My first instinct was to reply: “Well, for starters, you won’t be able to buy sunglasses off the rack any more.”
But my better self prevailed and I refrained from commenting at all.
Lemme back up a bit.
I’ve been mostly retired for the last couple of years. Of all the pleasures retirement can bring, the one I value most is having time to pursue my interests. Some of those interests would fit under the umbrella label of “metaphysics” which might be defined as a branch of philosophy related to the natural sciences (physics, biology etc.) and also to mysticism, religion and spirituality.
Most people with inquiring minds want to know why we’re here and where we might go next, if anywhere. For many (most?) those questions are answered satisfactorily by their religion or by science or some combination. Some are satisfied with the answers: “to exist” and “nowhere.” Some people don’t have inquiring minds and they try not to think about those topics at all.
I’m a bit envious of all the above. I’ve never been satisfied with any religion’s answers. I’m not smart enough to understand much of what science posits. Atheism doesn’t feel right. And my first words may have been “I wonder why...?”
So, throughout my life but most particularly the last couple of years, I’ve devoted a goodly chunk of time mulling and trying to forge my own path towards - well, let’s call it “understanding.” (In my Hunter S. Thompson-esque youth, I called it “plugging into the universe.” That still works too.)
And although I like to think I’m forging my own path, I’m not the least bit opposed to peeking at others and borrowing a directional sign here, or a nugget of knowledge there. No sir. Much wiser folks than me have asked those questions and left a breadcrumb trail to their answers.
Not so long ago, if I wanted to pursue this line of study, I would have to spend many years in a major metropolitan library and most likely have to travel the world to pick the brains of wise elders.
Today, we are astoundingly fortunate to live in an age where the world’s accumulated knowledge is gradually being assembled into one giant data bank which can be accessed by anyone with the proper equipment.
On the minus side, that same data bank can contain a lot of lies, half-truths, nonsense and insanity -- ofttimes at the same website.
Nowhere have I found that mix more in evidence than on some message boards, particularly those focused on what’s loosely termed “New Age Spirituality.” In my admittedly-short time visiting some, I’ve been struck by quite a few observations:
1 - Most members are gentle, likeable souls, tolerant and respectful of others’ belief systems.
2- Women outnumber men by at least a 2-1 ratio.
3- A disturbingly high percentage of the women tell stories of, or hint at, being victims of abuse.
4- Too many, though still a smallish minority (thank the Creator) appear mentally ill and/or emotionally broken.
5 - Predators lurk among them. A rudimentary understanding of Nature’s way explains their presence: There cannot be such an abundance of victims (prey) without attracting predators. I haven’t “made” one yet but have no doubt they lurk.
6 - Self- described gurus abound. Most parrot feel-good, pseudo-psychological, self-realization pap they got from some books or daytime talk show or infomercial. Most of what they spout is harmless, if occasionally nonsensical. Most are women and don’t strike me as Psycho-Nasty-Lesbo-Butches-From-Heck. So I don’t number them among the predators. (But there’s this one white-haired guy I’m keeping an eye on....)
7 - Sadly, people will grasp onto the flimsiest belief if they’re (spiritually) drowning. More sadly, they’ll cling to many different ones. Some embrace Tarot and Crystals and Spiritualism and Telepathy and Telekinesis and Voodoo and Paganism and Close Encounters With Reptilian Aliens with an addict’s fervour. Perhaps they think the more beliefs they can collect, the stronger the raft they can fashion in order to stay afloat.
8- Thankfully, a very few Science-minded folks (usually men) are there to question and to suggest possible alternative explanations for all those blurry photographs purporting to be faeries. Their comments however, are largely dismissed by the rank and file.
9 - People need to believe in something bigger/better/beyond themselves. That's not news but the number of folks seeking that something is huge - and growing, their numbers augmented daily by those disenchanted with "old-time" religion.
In case you're wondering, the 3rd-eye person was advised by one person to use certain herbs and by another not to neglect some chakras lest she suffer a disidentification with the material world.
As my ex-guru, the aforementioned Dr. Thompson, once said: "When the going gets weird - the weird turn pro."
I’ll probably touch on this topic again down the road. Maybe when I've turned pro. Right now I'm just a serious amateur.
For those of you not on my email list – I have a new blog which focuses on music and features YouTube videos of groups/songs I like. If that sounds of interest, I hope you’ll visit Frankie’s Jukebox.