The Art of Being Agnostic (For a Change)

There are things we are famous for saying in times when we have to explain something unfortunate. For example, the common response after someone is asked “Why’d you do that” is usually “I don’t know.” Or, another one of my favorites is, “You have to promise not to get mad.” As if this promise works because by saying this, in fairness, most people are already prepared to be mad — and, whether we promised or not, usually, we get mad.

Back when I was a kid, The Old Man used to say things like, “If you tell me the truth then I won’t get mad.” But I never fell for this one. This was a trick and I knew it. I also knew The Old Man was famous for spankings. And I didn’t like spankings. I didn’t like them at all. I took a shot a few times and I lied. The Old Man was mad about this, which means the spankings came anyway; but the truth was enough to make him mad as well.

I suppose that as a kid, I was trying to save myself from punishment. But, if I have learned anything in my life, I have learned a saying that is unforgivably true—and the truth is you can’t save your face and your ass at the same time.

Perhaps I have written to you about this before but the saying fits here, so, without any further ado, I will mention this again.
My favorite quote from Mark Twain is “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”
And why is this? Why do we have this connection with being right or looking good? Why is it that our imperfections or mistakes are so guarded? We live a life where mistakes devalue us as a person; as if the fact that we are unable to see clearly or emotionally get what we want; — or, as if we cannot settle an emotional dispute, so therefore, we debate and we argue and we say things to win the battle. We cheat others. We cheat ourselves and in the swells of the aftermath, we blush because we know what we did (or said) — and yet, we do what we can to save face and keep from looking foolish.

The term agnostic has been used between myself and a friend during our long walks. We take the walks to keep in shape. However, the walks turn into deeper conversations about life and the way we live it. We talk about our connections with perfection. We talk about our connections with the outcomes that happen on a daily basis. 

Put simply, life is not always going to move in a favored direction. We will encounter hard times and hard news. We will suffer and we will fall and we will get back up and we will grow; however, growth is nearly impossible when we hold on to the anchors of that which holds us down.

Rather than attach to the passion of the news, my friend and I talk about moving and growing and how to flourish in all times.
Be agnostic.
This means having no connection or opinion either way. This means allow the news to be the news and if the news is unfavorable—then so be it. Let it happen. Let it turn. Do not engage with overthinking. If feelings occur, let them. If thoughts occur, let them pass. Do not dissect them. Create a pathway for a new happening and let yourself keep moving.

How many times have we held on to insults that no longer deserve our attention? How long have we carried the baggage from our past that only proves to weigh us down? How do we move beyond this if we constantly look for accountability? Or better yet, if we want to improve and look for the next window of opportunity, how can we find this if all we do is try to pry open the ones that already closed?

Life alone is filled with changes and miscalculations. This is true. In our course, we will find that there are days when the sun is out and the winds are warm. There are days when all is well and there are times when life comes to us without a challenge. 

Appreciate this.

There are times when life is the polar opposite. There are fights. There are brawls and arguments. There are problems at work. There is someone looking to trip you so that you fall and they can use your back as a boost to elevate themselves. I agree. This happens.

To be agnostic is not to be unexcited or passionless. Nor is this an allowance to be taken advantage of. Instead, this is permission to continue and move forward to improve. Instead, this allows the unfavorable moments to pass so that when the windows of opportunity open again— at least now we can savor the good events without holding grudges or lamenting about our past.

For a long time, there were a few people who I had planned to remind that I was still around; that I did not quit, I did not give up, and like it or not, I was still in business (so-to-speak). So long as I held this energy, I felt this energy; which means that I felt my resentments on a daily basis. This means I lived in them. In fact, I bathed in them. I say I bathed in them, but yet; I never came out clean. No more.

I was at a zoom meeting and a few of those people were on the same call. I smiled to myself because at one point, I swore that I was going to make my presence known. But I didn’t. I was agnostic. I was neither for or opposed and neither holding resentment or letting this go. I was even with the people in attendance. I was balanced. But more, I learned that I no longer had to save my face. I didn’t have to blush or defend myself. I was fine to be me. I suppose they were fine to be them. But more than anything; I learned that they are none of my business and I am none of theirs. 

The best lesson I learned is that life is going to happen whether we let it or not. To me, I just save a lot more energy when I accept what I cannot change and change what I can. 

It works!

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