Last night was Synphoria, the monthly creativ-spirit event that takes place at what is now my home. Some of the attendees are (any-day-now) trekking west to Burning Man. One of them, a hula-hooper, performed last night (I just have to plug another of the night’s performers HERE). The hoop whirling around her neck and legs looked like the Milky Way injected with adrenaline. But her finer performance was a dilatory dance with an LED rainbow hoop to ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’. At a point in the night’s events, they were all summoned to a blessing for safe and illuminating travels.
About a year ago, a group of people materialized at my then home in Herod, IL, also seeking a blessing for their trip to Burning Man. These were Rainbow People. Their bus ran on vegetable oil and their dilated eyes glowed in the dark like cats. They brought empty glass jugs and filled them at our subterranean spring.
I have to ask- what the fuck? Really, the same basic thing happening at two vastly different locations? Currently, I live above a perpetually congested three-way intersection in a multi-cultural neighborhood. The southeastern corner of Illinois where I used to live is closer (both culturally and geographically) to Birmingham Alabama than here. At night, you’d hear coyote more often than traffic.
Nevertheless, it’s uncanny how similar these two homes are. Energetically. Both are- overflowing with outlandish objects that seem to have heartbeats and watch your movements- apathetic to the liberal/conservative dichotomy- visited daily by variegated people with their variegated problems- run by individuals with no boundaries between art, their career, and the sacred- and are requisite stops on the way to Burning Man, apparently.
Not to mention- both of them drew me into their orbit. Why? While I haven’t been to Burning Man myself, I’ve had experiences that tuned me to this wavelength: visiting my sister in Boulder during high school clued me in to the possibility of living off the metaphysical grid, studying philosophy broke the humanist spell cast by Vonnegut and Zinn, as well as a half a dozen epiphanies (both pyschoactively induced and not) that pretty much speak for themselves.
Despite my awe and wonder, my M.O. is to be a skeptical realist (realistic skeptic?). Thus, my cognitive dissonance.
Part of me believes that I was brought to live in these two homes by a divine intelligence, if not a dumb but massive thread of magnetic copper stretching beneath the Earth’s surface from Chicago to the Garden of Gods through the Appalachian Mountains that go beneath the Atlantic all the way to Scotland and finally down to the Danube of modern Austria. And that this something brought me here to learn something very specific.
The other part of me understands nature to function according to cold laws which can only (appear to) be broken by broken minds- it considers my roommates, then and now, as well as Deepak Chopra, to be at worst charlatans and at best psychological mentors- it waits in the corner for my enthusiasm to subside and then ridicules me for it- it simply wants to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for myself (and others).
Yes, I am the faith versus reason debate on a micro-scale. Reason comes more naturally to me, but I don’t know whether that’s because it’s true or because it was the myth I was conditioned to believe in. [footnote] Rationality might be filtering out possibilities people not raised in my tradition are able to experience. It’s like how there are degrees of light existing outside the range visible to humans that are no less real. Reason, in this analogy, is a refusal (inability) to see outside the range of green and yellow, let alone the gamma rays Burning Man folk can see.
There’s also the question of whether skepticism serves life. Realism saps me of the will to live. The reasons it provides to live and grow are petty and vacuous. My realist self is both bored and boring. My imaginative self, on the other hand, doesn’t struggle to exert vast amounts of energy- existence isn’t a burden to it.
My question is, in the act of faith, is one imagining something that isn’t there, or creating something that wasn’t there but now is?
[footnote] Two senses of “in”. I believe in reason, and reason is the context/element in which I do my believing. Like how a fish both believes in water and believes in water.