I have always believed that spirituality, in its many forms, has been created to help us cope with the unbearable side of life. How does someone continue living after something devastating has happened to them? How do you make sense of that which is nonsensical? When I think about the delicacy of all of our lives, and of my son’s life specifically, I completely understand the need for something larger, something outside our lives that’s managing all of this, that promises a plan is in place and that peace can be ours, if only we have enough faith.

Who wouldn’t want to believe that death offers a new beginning? That if someone you love dies before you do, you will see them again? I can barely type that, thinking about the unthinkable. If my children left this earth before I did. How could I go on without believing that we would be together again?

Well. I’m not sure, really, what I believe when it comes to the end of our bodies and the endless time that happens afterwards. I think the answer is that I truly don’t know, but I think it’s more about what happens while we’re still here.

I have been thinking lately about the small moments of wonder and joy that elevate the humdrum human existence into something nearly magical, and how they can sometimes be as simple as the short, sincere wave someone gives you in their rearview mirror when you let them merge in front of you on the freeway. Or the way a dog will roll on their back in the grass, grunting and bending from side to side to get that one itchy spot. The smell of fresh bread, the clear night sky away from the city lights, the startle of a ladybug taking flight from your arm, the froggy crook of a baby’s legs, the feeling of using a coveted new beauty product for the first time, the sound of Jeff Probst’s voice saying “Come on in guys”.

If there is a point to life, I think it is to experience those things, those tiny starbursts of happiness. Among the successes, accomplishments, passions, sorrows, jealousies, failures, losses, it is the small moments of transcendental goodness that make me feel like every minute of every day is worth living.

So. Tell me, what do you believe in?

Comments

72 Responses to “The Tao of the Mundane”

  1. gabby on November 11th, 2007 1:32 pm

    I believe in God. I believe that He knows all and is all and if we seek it, He will comfort us at all times.

    I believe in an afterlife. I KNOW I’ll be with my loved ones again.

    I believe in love and random acts of kindness and that the small things I try to do everyday are what counts.

    I believe that when I sit with my son and rock him while he’s sick or read to him or whisper to him, I’m doing something so monumental it takes my breath away.

    I believe in everlasting love. In my husband to always hold me. In the sound of my parents’ voice. In the joy of my son. In the laughter shared with friends. In shopping and talking with my sister. In sitting and watching the ocean.

    I especially believe in the small moments of life.

  2. Amy on November 11th, 2007 4:38 pm

    What a wonderful post, and what a wonderful readership you have. I believe

    * That happiness is one of our only true choices in life,
    * That regret is a waste of time,
    * That the point of my life is to leave this world a better place than it was when I found it.

  3. victoria on November 11th, 2007 6:29 pm

    Guns. I believe in guns. Give me a big, powerful rifle over the froggy crook of a baby’s leg any day. Who wants to be cooing at a baby when they could be killing a deer? The tangy whiff of gunpowder. The powerful, satisfying kick in the shoulder. The animal’s desperate, gore-drenched struggle to move away from me. Yeah, baby, TRY and walk with a bullet in your spine. Sucka.

  4. sundry on November 11th, 2007 6:37 pm

    What a COINCIDENCE, Victoria, that’s just what JB’s been doing all weekend. You must surely approve. ; )

  5. Penny on November 11th, 2007 9:17 pm

    I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the bible. I might point out at this juncture I am a Pastor, so it’s most beneficial that I do have faith in all those things. It would be easier to tell you what I do not believe. I do not believe that we should judge others for having other or alternative beliefs than our own. I do not believe that anyone is perfect and that is really okay. I do not believe in choking people with what you believe. Share with them when the time is right but not critically. I believe in love. I believe in grace and forgiveness and striving to be the best person you know how to be. I believe in laughter, joy, fullness of life. I believe everyone is blessed even if they do not know it. In short, I believe that God is real and heaven is real and it is our jobs to find our own niche in the truth of love, God, and religion (for lack of a better word).

