Lately I’ve been exploring the possibility that I can suspend disbelief without choosing to believe. After all, when I go to a movie I don’t require myself to believe the story in order to enjoy it – but I do set aside my NEED to believe. Belief can shut a door to other possibilities, as can disbelief. By letting go of both, I can create an opening, a possibility and a sense of wonder, without requiring proof that something is True. When this is balanced with an initial strategy of realism, I think it could make for a better life for me.
Reality Based, Story Driven
First, I want and need to deal with reality…then, I can have fun with the story. If I don’t require belief, than I don’t require proof, and I can allow the things into my life that will help me enjoy it more, like faeries and witches and magic and even a goddess and protector and whatever else I want. When I go to the doctor today, who’s to say a goddess of healing isn’t looking out for me? Why not? I did the real world stuff – I am going to the doctor. Now, whatever makes that easier and more useful and effective and pleasant, the better!
If that means offering up a little prayer and setting my intention to remain calm and listen to my own intuition…so be it.
It’s been kind of fun. Even better – I don’t have to convince anyone or require anyone ELSE to believe…because it is MY story in MY head and it doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else.
If I believe anything at all, it is that we are making everything up as we go along anyway. In disconnecting from both belief and disbelief, I am setting my intention to move forward gleefully untethered and floating in the awareness that I know very little.
Allowing myself to acknowledge that “I don’t know” is incredibly freeing. I don’t know!
Say it with me: I DON’T KNOW!!!
I really don’t, and neither do you – about a LOT of things…heck, about almost everything. No matter how much we think we know, there is SO much more that we just can’t know a lot about. The smartest brains on the planet only know so much…and most of them acknowledge that the more you know the more you realize how much you don’t know!
But…There Are Facts, Right?
I think some things are provable, and some things are not, and most things we think we know we only know a smidgen of the whole, because throughout history human beings have BELIEVED they knew…until they found out a little bit more, and realized they only knew a part of it, or they were totally wrong all along.
Facts are useful in the present: objectively observable things about our shared reality. Real things that exist or are happening or even HAVE happened. But SO much of what we accept as fact is really just a story – heck, even the relating of the facts of an event by witnesses who truly believe they are telling the truth often don’t match up.
I’ve talked about this before and I’ll probably talk about it again, a LOT…but the story is usually the part that messes us up.
Needing To Believe Has Not Been Working Out So Well For Me
I have made my own disbelief mean that I couldn’t enjoy the ideas and concepts of the fun stuff – like magic, for instance. I’ve always envied the believers, because they often seemed like they were having a lot more fun than I was.
Side note: I don’t envy people who live in fear because their beliefs have them convinced that they are going to hell. I also don’t envy people who rely on their beliefs to dictate their actions and define their worlds without thought or choice. I think you should get to choose what you believe…for me, I like to get information from anywhere I can, and then think for myself.
I am painfully aware of many of the beliefs that I am walking around with that I don’t necessarily want and didn’t choose – like the belief that my illness is “incurable”. Unfortunately, I let that one in and adopted it as my own for FAR too long, simply because doctors told me it was so. It’s not useful and it doesn’t do me ANY good. Incurable just means we don’t know now…or “not yet”…and we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. I’d like to think that “incurable” is simply the best story the doctors can tell right now, based on what they believe, but that time will allow for a different story.
Choosing A Different “Belief System”
I think this next phase of my life is going to be a healthy exploration of not caring about beliefs at all. Practicing being open to possibility, because who the hell knows what’s going to happen next? We don’t know…we can’t know…so why not have fun and enjoy the mystery?
For instance, yesterday, my daughter and I were playing with the “everything happens for a reason” concept. It is objectively true – the law of cause and effect is pretty easy to observe in many cases, therefore it is easy to accept that everything happens for a reason. Most people that use this phrase, however, are using it in a more euphemistic context, often one with metaphysical undertones.
The fact of something – like getting a flat tire – is a small part of the whole. The STORY is what really grabs hold and defines the reason, for a lot of people. If I get a flat tire, and I believe that everything sucks and this is terrible and these things ALWAYS happen to me because my life just sucks…that’s one kind of belief. OR – I can decide that a faerie popped my tire out of mischief. OR I can believe that an angel popped my tire to save me from a much worse fate. None of these stories change the reality of the popped tire, but I can adopt one and play with it without needing to believe it is a fact.
