Get off your duff! A bit in which I share with the world how little faith I have... does that make me a heathen?
I have an friend who always says crazy stuff like, “If God thinks I need a new car, I’ll get one.”
To which I always wondered: “How does that work exactly?”
People pray for stuff. A better house, good health, a new car. I think that’s great. But what cracks me up are people, like my friend, who believe that if they pray hard enough and God wants to give them a car, he’ll just drop it off on their front lawn some afternoon. I mean, come on. You have to do some of the ground work yourself, don’t you? Like see what you can afford, go to the dealership, fill out a ton of paperwork, and pick a car?
An acquaintance of mine who is Wiccan told me one day: “If I just put some cinnamon (and other various spices) in a sachet around my neck, I’ll get a raise.”
“What?” I asked. “So you think carrying around cinnamon would actually ‘cause’ this to happen?”
She looked at me dumbfounded. “Well, yeah. In your religion you use herbal mixtures and do rites to attain certain things. Look at all you have as a result.”
I began laughing. “Look, I have certain ‘things’ because I work for them. I have been privileged to do so many things because when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I am a published writer because I worked for it. I have a house because I worked for it. I am married because I kept searching for that special someone. I don’t just sit down, wish for coffee, and coffee suddenly appears in my mug. If that were the case, I’d have everything I wanted and life would be boring. Besides, I don’t measure my success by the things I have. I measure my success by how hard I’ve worked, the decisions I’ve made, and the goals I have reached for myself – by myself.”
“You have the perfect life.” She shook her head. “You have to be doing something because I work hard, too, and I have none of those things. It has to be your religion.”
“What you’re saying is silly,” I told her. “You’re saying that a ritual or sachet will cause your wishes to come true . Trust me, it doesn’t work that way. You can ask your deities for a raise all you want. But they’re not the ones signing your paycheck so they really have no say so in the matter. What will get you the raise is your job performance, and your willingness to discuss a raise with your supervisor when reviews come up.”
“Deities can influence a situation,” she said.
“They can offer guidance on a situation when you look into yourself for their wisdom. That’s as far as it goes though.”
“Nonsense, you told me you cursed two people and they died,” she argued.
“I did those rituals to get rid of my own anger toward those people. What those people did were terrible things. Their poor choices resulted in harming others. They only got what they deserved. I call that Karmic justice. We all get what we deserve in life whether or not someone curses us.”
She changed the subject. Probably because deep down, she knew I could be right.
I get really tired of people who think that if they just wished or prayed hard enough, or if they mixed shit together, things would happen for them. Rituals, spells, and prayer in and of themselves, do not make things what they are. They require post action on the part of the person doing the praying and wishing.
Even marriage is only a symbolic ritual. It takes both parties involved to make a marriage what it is. Not some priest telling you that you are married and blessed by the god of your choice.
So to my friend I say, if you want to know why I have the things I have let me tell you.
1. I make goals.
2. I work toward those goals and make decisions based on those goals. (I spent my twenties building an immaculate credit report and oftentimes went without certain luxuries so I could have a house, car, etc in my thirties.)
3. I use rites as a way of setting my mind to something. Not as a way to get what I want. You don’t get what you want if you make bad decisions contradictory to what you want.
4. I follow through with my goals to completion. Sure, sometimes I’ve bitten off more than I could chew. Or I’ve made goals that I didn’t really take seriously. Those are the goals I’ve never accomplished, and have found that I no longer care to accomplish them. If you don’t care, you will fail every single time. So why waste the time? Drop that goal and move on.
5. Once I’ve reached a goal, I move on to the next one.
6. I have taken breaks from certain goals from time to time in order to assess my progress and to evaluate how important it is to me. This is why I took such a long hiatus from fiction writing. My goals changed, I accomplished what I set out to accomplish, and I came back to that goal at a later time.
7. I always try to remember that external influences cannot be blamed for our own failures. They can affect us to whatever extent we allow them to effect us. That’s a choice. Another friend once gave me the excuse that she could not find a job. I told her that was crap. She “chose” to not have a job. Otherwise, she would have taken a job at McDonalds. After all - a crappy job while you're looking for something better is still better than no job at all. You either take your opportunities or you don’t. Which leads me to number 8.
8. Many opportunities will present themselves. Take those opportunities that bring you closer to your goals and leave the other opportunities alone otherwise they can distract you from what you really want. I learned this first hand. Learn to recognize the opportunities you want, and the ones you don’t. Choose accordingly.
9. Keep dreaming and dream big. Find a way to do and get the things you want, make a plan, stick to it, and run ahead at full force.
10. Keep working and evaluating your progress even if you have a few failures along the way. Persistence is everything.
Basically, you only fail if you don’t try. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis. She discovered she felt much better if she ate healthier foods. When she doesn’t eat food that helps her condition, her health is worse off. She knows this and blames no one but herself for making the decision of what to eat. If you find yourself making excuses for your failures like: “God must not have believed I needed the raise, therefore I didn’t get one.” Maybe you should explore the real reason. Were you too afraid to ask for the raise? Too afraid to work for it? Too lazy? Get real.
I don’t believe in bad luck. I don’t believe in good luck. I believe in having the good sense and foresight to make sensible decisions, to define reachable goals, and to make your life what you want it to be. Each of us creates our own reality. If you’re miserable, you choose to be miserable. That’s all I’m saying.