Thursday, May 14, 2009

Of G-Strings, Geordi, & Goodness

May 11, 2009

This afternoon I find myself in a very nice coffee shop in the town in which I was born. It's a little cool, and it has clouded over since I took the walk in this morning. At the window-side booth directly behind me, two older ladies are having a conversation, which has included the topic of women's underwear, specifically G-strings.

"Well, they must be for the men, because they sure can't be comfortable!"

"I guess there's no pantylines."

Kind of an odd conversation to be listening to, particularly from two older ladies. Anyways, that's completely unrelated to what I want to write about.

The other night I came across the movie Star Trek: Insurrection on TV. The old Star Trek movies have been on everywhere, leading up to the release of the new film. If you're not familiar with Insurrection, which you can be excused for, in a nutshell it's about the crew of the Enterprise traveling to a planet with age-reversing qualities and trying to save the inhabitants from being re-located. Overall it's not one of my favourite Trek movies, but there's one scene involving Geordi Laforge that I really like. Now if you don't know who Geordi Laforge is, well that is unforgivable and I will promptly remove you from my Facebook friend list...But to provide a context, Geordi is the blind engineer who for years used a visor in order to see, and in the movie has upgraded to some sort of ocular implants. As the ship arrives in orbit of the planet, Geordi starts experiencing headaches and dizziness; obviously something is wrong with the implants. Or so it seems. The rest of the crew begins to experience age-reversing qualities. Captain Picard mambos in his quarters, Riker has new-found energy, which unsurprisingly raises his always high libido. But then there's the scene with Geordi. The screen shows him standing on a hill on the planet, breathing deeply and in wonder as he watches the sunset...with his own eyes. The captain approaches him, and Geordi tells him "it turns out there wasn't something wrong, there was something right." His ocular nerves had regenerated, he was perfectly fine. And there he was, enjoying his first sunset, drinking it up.

Geordi's experience in this movie makes me think of how it can be with many of us. Various things happen to each of us from the time we are born, all throughout our lives, and often we can get that unsettled feeling. That feeling that something is wrong.

There are many reasons why we can have this feeling. One might be an unhappy or unhealthy home life while growing up, where we can feel that things just aren't the way that they are supposed to be. This is perhaps the most deep-seated reason for many people's ongoing feelings of trouble. For some children, this can continue as they become self-conscious and start comparing themselves to other kids on the schoolyard. They see that their peers have more "stuff" than they do - nicer clothes, more popular friends, the latest technological items, and they surmise that there is something wrong with them because they don't have them. These comparisons continue well into adulthood of course.

Something is wrong.

Yet another powerful reason that people can have this feeling has to do with religious belief. The origin of life story that is set out in the Bible tells of a man and woman who had it all, perfection in Eden, until they disobeyed God. At this time God banished them from the garden. The thought continued, and is still believed today, that every man and woman born into this world ever since are "sinful." It isn't much of a leap for many, I suspect, to go from "Humans are originally sinful," to "Humans are bad at their core," to "I am bad." This belief can greatly re-inforce a child's, or anyone's, already existing belief and anxiety that things aren't right.

Something is Wrong.

Whatever the reasons we have for our unsettled feelings, if they remain within us, I think we will always be looking for ways to make things right. This is different than healthy ambition, or striving to achieve new things or reach goals. This wondering, wondering how we can make things better, among other things it robs us of being in the present moment. But that's a whole other subject.

How do we try to counter this gnawing feeling that something is wrong? Children may try many things, from being as obedient as they possibly can at home, to running faster or achieving the highest level at anything they do, at school or during other activities. Religious people, of varying belief systems, try to obey the rules they believe they must obey in order to be good, or safe. In this particular case, in regards to religion, rather than believing something because it rings true deeply within themselves, they are doing something else. They are layering something which they are taught is good, over something that they believe is wrong, or bad, and that belief is a lie that is covering something else. Their - our - very core. For far too many, this all becomes a race that can never end, a struggle that can never be won. It leads to an unbearable life. It's like having a cake in front of you that is really quite delicious, but for some reason you aren't quite satisfied with it. So you, or someone else, adds another layer, which turns out to not taste very good. It continues. You, or someone else, adds another layer. And while that may make it taste better, now the cake is far too dense. Really, the original cake was absolutely fine. It was good. Nothing was wrong.

Nothing is Wrong.

You are not bad.

You are good, right at your very core.

So how do we achieve this? How do we get to this place, where something is not wrong? There are many things that can aid us on our journey. Meditation, music, good friends and a glass of wine, spirituality, ideas from religions and books, etc. But I think for a lot of people, the moment you try to "make yourself a better person" by listening to, or reading, or believing any of these things, that can become just another part of the endless race. I think maybe the most important thing is to stop.

Stop trying to become a good person. You are a good person. You have been since the very second you were born into this world. Stop the struggle, refuse to fight that which feels wrong because nothing is wrong.

Stop layering things onto yourself, instead strip things away, and see yourself at your very core.

It turns out nothing is wrong. Something is right.