Choosing My Story
That’s right – the stories don’t change the facts of the moment – I have a flat tire. However, they each affect the story significantly, and therefore how I feel about the situation. I used to think I really had to BELIEVE one of them in order to benefit from the possibility of a more fun and life affirming story, whatever it may be at the time.
I think now I will choose to change my story, and inject a little bit of fun into the narrative. My own journey could use with a little bit of lightening up – where I play with possibility, and stories that make my journey more pleasant. I am seeking out the more fun and fantastical perspectives…because why not? Why not have some fun with it?
There COULD Be Danger, If There Is No Balance
I think if I were a person who found it easy to avoid the negative aspects of life, this may not be a good strategy going forward. I think dealing with reality and the things that NEED to be done in order to live and function in society are important. But NOT seeing the negative side of life is not a problem I have.
It’s entirely too easy for me to see the flaws and the problems and the “down side” in any situation. I can project with ease almost any possible thing that could go wrong in the future, and I have examined carefully everything that has gone wrong in the past. I can easily point to the mistakes that led up to the flat tire. In fact it is pretty easy for me to stop there, get lost, and just spin on all of the “down” side of things.
Instead, maybe I can learn from them by acknowledging them, AND I can then decide to have some fun with it.
Dealing With Reality Within The Story
Sometimes we don’t have any power, and a popped tire is just a popped tire because we drove over something sharp. OTHER times, like my own recent flat tire experience, the tire popped because the tires on my vehicle were worn down too far, and they really weren’t safe to be driving on anymore. I hadn’t noticed because I wasn’t paying attention. I BELIEVED that someone else was taking care of it, and that was that – it must have been being taken care of, then, right? Because I believed that to be true…so it must BE true??? Belief had shut the door to my own awareness of the real situation.
The popped tire brought my attention to the problem with that particular belief.
When my tire went flat, I got pissed off and grumpy and put out that I had to deal with it. I admit to getting a little lost in the less positive story of WHY. What if, instead of that choice, I had felt grateful that the tire popped when it did so that it brought my awareness to the problem and I could deal with it while I had the money to do so.
Had it happened even a week later, I may not have had the cash to pay for new tires. An unfortunate reality of living “paycheck to paycheck”. So the story CAN include gratitude that there was money in the bank when this happened. The bald tires and my lack of awareness of them meant a flat was very likely in my near future…so why not embrace the “lucky it happened when it did” version of things?
Choosing The Story
What if the tire was popped by some loving, protective but a little bit snarky witch woman who had my back and had been TRYING to get my attention, but I had been ignoring her so this was her only way to keep me safe?
I would still need to take care of the tire, and pay attention going forward. Nothing in mundane reality changes, but my story about it and how that story makes me feel changes a lot.
I think if we let go of the need to believe a thing, we give ourselves the option to create whatever story is the most useful, or feels the best, or is just the most fun. As long as we’re not insisting on the TRUTH of a thing – as long as we don’t think we have to BELIEVE and force that belief on others…than who cares what story we tell ourselves?
I think balance is important. I think getting lost in the story – whether the positive version or the negative version – might make you miss the lesson. Once you get the reality aspect handled, however, what you do with the rest of it – with the story you tell yourself and how much fun you have with it…well, that is entirely up to you.
Did you ever play “make believe” when you were a kid?
A game called “make believe” – where kids (and some lucky adults) suspend reality for a bit and enter a world of fun and power and magic and fantasy and whatever they make of it. A blanket becomes a magic cape, and a stick becomes a wand. Play the game well enough, and for a while you get to feel good, which is good for the body and mind.
If you are really good at making believe, you get to have all of the benefits, and the good feelings send some of the same chemicals flooding into your system that would happen if your story WERE reality – at least, that is what we think we know about the brain right now.
You get to experience what it feels like to feel powerful, or feel happy, or feel at peace, just by making believe that you ARE those things. Just by pretending well enough that for a moment, you suspend disbelief and give your mind permission to accept those things as possible.
Then mom calls you in for dinner, and hopefully there is something yummy to eat, and you get to keep your magic cape on because mom thinks playing “make believe” is a pretty good thing.
Also – there might be pie for dessert. Oh, yes – the most beautiful pie with all of your favorite things in it, and you get a heaping huge piece of it because it is YOUR life and nobody can change that.
It’s your story – why wouldn’t there be pie? (or cake, or a juicy piece of your favorite fruit…)