This essay originally published in Spirit Guides Magazine.
We are a people who want to have our cake and eat it too. Spiritually speaking, this means we desire to live a high life of Love, but we also want to hold tight to our lowly ego desires, grievances, and fears. We want to be our highest self (Love-based) as much as we don’t want to let go fully of our lower self (fear-based), so we rationalize being a little of both.
As spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson likes to say: We might believe in Love, but we don’t believe in Love only.
Most of us do live life with this tendency to believe that we can invest in, and so be, two opposing things at once—as if fear and love could coexist peacefully. But that is the grandest of all the illusions. As A Course In Miracles says: “Commitment to either [fear or Love] must be total … Do not attempt to hold on to both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.”
I sure as hell lost the way. I tried to have my cake and eat it too, too. My ego spent a lot of time convincing me that I could be spiritual and material at the same time; that I could ask Spirit to use me for service but continue to first and foremost serve myself; that I could be pure and healthy all the while continually pouring my favorite toxins into my body.
But that didn’t work so well; my life didn’t.
It was so difficult for me to make the leap from the lowly me to the higher me mostly because, ultimately, I cared most about being perceived as cool, calm, and collected. No matter how immersed I became in spirituality in private, the desire to obey mainstream social norms and impress mainstream socialites held me back from actually doing what it takes to align fully with the great cosmic Love force. Jumping that jump seemed too terrifying in a fear-based world; clearing such a wide gap was surely dangerous, I reasoned.
I reasoned and reasoned some more. I stuck to the math and remained a fraction of myself.
I remained dull because the real danger—I eventually came to realize—was staying right there exactly where I was, stuck in fear, in mediocrity, in not-good-enoughs.
Stuck in being the tamed down version of myself society wanted me to be rather than the magnificent, authentic being I felt was desperately, volcanically trying to burst through my veins and bones and flesh.
It was a full-time job, keeping myself tepid.
A full-time job with no reward, at that—I obeyed all the rules and my life was broken, still.
In order for life to work, I’ve learned (the hard way!), we’ve got to do the work. To believe in “Love only” requires conviction. It requires risk. It requires discipline. And those are just not things that are en vogue in a non-committal, play-it-safe, instant-gratification world. But I assure you there are no short cuts; spiritual growth requires some heavy lifting. It’s a process of destruction before creation, of breakdown before breakthrough—and there are no exceptions to this.
It’s taken me a long ass time to agree to the hardship, to the discipleship, to the pushing the things required for spiritual growth from the periphery to the nucleus of my life. For-what-seems-like-ever I’ve been talking about putting those things—creativity, authenticity, forgiveness, compassion, Love, etc.—into clear focus, but I always stopped short of complete commitment. You might relate—after all, it’s not easy to bloom when vices taste so sweet.
And who can blame us, really, in a world where uniqueness and self-expression and creativity and everything that is of a spiritual essence are devalued? Lackluster is the way we are taught to be from a very early age, and, for the most part, we remain so obediently. From school to work to the corporate consumerism that cradles us, we are praised for remaining in bounds of the lukewarm. Too hot or too cold? Too high or too low? Too smart for a dumb-and-dumber society? Here, take a pill for that. Control yourself.
It’s not easy to grow in a world bent on wilting, no way. But anyone who has done it will assure you that it’s worth it.
I can finally assure you that it’s worth it.
And today I want to dedicate my column to saying this very explicitly: Fuck. Tepidity.
It’s time to set ourselves on fire.
Every day is a match most of us don’t strike.
We wake up, see the fire-starting stick on our bedside table, and tell ourselves all the reasons that fire is dangerous. Such cold creatures we’ve become, we forget how fire can warm us. We forget how warm we can be.
It’s easy to remember the dangers of fire because we are sold it every day. Practicality, reason, realistic—these are words that contain us to the limited view society places on us. But hearts are not meant for containers and the minute we exchange belief in limits for belief in limitlessness, we become unlimited.
Every single person who has ever been genuinely happy has, in one way or another, given the middle finger to that limited way of thinking/being and that’s a fact.
What happens when we strike the match from this place of Love and unlimited thinking? We burn down what’s no longer serving the highest good and enlighten what’s around us. It’s easy to convince ourselves of tepidity, of playing it safe; but to remember that sometimes things need to be wildly disintegrated in order to be built up right—that’s what’s difficult. And, as Rilke advises, we should trust in what’s difficult.
Rumi confirms all this rumination (see what I did there?!): “Being a candle is not easy: In order to give light one must first burn.”
Now when things are largely fueled by hate, it’s time to shine light like a motherfucker—to become as on-fire as we can possibly be. Cool, calm, and collected sounds nice but what does it really mean? To be collected? Contained. Why should we be collected when the world is being destroyed by hate? Why should we contain our broken hearts from a broken world? The tepid, watered down people are the ones who will ultimately allow the world to end. Who wants that to be their legacy? Not me. I want to turn up the heat of Love and burn.
Let’s not sugar coat it: The entire world at this moment in time, 2017, is fucked up and only getting fucked up-ier. This mess is the opposite of right. If you feel wrong in this world it’s because this world is wrong. If you feel depressed it’s because this world is depressing. Almost every facet, every industry, every angle is corrupted, tainted, cancerous.
We’ve become so hardened by hate, and now we need all the alchemists we can to soften things. We need to start collectively focusing on the cure to all this madness or else. And there is only one cure. And that is Love. That isn’t a platitude either—it’s a real fucking prescription. It is more than just posting memes to our social media channels. Again, it requires some heavy ass lifting to get into the place where we actually understand how to be Love.
But it’s the absolute best thing we can do with our time.
Until we eradicate fear and its derivatives from our mindsets, our lives won’t work, because life works fully only when in full alignment with Love.
Allegiance to Love in an increasingly hateful world is the point. The mark. The bullseye.
Let’s practice our aim then, yeah?
Can we just agree to be brave and shed fear fully, finally?
Can we just agree to the softening?
Can we just agree to Love?
When we put Love at the center at our lives, passion, compassion, and joy become our way of being, and so, we become on fire. And that is not scary; that is how wild, uncontainable things are meant to be—fierce, bright, free. Things will burn down, yes. But they are the things that need to end.
And then and only then will we rise up and desperately, volcanically, begin.