  6. Deanna on November 12th, 2007 6:21 am

    What you said about living in the moment struck home. My grandfather in law and my grandmother both died with Alzheimers. My sis & I think our mom might be showing some early signs. Hubby and I have talked about the power of your genes and how we are both going to be lucky if we dodge this bullet in old age.
    I guess this is kinda why I take so many photos of the commonplace- a meal my mother in law cooks, my mom smooching the baby, 2 kids sleeping sweetly, the papayas on the tree, hubby mowing the grass. I scrapbook (and am always behind) to try and retain these everyday memories.
    My Autistic son has taught me to relish and savor the here and now. It is always amazing to me how each day is a new “do over” for him. Tommorrw will come and it might suck but right at this moment- breathe and smile.

  7. stephanie brown on November 12th, 2007 7:11 am

    Oh boy. I need to get better at answering this question. I’ve only, within the last year, started living out the life that I’ve been claiming since childhood. I’ve always claimed to be a Christian, I just never really realized what that meant for me personally. Now I basically live by the Christian “standard”. I don’t like calling myself a Christian because of the stereo-types that have become associated with that name/title. So basically what I do is live my life the way that I think a Christian is supposed to and worry about all the other crap later. In my church we are studying the book of Acts (where the term “Christian” first shows up)and that is basically what I strive to be like, the original Christians.

  8. Kristen on November 12th, 2007 9:14 am

    After a really bad weekend that included breaking up with my boyfriend of 5 years, this post really spoke to me. I feel like I’m starting my life over on this shitty rainy Monday, and when I read this, I realized that every day is worth living, because of those tiny starbursts of happiness. What I’m trying to say is Thank you Linda, for writing this.

  9. anonymous on November 12th, 2007 9:43 am

    So much for kindness to animals

  10. AZslick on November 12th, 2007 10:16 am

    I believe in God and God’s Grace and Love. After being raised atheist/agnostic (depending on which parent I was discussing things with) I have found it impossible to rationalize the incredible aspects of my life experiences without resorting to calling them blessings.

    I am loved by many friends and family, I am rich beyond reason both monetarily and spiritually, I am healthy and happy.

    I question my commitment to my beliefs constantly, but what I find that if I don’t believe in God’s Grace then I have to believe that either

    a) I’m randomly selected to be rich, loved and happy

    or

    b) I DESERVE it because I’m smarter than everybody, or my nationality or my racial background is superior, and/or because I’m all around superior person than most of the rest of humanity. This a dangerous mindset to be in and can lead to its extreme to the type of behavior that starts World Wars

    So because I reject the other explanations for my abundance of riches I return to my belief in God’s Grace and Love

    Thanks for letting me share. Last week I saw a sunset where the setting sun was reflecting off the Pacific and projecting its strong light on to the underside of clouds over the mountains between the ocean and SF Bay which then reflected back down onto the mountains. Each cloud,tree and ridgeline absolutely glowed in the unreal pinkish-orange light. And although my scientific mind went through the rational explanation involving reflection, refraction, diffraction and diffusion, at the end I just said Thank you God

  11. dani on November 12th, 2007 10:17 am

    i believe in many things. among them helping others. and well, speaking up.

    so to the first amy who commented here. the one who is having a crisis of faith:

    please know that you can “be fruitful and multiply” without ever giving birth. you can help those in need. you can share yourself and your blessings. and while it’s got to be dang hard to want a child and not have one, you MUST KNOW you are no less of a woman for not having one.

  12. Kristie on November 12th, 2007 12:30 pm

    I believe in so many things. I may have to jump start a new post to answer this question. Otherwise it might be a really long comment. One thing I belive in though, is the healing power of children. They make a bad day better, always.

