Life Isn’t There For The Asking.
Stop asking God for favours. He’s busy. So’s Muhammad. So’s Buddha. Have more faith in yourself. Make your own opportunities.
“Believe in yourself…and everybody’s hot.” Paris Hilton
I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase: “May God fulfill your dreams.” Think of all the good Christians out there, waiting for that to happen. I’m sure the same occurs in other religions, everyone throwing responsibility on the shoulders of one god or another.
Gods have a lot on their plates these days, mostly because we don’t put enough on our own. With prayers, we ask for big favors. We want things. The more we want things, the more we turn to some higher power.
As much as we want the answer, there is no sacrament, no biblical text, no word from the mount, designed to fulfill anything.
It doesn’t even have to be a god. Think of all those renovation shows where people get the house of their dreams. One program recently had an anniversary, saying they’ve done “over five million dollars in renovations.”
You can’t go wrong with a renovation show. Turn that dull, outdated kitchen into a chrome paradise and you might as well be a god.
I know people who find a new god every time they pick up a self-help book. “It’s all so clear to me now,” they’ll say, until the next book comes along, and the next god.
As much as we want the answer, there is no sacrament, no biblical text, no word from the mount, designed to fulfill anything. It’s a guideline, a bit of folksy advice. It doesn’t do your thinking for you.
Even the phrase “God will provide,” has been misinterpreted. No one’s providing you with anything. Opportunity knocks, you answer. Success isn’t heaven sent, it’s the product of lifting. We all need to do more lifting.
That’s not looking for divine intervention, that’s putting your faith in the local winemaker.
In Dale Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” he recounts a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden”:
“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor…If one advances confidently, in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
A conscious endeavor is a bit like turning water into wine. Jesus never turned water into wine. He simply believed that someone, seeing a bunch of thirsty people sitting around, would provide the wine. That’s not looking for divine intervention, that’s putting your faith in the local winemaker.
“Living the life you imagined” is basically using each day to move in that direction.
Opportunity is recognizing what’s there, and what could be there. In biblical terms, it’s saying, “I brought the people, now you bring the wine.” A lot of religion is quid pro quo. Get enough thirsty people together, add some winemakers, and pretty soon you’ve got a wine store.
That’s essentially all Thoreau is talking about. “Living the life you imagined” is basically using each day to move in that direction. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, but it does have to happen.
What stops us isn’t so much motivation as priorities. When we talk about doing something “when we have the time,” we don’t feel we have the time. We’re so caught up in daily rituals. We go to work, pay the bills, take care of our needs. We forget that so much of our energy is wrapped up in things we don’t need.
When asked what was the hardest part of writing a book, a writer replied: “Giving up my long distance plan.”
I’ve gotten emails saying: “You’ve made me reconsider my own life and career. I’ve thought about writing a novel, too. Maybe that’s what I should do now.”
How many start that novel, and how many go on some social media site, asking: “Does anyone know a good book on writing novels?”
There’s nothing wrong with learning the subject at hand. I’ve fallen back on books for as long as I can remember. But I’ve also known when to set those books aside and get started.
Frank takes his girlfriend aside and says, “How is it that everyone here is on their way to being somebody else?”
It’s amazing how many people describe their lives in a transitional way. One woman wrote: “I work in office administration, but am full of hope and imagination for something different.”
I remember in the movie Serpico, a woman is taking Frank to a big party. Everyone there describes themselves as doing one thing, but really being artists. Frank takes his girlfriend aside and says, “How is it that everyone here is on their way to being somebody else?”
We all have “somebody else” in us. Remember as a kid when you caught a high fly in the tip of your glove? You said: “I can’t believe I made that catch.” But you did make it, you were always capable of making it.
How many of us grow up believing more in flukes than ourselves?
Belief is all part of lifting. To live the life you imagine, you have to do plenty of lifting. It’s not always easy, but it is easier than you think. Here are some quick ways to get started:
Form Your Own Congregation
Build a circle of people around you who don’t want you to be like them. What you want to avoid is the curling team. They just want you to curl. The only encouragement you’ll get out of them is to sweep more.
Start With a Prayer
Start out saying something, like: “Please give me the strength to ignore what other people have, and concentrate on what I should earn for myself.” Then end with: “And thanks for not dropping a new couch down on my lawn.”
Sermons waste time. If you plan to write a book, start the stupid thing. You’d be amazed how many authors begin novels before even knowing what they’re about. Tom Robbins does it all the time. “I just let go,” he said in one seminar, “and see where the gravity takes me.” We call that momentum.
Never Be Afraid to Fall Asleep in Church
Our biggest fear is making fools of ourselves. Yet fools are more likely to prove people wrong than right. Everyone thought David O. Selznick was a fool for making Gone With the Wind. It broke box office records. As Charlie Chaplin once said: “Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.” He made some movies about that. They did very well.
Go to the Earliest Service
People who start early in the morning say they’ve got “clear heads.” Of course they do. Nobody’s ringing or knocking or blinking away on the computer screen. Noise is the single most important factor keeping you from succeeding. The second is eating. We all eat a lot. You should do less eating.
Stop seeking approval from others. Most people —your family and friends included — just want you to shut up and get on with it.
Stop Following The Masses
I just saw this on Facebook: “Be careful when you follow the masses. Sometimes the ‘M’ is silent.” That’s absolutely true.
Forget the Testaments, Read a Funny Novel
Seriously, stop with the “How to…” books and grab something funny. Humor reminds us that life isn’t terribly serious. It’s stupid, it’s ridiculous, it’s profoundly illogical. But once you realize that, you’ll find failure hilarious.
Robert Cormack is a freelance copywriter, novelist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (now in paperback). For more details, go to Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press.