So it was a run of my younger daughter’s grad, my birthday, my older daughter’s birthday, my sister’s birthday and Father’s Day, all in the span of slightly more than two weeks. If you are what you eat, I am currently seventy percent frosting and forty percent merlot. Yes, I can do math, and I know there’s an extra ten percent in there, but jeepers, thanks for pointing it out. Thigh gaps are so 2018, aren’t they? In the spirit of efficiency, we piled, into our weekly family night, the celebrating of 2 birthdays and Father’s Day with takeout and a movie in the living room. My eldest was gifted the “trust me”, aka she got dibs on movie choices, given that her 21st birthday trumped the other occasions, and because, well that’s what makes you happy when you’re a parent; making them happy. She chose a quirky little Indie film with no big names. Well, except Seth Rogan. And Jonah Hill. And James Franco. And Daniel McBride. And Jay Baruchel. And Michael Cera. And Rhianna. And Channing Tatum. And Emma Watson. Correct I was employing the device of irony, to illustrate just how Hollywood this film was. But it was also a spoof on Hollywood-ness. And, well, it was hella funny, if you ask me. I mean, we were ‘laughing so hard we were missing the next joke’ level funny.
I love movies for entertainment, but I also find all kinds of spiritual and emotional insight in movies. Those of you who have worked with me have no doubt heard me reference some favourite scenes, and themes, because they are great teaching tools. The artistic process often channels profound truths, not always intentionally, but they affect us because we feel movies. They impact us emotionally. That is their job. Blah blah deep thoughts blah, bring back the cake and wine, right?
This is the part where I am gonna jump scare you with a SPOILER ALERT. You can read this blog, and this movie will still be a thousand times worth seeing if you need to lighten up and have a good laugh. BUT I cannot promise that you won’t know some things about the plot that you might otherwise have had to guess at a little longer. The film is entitled “This is the End”. And it’s about some Hollywood friendships tested if you will by the advent of Judgment Day. It entails much star studded humour on good versus evil. Warning given, I want to skip ahead to this bit where tunnels of blue light function as a protective force field and suck up good folks into heaven, while the rest “not so good” ones are left in a sort of fire and brimstone Jurassic Park, with evil beasts running amok and eating the damned.
NOW, pay attention kids, to GET sucked up, to get your passage to heaven, you have to have done some good, which is tantamount to selflessness, or at least a comedic take on notions of selflessness. You put someone else’s needs before your own. You engage in a heroic act. Once the blue light has sucked you up, you are safe from the beasts. Nothing can penetrate your force field. You just enjoy the ride to fluffy clouds and angels.
So let’s talk about THAT. Because it’s funny for a reason. Because we are all walking around with some kind of inner dialogue going on that RESEMBLES that movie. We are constantly negotiating ideas of “good-person-ness”, in an invisible down-low, usually hidden from even ourselves kind of way, which sounds a lot like: A good person would, as a good person I should, I am not a good person if, how can I and still consider myself a good person, I am so tired how can I be a good person, I’ll be a better person. Sometimes we shovel the neighbour’s sidewalk or buy that coffee for the Joe ahead of us in line. Cue the Tim Horton’s commercial where the little kid is knighted for spending his allowance on cheering up strangers. It’s not that the kid isn’t sweet, blah blah blah. BUT we are taught to glorify acts of service. Selflessness. Self sacrifice. Putting other’s needs first. Then there is this whole SWING to the other side of the pendulum, and we are told that to be healthy, we need to “fasten our own oxygen mask”, practice self love and self care, have boundaries, just say no, stop apologizing. The best holy high has us walking around martyring ourselves, filling our resume with peace missions, burlap sack wearing and saving the poor, while hanging our heads because we really should put ourselves first and practice some self help, but aww shucks, we are so mother loving good that we just can’t help ourselves from indulging in yet one more sacrifice (sing choirs of angels, sing!)
I mean, is anyone getting sucked up into heaven for having a spa day?
And then there’s the critical voice, the debunker that says you can’t just gloss over all of your shitty selfishness or ‘less than saintliness’ with a coffee for the dude in front of you in line, who, chances are can afford his own coffee. Again, I am not hating on the neighbourly coffee buying. You know random acts of kindness can connect people, and spread joy. I’ll concede this much. The debunker calls us out in a deeper way. What is our footprint? Are we a hypocrite, complaining about X while we fail to perfect Y? Do we care about superficial things, like our clothing, and our houses? The debunker is the edgy cool do-gooder who doesn’t draw attention to himself, except the intense brooding stare of superiority and the vegan pleather jacket with the collar turned up, and the ethical piercing, you don’t want to know where. By design, we’re never going to know more, or measure up.
So, how do we win the good person award? How do we compete with Mother Theresa?
Is Ned Flanders funny to us, because we are all assholes, who are never getting a seat on that blue light tunnel bus? Should we say to hell with it, and roll about in some seasoning, so that at least the evil beast gets a good meal as he consumes our eternally self serving flesh and soul?
Is SACRIFICE noble? Does it do anything for us? Is it tantamount to goodness, or a measure thereof?
What if you are a certifiable do-gooder kind of good person. Does that make me a dick for stealing your thunder?
Well I am gonna give you the low down on the lowly, with which you can do with whatever you please. Here goes:
THERE IS A BLUE LIGHT!!!!!!!!!
It’s not a reward light.
We don’t get into the heaven tunnel for putting others first.
