I should be doing something. I have the whole day off and all I’ve managed is to go back to sleep after dropping Shaun off at school. I’ve also watched several minutes of Tik Tok videos. I blasted through two hours of watching YouTube. On my bed, lies my journal, my Dungeon Master’s Guide, and a magazine with an article I’ve been meaning to read for three weeks now. Yet, I can’t muster up the motivation to write, work on a D&D campaign, read, or anything.
Hell, the moment I turned on my computer, I opened Word then quickly double-clicked the Left 4 Dead 2 icon and wasted half an hour shooting modded hellish zombies.
Last night, the library held a book reading by local poet Edward Vidaurre. I haven’t been to many poetry readings recently. This year’s Love & Chocolate event was the first I stepped foot on stage in ages.
El Senor and Amado were also there. They were talking about getting the old band back together. I could be working on new material, but I’m not. I’m just here, listening to the song on repetition while writing these words and wondering what the fuck am I doing?
Maybe, I’ll take a nap. Figure some shit out in my dreams. Or, I don’t know, make an actual attempt. Maybe it’s just time to panic.
For Shaun’s first birthday party, I bought a camcorder. A few times at work, I used it to record our puppet shows so that Mike can upload them to his YouTube account. For the most part though, it just sits on my bookshelf unused. Its case has a light coating of dust which I brush off when I see it. I dropped about three hundred dollars for this camera. Now it just sits around, slowly becoming obsolete, much like its predecessor.
This morning, El Senor called me. I lay in bed, contemplating whether I wanted to start my day or if I just wanted to cover myself in blankets and fall back into a deep slumber. I realized that sleeping during the day leads to less dreams and thoughts about Jeanna than when I sleep at night. “You wanna get coffee,” he asks. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
I scramble awake and throw on my pajamas. Brush my teeth. Grab last week’s blue jeans. Throw on my TMNT t-shirt. Brush my hair. Give up brushing my hair and throw on my hat. I grab my receipt-packed wallet and grab my keys. In the time that it takes me to find my shoes, he’s outside waiting for me. I’m out the door, greeting my aunt as she watches my uncle and cousins fix up my grandmother’s once jungle-like front yard.
“Starbucks sound good?” El Senor asks. My heart is usually set for Moonbeans, but he’s paying so I’m not complaining. We go over the usual things. We talk about each other’s children. We go over how much we miss campus life. I ask him about the Ebola scare. At the coffee place, he orders his black. I ask for a cookie crumble mocha frappuccino. It’s too hot in South Texas for a hot beverage. Besides, as Monica lovingly puts it, I like my yuppie drinks.
We go over our creative projects. He’s written four or five chapters of his book. Once something is legible, he promises to send me a few chapters for editing. Since college, we’ve been each other’s reviewers because we don’t hold back. We spare no feelings between us. I can’t recall the several times I’ve grumbled under my breath.
I tell him about my unfinished stories. “I start them and then I just stop.” My creative mind has taken a vacation. Maybe it has something to do with everything being about Jeanna. I discuss that issue, instead.
I notice a young woman, maybe in her twenties, studying us as we talk about my pariahism. The assistant director at work has recruited me to wrangle up poets for our events. These people haven’t returned my earlier requests and invites since the mariachi and I got into it. “A mariachi hates me,” I mocked. “I’m living a damn Robert Rodriguez flick.”
I finished my drink and we head out. On the way home, he takes a different route. It has us passing the University of Pan American’s Catholic outreach building. Only a crucifix replaces the “T” in UTPA. “I have to walk this direction later and take a picture of that,” I said. And it hits me.
I keep the idea to myself because there’s still so much that needs mapping. First off, I have to search YouTube channels to make sure it doesn’t already exist. Because it’s such a broad idea, I’m sure it does already. The best part is, I now have a use for the camcorder again. Stay tuned.
The first time I heard of the concept – vocalized, anyway – of “all paths to god” was in the kitchen of a friend. El Senor and I paid Chico a visit after we spent some time talking with Reverend Adam Zuniga. And it’s strange to think that two worldly different people – Adam and Chico – could hold similar religious ideals. Chico called it the pigeonholing of God; Adam stated that one must believe in their own way. When you’re an agnostic like me – which is often referred to as a temporal agnostic – you’re pretty much that lone traveler on the road searching for a way home. Or at least someone to talk to. Every mile you step, you hope you’re closer to some answer, some guidance or comfort. We might not be looking to prove that a higher power exists or doesn’t, we just want to know the answers.
I’m generalizing a bit here – let me be clear to state that not all temporal agnostics feel lost. But it’s the closest form of agnosticism that I fit into.
Chico explained the pigeon-holing of god to us – El Senor, being an Atheist and I being Agnostic, this conversation was riddled with joke and what not. I only wish I’d taken notes on what Chico said, but the gist is this – everyone, deep down, whether they know it or not, worships, praises, and prays to the same god. We’re all living on the side of the mountain, climbing up to the peak. We might have different ways of getting there, but essentially the outcome is the same. Be it peace, heaven, nirvana, etc.
All paths to God means that all religions worship various aspects of the SAME God. Even the Christians worship only part of the one God. Here’s another way to look at this. There is a story of 4 blind men trying to describe an Elephant. One grabs a hold of his leg and determines that the elephant must be like a large tree. Another grabs the trunk and determines the elephant is a type of snake. Another grabs and ear and says that the elephant is large and flat, like a pancake. The last is on the elephant’s back and declares that the elephant is like a small mountain. Which one of these blind men is right?
Another analogy is to think of a group of riders going up a mountain riding donkeys — each donkey has a different name, but all the people make it up the hill anyway. So is it important that the donkey’s names are different?
In Huston Smith‘s words, “To claim salvation as the monopoly of any one religion is like claiming that God can be found in this room and not the next.” It’s an interesting thought, but is it true? Considering that Buddhists don’t believe in god, Christians believe in one and Hindus believing in several – thousands? – it seems like a man who’s decided to end the battle between religions. And as Christianity is on the decline and Islam is skyrocketing, it’s no wonder that this idea is still growing. No one wants to be left out in the dark with the “wrong” idea.
Mormons come into mind when it comes to the “wrong” idea, because Mormons think they’ve got it right, down to a science even. And I’m not saying that Mormon’s are wrong – though I disagree with them when it comes to several things – but they believe that they’re church is the church of God and of Jesus. “There’s no wrong way to pray,” one elder told me. “But let me teach you the right way.”
I’m reading God is Not One by Stephen Prothero, and while I tend to claim that religions – deep down inside – are essentially the same, the book has enlightened me that it is unfair of me or anyone else – doubter, believer or non-believer – to assume such things.
And this is where Chico and Adam differ. Where Chico claims that we’re all living on the same mountain (obviously, not his words), climbing to the same goal. His beliefs claimed that God has spread different beliefs to different people in order for them to understand. That meaning, each religious group was taught differently on purpose so they could grasp the concept based on past beliefs. Yeah, my words aren’t that great when it comes to describe other people’s thoughts.
Adam, however, states a more Buddhist approach to the notion: “We must make our own creation myth.” To practice a religion in a way that best suits us. Or to practice several religions at once – incorporating Christian belief in our Buddhist practices. There is no wrong way, in other words, as long as our beliefs and practices doesn’t inflict harm on anyone else – so no cults.
As for me, I’m still searching for some sort of comfort. Some sort of solace. The solace of knowing something that I’m not to know – technically, anyway – until my death.