  13. Jo on November 12th, 2007 2:36 pm

    I believe that everything happens for a reason. Over the last year I’ve been mending from a messy breakup (I know how you’re feeling Kristen) and that pretty much sums up how I’ve tried to cope.

    I believe in karma too, you get back what you give out.

    And I love ‘Desiderata’, it seems to say it all very well…

    Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
    and remember what peace there may be in silence.
    As far as possible without surrender
    be on good terms with all persons.
    Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
    and listen to others,
    even the dull and the ignorant;
    they too have their story.

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
    they are vexations to the spirit.
    If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain and bitter;
    for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
    Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

    Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
    it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
    Exercise caution in your business affairs;
    for the world is full of trickery.
    But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
    many persons strive for high ideals;
    and everywhere life is full of heroism.

    Be yourself.
    Especially, do not feign affection.
    Neither be cynical about love;
    for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
    it is as perennial as the grass.

    Take kindly the counsel of the years,
    gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
    Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
    But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
    Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
    Beyond a wholesome discipline,
    be gentle with yourself.

    You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

    Therefore be at peace with God,
    whatever you conceive Him to be,
    and whatever your labors and aspirations,
    in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

    With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
    it is still a beautiful world.
    Be cheerful.
    Strive to be happy.

  14. biscuit on November 12th, 2007 4:44 pm

    I believe everything really is going to be OKAY.

    I also believe that “bad things” in life are really just lessons learned.

    God only gives you what you can handle.

    I’m watching a show tonight on Bio @ 9pm central time about near death experiences, people (including children) discussing what happened when they were clinically dead.

    You should watch it too…. I believe. :)

  15. breckgirl on November 12th, 2007 5:08 pm

    I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I am a Christian, and I am not ashamed to call myself that because I know what that word means, despite what the media has made it out to mean. God’s heart is always open and He desperately wants each of us to choose Him – it doesn’t just happen to you when you start going to church. It is a conscious commitment that you make to God. I had a friend recently who made a flip comment about how I was “awfully confident” about going to heaven. I wish I had responded to her email but the business of the day was upon me and I didn’t. What I wanted to say to her was that we don’t have to EARN our way into heaven by ‘being good’ – it is not a point system. God’s grace was given to all of us through Jesus Christ – it was a gift. If we want salvation, we simply ask God to forgive us our sins, repent and believe that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God. It’s that simple, really. I wish Christianity was not so maligned because frankly, I wouldn’t be on this earth anymore if it weren’t for Christianity. It is really just about loving others and doing what is right in God’s eyes – and that is not hating people, as many would like to believe. I am so thankful that I have the relationship that I do with God because without it, I would be very lost and confused about this world we live in. Thanks for asking for our beliefs.

  16. Anna on November 12th, 2007 6:50 pm

    I def believe in God however I do have some issues with how many religions ‘portray’ christianity. I believe that as humans we all need something to believe it -whether it be God, motor sport or some Guru. if we don’t have faith in something then we lose our purpose of being here on earth. Its a tricky topic.

  17. zdoodlebub on November 13th, 2007 10:38 am

    I agree with Sadie up there…but I’m still going to church in addition to working in a church. It’s about community for me. Believing in the good intentions we all have. I do believe in God.

    I also agree with breckgirl. There is a lot of truth and beauty in Christianity. Unfortunately, a few bad apples and all that.

    It’s about love.

    (However, I also can submit to the idea that it may be just a coping mechanism. But if it is just a coping mechanism – I NEED it.)

  18. Anais on November 14th, 2007 12:49 pm

    I’m a spiritual person. I believe in God and a few other things in the “God department,” but I do not believe in organized religion.

    My philosophy is to just be happy, take every experience as a lesson, appreciate the small stuff and be kind to others.

    I’m really into art, which in my opinion, enriches every single day of my life. Like one other commemter here said, “I believe in art. I believe in creating something beautiful.”

    I want to leave my mark on the world after I go, so I create art to make that mark.

    Thanks for this post. It is a great read.

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