The first step to entering the gift world is to admit that you want it. ”What do you mean? A world in which everything is a gift? Of course I want it!” you might think.
Yes! But do you fully, deeply, wildly want it– without hesitation or equivocation? Isn’t there a voice that argues that you shouldn’t want it? Does it argue that you should want more practical, more attainable things– like a respectable job, a nice car, some better clothes, a vacation? Does it suggest that your desire for the gift world is foolish, childish, pointless?
That voice is incorrect. It’s made out of the conditioned messages of the mad world and it is not telling the truth– you can know because what it says is not kind to your deepest self, the part of you that is a gift– your soul– also known as your genius. It’s not foolish, impractical, or pointless to long for the gift world. It is pure, wise, and powerful to want it and to want it without hesitation or equivocation.
Such a wanting is actually sacred because it is in accord with the nature of who we are. We are gifts. Each one of us was lavishly bestowed upon the earth. We learned as children not to want what we truly want because such a wanting went against the very structure of the society in which we were born– the culture of separation and competition, of belief in scarcity.
Our experiences– our defeats, the insults we received, the treatment we were subject too– all argued very loudly to us that the world we longed for was not possible, could not exist, and we didn’t deserve it anyway. We were taught to channel our desire for the gift world towards objects of desire that the mad world deemed acceptable: namely, individual signs of success, security, and power.
The matter was probably not helped much by the fact that our parents had lived through the beautiful opening and excitement of the 1960s, only to see it fizzle down into the Reagan and Bush Eras.
Our parents didn’t want us to be plowed down by the merciless system– they wanted us to succeed in it. They made sure we went to good schools, got good grades. In their own disappointment and lack of faith they encouraged us to play it safe and mind the rules.
Playing safe, of course, has turned out to be not safe at all. We’re in debt. Jobs are being outsourced. The jobs which still exist and which pay well demand us to focus our energy and attention on things extrinsic to the concerns of our own souls and communities. The system sucks. The mad world is broken, and playing by its rules to win its paltry consolation prizes for the life we could be living won’t satisfy our souls, won’t give expression to our genius.
If you’re an awakening genius, the more you try to play the mad world’s game, the more you’ll find yourself feeling depressed, blocked, alienated. You’ll struggle with addiction and chronic illness. Parts of your heart will be closed down and sealed off. You’ll be very far from bliss and contentment.
Fully admitting that what we want is the gift world and that what we won’t be satisfied with anything less is enormously frightening. It’s frightening because to acknowledge the truth that what the world of competition and separation offers us is lousy and to simultaneously richly embrace our real desire instead makes it much less easy to lie to ourselves and those around us that the mad world is okay, is good enough, should be participated in.
It’s frightening to wholly own our real desire because we rightly sense that owning such a thing undermines our ability to be successful in the mad world– and our sense is absolutely right. Admitting and embracing our real desire does undermine our false participation in a world that demeans and instrumentalizes us. The more fully we allow ourselves to know the truth about what we really want the more impossible it will be to keep up the charade of chasing money, prestige, security.
We may be afraid to admit that what we want is the gift world because such an admission opens us up to be mocked as flakey and new age.
Also, we don’t want to appear foolish and pathetic if the gift world never shows up for us. We don’t want to be sitting, left behind in the dust after all the others have trampled over us to conventional glory. It’s much safer to pretend that we’re okay with the mad world of separation and competition– even to pretend that we want to succeed in it. We imagine that to try to succeed in the mad world and to fail is embarrassing– but not nearly as embarrassing as longing for and believing that the gift world can come and then being disappointed when it doesn’t. This imagination is false because it belies the fact that when we desire a true solution and actively seek it out, that true solution comes. The gift world is a true solution to the wound in our hearts that comes from trying to keep ourselves separate and safe.
We might say things to ourselves like, “Yeah, it would be great if the gift world showed up in my experience– but I can make do with the way things are.”
Or we may say “I’m committed to succeeding in my career– but I’m open to the gift world showing up.”
We hedge our bets. We equivocate, in our words and in our action. So our world doesn’t change much.
I invite you to stop saying, “I don’t mind” or “It’s okay” in relation to the mad world. Those words may sound like acceptance– but they’re actually rationalization and denial. True acceptance is the acceptance that a greater solution is both desired and possible.
Let me put it this way– if you’re shooting heroin everyday and saying, “It’s okay, I don’t mind, I’m okay with being a junkie,” you’re not actually accepting the reality of your situation. True acceptance that one is an addict entails both admitting that the addicted life is miserable and insane and also cultivating the hope that a non-addicted way of life is possible.
So I invite you to do the scariest thing– admit that life in the mad world we’ve been conditioned to perceive is miserable and insane, that it’s completely inadequate to your deep longing and your wild genius. Admit that you are not content with a world of separation and competition. Admit that nothing you gain in the mad world can truly satisfy you.
Make it a simple choice. Decide which is more true:
1) I’m okay with the status quo
2) I really, really want to live in the gift world.
If the answer is 2), embrace it. Don’t be ashamed. Let yourself fully feel that desire– its scope, its power. Don’t minimize it. Let it be huge. Let it be holy. Let it light you up. Let it eclipse your substitute desires for power, security, and prestige. Let it lift you up out of your kitsch.
Image Credit: Photo, “Presents!” by queercatkitten, borrowed from Flickr under Creative Commons licensing.