I try not to talk about Religion much,

though it is often on my mind.

Religion and I have traveled down a rocky, uneven road, and, being not able to objectively answer some simple conversational questions I’d had along the way, I respectfully parted ways with the thing long ago. These days, I cling to the questions. I, honestly, find greater comfort in the acceptance of non-knowlegde, than in the attempt to describe the theme park from the entrance-arch.

That’s not to say I don’t empathize with those who are religious, as a matter of fact half of my family, whom I love dearly, are members of a devout Pentecostal faith, it’s just that I don’t personally believe their revered books to be anything more than a somewhat-decent collection of historical science fiction. This, for me — along with being an only child (within a vast familial average of 3-plus), produced of a divorce, who grew up in an all around unwelcoming environment — caused me to travel along quite the lonely path of life inquiry and discovery. A path which, up until a few days ago, I had thought, of my family, I had traveled alone.

Turns out, I was wrong.

Fate, destiny, or just dumb luck: I might never know what had brought me to see John Rullo’s show that Saturday night before Easter, but whatever it was, there I stood, unnoticed — across the overly sticky barroom floor from someone who, like me, had chosen truth and isolation, over faith and family. The man jammed away blissfully on the dimly lit stage. He was quite good.

John had made himself known to me, not too terribly long before this, via Facebook, as someone who was on my vibe spiritually — which came as a surprise at the time, particularly because, initially, I’d known him from the religious world I’d been born into. As far as I knew, John had a Wife and two kids, and all of them were diehard Born-Again Christians, much like my family, who should, by all rights, have less than zero interest in the type of things and topics that find their way to my main-page. So when he let me know that he’d been not only been reading my blog, but enjoying it, by sending positive and helpful feedback through the Facebook comments, I was, understandably, a little shocked.

All I could think was, what happened to this man?

After all, this place of honest inquiry and unabashed truth could easily be described as an anti-religion. Common sense, logic, truth and reason? Hogwash! Honestly, I’ve been expecting the accusation of being the anti-Christ for some time now. But his words were true, this I was sure of. There was no pretense, hesitation, or double meaning to his comments whatsoever — he just honestly enjoyed the conversations I was putting up. So, curious as to what sea-change had manifest within this man to make him speak as he now was, I began to check out his work, and it didn’t take long for me to discover he’d written a book, “Planet Love; The end of the world as we knew it“.

Now where was I?

I had come out to the Island that Saturday, rather than solely on Easter, as was my custom, because I hadn’t seen much of my family and was hoping to play catch up. I had a vague recollection of the invitation to go see John’s show, but A) I originally hadn’t planned on being in town while the show was going on, B) Being I was playing catch-up with the fan-damily I thought I wouldn’t have the time, and, (of most relevance), C) I don’t own a car, and thus had no means of traversing the two towns necessary to get to his venue. But as fate would have it, and as the evening slowed the motions of the day while everyone in the home settled somewhat (having mutually relinquished the noteworthy stories of our recent lives to one another), my phone rang.

It was a dear old friend from high-school. She’d just been broken up with. Right before a long scheduled vacation was to happen with her, and her then man. She wasn’t happy. She needed a beer. I, in my defense, almost always can use a beer. We agreed to travel together and go hunt out a gaggle. She came by, scooped me up, and we went to the first local pub we could think of.

The guy was a jerk, that much was sure, and she was confused and in need of a good night. Aside from me, she had also reached out to another school-hood friend of ours, another cool ‘dude’, like us — evidently at some point I’d ruined his car antenna, but that’s a story for another day (it’s funny what you forget…). So, we then left the bar not long after we got there, went to this “dude’s” house across town, where we met his girlfriend and learned about what we were going to be doing for the evening — going two towns over to the very same pub that John was scheduled to play at, the “dude’s” lady had a job interview.

That's odd...

Now, look, I’m not entirely sold on the whole fate thing…

… I don’t like the idea of a predestiny any more than the inevitability of annual dentist visit, but, occasionally, something like this comes along and forces me to stop and think twice. So there I stood, against all odds and obscured by the volume of voices and the density of the crowd, directly across the way from someone who had, somehow, walked the same queer path as me. It felt like spotting an albino zebra in the wild.

