Be Here, Be Now, Be Good

Spiritual Humanism, Creativity, and My Quarter-Life Crisis

I turned twenty-five yesterday. During birthday dinner, my dad asked me that anxiety-inducing question (no, not "do you still know the pythagorean theorem"): what's been your greatest accomplishment so far?

*For anyone wondering: no I don't, sorry not sorry.

As I'm sure many achievement-minded people feel, I don't think I've accomplished much of anything yet. It's not because I haven't done anything I'm proud of, but because I haven't yet created anything that can hold a candle to my larger ambitions. Any peak I've scaled so far shrivels in the shadow of the larger mountain of the future I'm trying to scale.

I've been reflecting more on my dad's question and my inability to answer it; and I remembered a conversation I had a few weeks ago with my new friend, Dorothy Lombardi, an actress in Mullingar, Ireland, and her husband Christophe. Dorothy taught me a bit about her faith, the International Church of Spiritual Humanism and, when telling me about her beliefs, used the allegory of the two wolves. Taken from Native American Spirituality (which she also studied), a wolf of evil and a wolf of good live inside each of us, and the one that wins is the one you feed. She went on to explain that we each have that capacity for good and bad--the stuff of the universe--innately within ourselves. And the connection we have to the divine; like the connection artists have to their characters, subjects, or audiences, is found when we drive to the center of the human essence.

The idea of drilling inward, rather than climbing upward, is maybe what achievement is all about. Dorothy's husband, Christophe, chimed in that glory, in art or in life, isn't about attaining some kind of holy grail, it's about getting to the end of a life well-lived.

So to answer my dad's question, I've "achieved" a level of holiness that at least leaves me hungry to continue immersing myself in the present moment in a way that only art can. I've gained the confidence to confront crossroads and choose to feed my wolves, not just impulsively obey them. And even though I haven't yet reached the top of the mountain, I'm having a hell of a climb.

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