The heaven tunnel, is a thing that happens when we feel GOOD enough, SAFE enough, FULL enough, JOYFUL enough, to share. It is our proverbial cup flowing over. And you can’t should your way into that feeling. Except to say that we should all get to have some of it. It’s not something you can good person your way into either. There is no switch to flip. When we feel overflowing well being, we want to share it with others, and this creates connection, to one another, to divinity. And that connection ITSELF, is a veritable force field. We enter into the state of union brought on by our overflowing cuppeth, we share and connect and this trifecta of goodness is like a positive feedback loop that can’t be fucked with. Ego can’t touch us. Fear doesn’t touch us. We can’t see suffering. Our golden goodness “vibes” magnify and flow back to us.
In other words, our goodness points are not for sacrificing for others, they are from giving to others, and they are not a reward, but a measure of all good things from the inside out. You have to HAVE, before you can GIVE.
Saints seem saintly to us, because without that overflowing cup, without the big expansiveness within, it feels like a real hardship to have to give of oneself. It feels like a sacrifice to overlook what is unsightly in others, let alone to devote one’s life to helping them. But when you are brimming with love, and you SEE them as your loving brothers and sisters, shining out pure love at you, well it feels pretty fun to hang around with them and share the Kombucha and the Kumbaya.
And guess what. I have some news for you. You, with all of your Shitty Person points calculated by you, and your Hope I’m Enough points, calculated by you, and your Trying to Care or Not Care points, calculated by you, and your Random Acts of Kindness points, calculated by you, are really, actually, wait for it…
You are she.
You are already a saint.
Inside you, is a place of overflowing lovey dovey ness, that rivals all the big names under heaven. Yes, even you sarcastic bitches. Even you Prince Charming, who laid it on thick to win her affection, then lost interest, again. You, who sent the birthday card late. You who forgot to brush the dog’s teeth. You, too.
So how to you pay that place a visit, and come back with a golden egg?
Well here’s where the judgment part of judgment day comes in.
There is a noxious gas that clouds your vision, on any given day. It disorients you:
Your best friend is tiny and perfect and things come so easily to her, and she can eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound and you work so hard and can’t walk sideways or tippy toe near a potato chip without your jeans getting tight.
You want so badly to move your life forward, but it feels like every problem is balanced precariously on the heels of another problem, like that game of pick up sticks, and if you move one of them the whole thing is gonna crash and burry you in bonfire kindling.
The rest of the world has their finances in order, pays their bills on time, have actual RRSP’s and other acronyms that you have never even heard of, while you can’t get through to your next pay cheque or made a dent on the credit card.
You have taken the high road so many times. You have given so completely to those you love. You have dug so deep, and yet no one sees it. How you have triumphed through your struggles. No one sees your goodness. Or maybe your bestie does, but then there are all of these people who think you’re just a screw up. Crazy. Invisible.
The haves and have nots. The do and do nots. The us and thems. This is the nature of our poison gas. To separate. To divide. To make us feel like less so we compete for more. To make us feel like less so that we distance and isolate. To make victims and perpetrators out of all of us. We roll in and out of each scenario pitted against one another. No one is safe.
Bodies and faces and bank accounts and lives and problems and hardships and attitudes and privileges, and luck and lack and abundance and pain and illness and triumph and success.
This poison shows us unfairness and injustice. It calls us to overcome and what we must overcome is another’s successes. We are expected to rise above everyone else. The Hunger Games, only the death is another’s failure to win.
This poison, is called judgment. The call of judgment clouds our judgment, if you will. It is a drug with deleterious effects. It is an insanity. We are all capable of hurting one another. We are all frenemies. We come into the world drunk on it and addicted to it.
If we want to know our inner saint, if we want the blue tunnel force field protecting us from the dripping jaws of cannibalistic beasts? Well we need to stop breathing in these fumes. Poison is addictive. You don’t know it’s poisoning you. It wants itself, and it compels you to seek more of it. It weakens you. It weakens us. It weakens the force field of love.
Think about the feeling you have when you have a big win. Some amazing news. An entire problem just solved. A big cheque that is enough to share. A kindness that touches somewhere deep. When you feel GOOD about yourself. Who do you want to share the news with? Who do you want to help? THAT is your inner Mama T. When you feel that great, you see the good in others. You reach for others. You want to share and connect. You can afford to be benevolent. You are breathing in love.
That feeling you have when someone wrongs you? And you’re really indignant? And you want to call them out, to whomever is sitting in the passenger seat and watched that accident nearly happen. To your bestie, or your homey, or your sister who knows how hard you try and how good you are and how you didn’t deserve to be rejected by that woman, or that boss, or that client, or even that friend. And the more you dish out the more you end up defending yourself because the nature of attack is to make you feel attacked, because it doesn’t feel good no matter how much it hurts? Well, that is our poison, judgment at work. It is the breath of fear.
How do we get to all the HAVING, then?
How do we see straight when we are hanging upside down and backwards and stoned on ugly juice?
Well we have to start by taking our faith, our allegiance, our trust, our security, and our investment, OUT of that which divides us, and put it elsewhere.
I’m not asking that you whip out your book of holy blessings next time someone calls you an asshole, or accuses you of not doing 1002 things in a day when you have clearly done 1001 at a level of performance they have never come close to, or when you have done 999 and you feel SO GUILTY already about the other goddamned 3 that keep eluding you. But I am asking you to STOP, just for a second, an itty bitty teensy weensy instant, and ask your inner Mama T to handle shit. ASK her for just one instant, to show you how this all looks without the POISON. Just say no to the drug that you didn’t even know you were inhaling.
It smells really good, kind of like nail polish or gasoline at the pump, but the only version of you that wants it is the scrappy hungry one, who lives in hell and needs a fix, NOT the happy full one.
When you can’t find your bearings, ASK, to see it differently.
There must be a better way. All healing starts with those words.
— Love Erin
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