I want to start a revolution!
Photo by Clément Falize on Unsplash
When I was a kid I believed that God and I had a personal relationship. After all, I was one of the Chosen People. And even more special than the average Chosen Person.
I believed God looked out for me.
I believed that God communicated with me. He did not speak to me from a burning bush. Nothing that obvious. God was subtle. God sent me signs. My job was to watch for those signs, figure out what they meant, and change my behavior accordingly.
What kinds of signs?
Say, I didn’t do my homework. Say, then my teacher called on me. Then I’d look stupid because I didn’t know the answer. And then I’d feel bad.
That was a sign.
God wanted me to study. And I hadn’t. God had designed that whole series of events to teach me a lesson.
“That’s stupid,” you might say. “Of course if you don’t study, you won’t know the answer. And, of course, the teacher had to call someone, so, of course, it might have been you. And, of course, if you don’t know the answer, you’ll look stupid—because you are stupid. And, of course, looking stupid and being stupid should make you feel bad.
“No need for God in any of that.”
And I will agree. The explanation of what happened is complete without God sending messages.
If all you want an explanation, God is an unnecessary embellishment.
And Occam has a razor that says “Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.” God is an unnecessarily multiplied entity.
But what if you want more than just an explanation? I was a kid. I wanted to feel safe. I wanted to feel looked after. And I suppose I wanted a better story— one that made me feel special.
The story I told myself that God was sending me messages provided all of that.
Maybe it was just Dumbo’s feather. But so what?
Sunday, I went out to check on my boat, bent down, and felt agonizing pain in my lower back.
It’s happened before. Not often, but it happens.
I’ve got a bunch of tricks that always work. I little bit of stretching, some ibuprofen, maybe 15 minutes curled up in bed, and I’m okay.
I staggered back to the house, did my routine, and the pain went away, For a while.
The next morning it had returned, with double force. None of my tricks made it go away.
I spent most of the day in bed popping pills and distracting myself. By the end of the day I was well enough to get in the car and drive down to the chiropractor for an adjustment. It seemed to help a bit.
But the next morning (this morning) I got up and the pain was back.
Not as bad as the previous morning, but bad enough.
I decided to think differently.
I decided to believe that the pain was not an affliction, but a sign.
Maybe not a sign from the God I had believed in as a kid—I’m too sophisticated or too jaded or too egotistical for that—but I decided to believe it was a sign.
It was not a meaningless event. It had meaning.
Something, I imagined, was trying to get me to pay attention.
Hey, paying attention is not a bad idea, is it?
So why not tell myself that story.
The meaning of the message
Now what was I to pay attention to?
Well, mortality, of course. Pain and death. And the meaning of life. And gratitude for my generally good health.
All worth paying attention to.
And then I thought: I’ve got a few things that I want to do before I die, pass on, become no more, cease to be, expire and go to meet my maker, become a stiff, bereft of life, rest in peace, push up the daisies, kick the bucket, shuffle off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and join the choir invisible. Before I become an ex-me. (To paraphrase Monty Python)
I want to start a revolution inspired in part by this song (and its author.)
A revolution! Don’t we need one? Don’t I want to start one? I do.
And I’ve been given a sign.
I’ve been reminded.
“We’ve been called by coincidence, so maybe we’re the ones.”
Maybe I’m the one.
Maybe you are, too.
It’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.