There is a charm in the ability to simply “be.”
I wish I had known that as a Christian. Christianity comes with an inherent sense of lack – you are born into sin, and you have to apologize for your very existence (or “repent”) in order to have the right to breathe in this world. And even then, your life is supposed to be consumed with an overwhelming degree of gratitude that swallows the entirety of who you are and can be. Your life isn’t even yours – it belongs to some all-powerful entity you have never seen or heard who nevertheless thinks that you belong in hell forever if you don’t submit to him.
You can’t simply “be” in the world.
I think I made a mistake when I first left Christianity. For so long I had owed my existence to a nonexistent God that I rejoiced when I saw that I owed my existence to nobody. Sure, I loved people, but I didn’t have to apologize for breathing any more than a rock had to apologize for simply sitting there. I was as much a part of the world as anything else. And this led me to embrace the entirety of existence with an exhausting gusto and enthusiasm, like a thirsty man suddenly faced with a river of freshwater. I was obsessed with freedom, and overexerted myself in a desire to embrace what felt like lost time.
These days, the fact that I can simply “be” in the world is wonderfully mundane. I simply feel at peace in my heart, like most people do when they silently look into a night sky. I’m a part of the vastness of existence, and I belong here. Indeed, it’s difficult for me to understand my prior conviction that somehow I didn’t.
Yes, I enjoy discussing the intricacies of philosophy now and then. I’m an avid follower of politics, and I have strong opinions about how my country should be run. I care deeply about social issues, making it no mistake that I’ve been dubbed a “social justice warrior” by some. I am passionate about many people in my life. I get hungry, the comfort of my body is very dependent on my surroundings, and I revel in social connection. Sometimes I get the hankering to write out my thoughts and send them out into the internet.
But I also simply feel like I’m part of the world. I’m not involved in life to prove that I deserve to breath. I’m involved in life because I belong here and, as someone who belongs here, there are things in life that I want.
I belong here as much as anything else, and am fundamentally free to live whatever life I want.
When I was a Christian, this prospect scared me. Wouldn’t being free to live whatever life I wanted mean I would kill or harm other people?
Since leaving Christianity, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’m not hell-bent on destroying people’s lives at my core; I naturally care about other people. I want to help them. I even love them, genuinely, from my heart. Not to earn God’s favor, but because I want to.
I am living here, as a part of existence, making the love that is so beautiful to me a reality.
I am not created by some outside entity. I am part of all existence, and as a part of existence I am a creator of the future, of every moment. It’s a beautiful adventure for me.
The longer I live this way, the more relaxed I become about this viewpoint. I’m not running ragged trying to prove I can embrace my existence anymore. I am at peace. I know I’m here, that I belong here, and that this isn’t going to change. And from that place of peace and innate comfort, I am joined with the rest of existence in creating the next moment I want to create – without obligation, without apology.
Even in the midst of turmoil, it’s a wonderfully peaceful life.