Though I still hadn’t known what had happened to the man, not exactly at least, I could tell by his commenting on my work that we were alike. Mind you, I still could’ve left the bar undetected at this point, but felt like I needed to connect. When you believe as I do, it’s an opportunity that simply couldn’t be ignored. Though not completely sold on fate, I felt this was the reason I’d gotten that call earlier in the evening; this was the reason I was even here…

Finally, after the show, I got my chance to say hello.

Having only had online communication up until this point I don’t think John recognized me right away, but as soon as he did a brief flicker flashed throughout his eye, and a broad smile quickly formed about his lips. We dove into conversation, as if a gasp for fresh air, conversing about life, the universe, and the potential origins of it all — much like our ancestors had once posited, but had invariably supplanted with religion — and found that, on topic after topic, we had a similar sentiment. Truth, love, and acceptance seemed, constantly, to be the unifying threads.

Though, because the spirit of this venue was such as it was, not exactly lending to a lengthy exchange, (particularly when his Wife likely wanted to go home and my friends were all wondering where I had gone), what might have been quite the meeting of the minds had to be cut short, but before we parted, John was kind enough to thrust a copy of his book into my hands — Gratis. It took me a little over two weeks to read it, but, now that I have, how could I not share? The book is, quite literally, the quintessence of this blog as a whole, and, having fallen into my hands through such an inplausable chain of events, it just plain feels right.

Planet Love, The end of the world as we knew it

Told in a whimsical first person, past-tense narration, this work of Fiction John’s crafted, based loosely on fact, addresses just about everything that is near and dear to this blog. It is honest, raw, real and unyielding in the face of anything but truth, love, or compassion — quite inspirational indeed, (particularly to someone who still pulls punches in the face of the specific type of adversary that his awakening had riled).

It follows John throughout the days which unfold just after he has an encounter with an extraterrestrial craft, which, upon viewing, had flooded him with visions that imparted on him the knowledge of truth throughout the universe. He is left both enlivened, and bemused — as he is not sure what to make if it all. Unable to tell many people about the wondrous experience he’s had, knowing, full well, he’ll be dismissed as a nutter, John has to suffer alone with the fact that there is more to life than what those around him insist upon.

Soon, through curious and quirky twists of fate, like-minded people from varying and sporadic stages of his life make their way back in toward him, all finding that, to some extent or another, they’ve all shared in his experience. Together they begin to understand what is to come: another visitation, possibly the last, an event tantamount to the christian rapture. Gradually John begins to comprehend that this is what the ancients had reported into the biblical texts he once worshiped, merely misinterpretations of what they couldn’t fully understand at the time, harkening the third of Arthur C. Clarke’s laws on prediction: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

I wont give away the end, you should buy it and check it out for yourself, but what I will say is that it’s a very good read, which, personally, came to me at an important point in my life. John, though his story, reminds us all that life should never be about defining our differences from one another — I.E. Race, Religion, socio-economic status, gender, etc… — but, rather, should be about identifying our collective commonalities. We are, in the end, ALL AS ONE, each on a different path of experience which adds to the collective of mankind’s whole, and we all have our own paths to walk, none better than any other.

At the beginning of this post I’d mentioned that our inaugural thoughts as man, once we became self-aware, must have had to do with our purpose here on earth. At the time it was a question without answer, and so, to put it aside, we invented a system of belief, which became religion. The reason I’d started here was because this was the one thing that this book really drove home for me — when you seek truth, you don’t look for a workaround, you merely seek truth, and that’s enough. It’s OK to not know. Scary, sure, but just plain fine. Only when you know enough to know what you don’t know, can you then learn.

Did you follow that?

I think it’s important, uncertainty. But what I find equally as important is the understanding that if this is the path we all wish to follow; this blind and uncertain meandering of drunken discovery, than we must support each other — with love. Love is the glue that makes it all work, Love is the driving force behind it all, and, as beautifully illustrated in John’s book, only through the lens of love, can we ever hope to discover genuine truth.

Check it out people 😉

~J