Saturday, September 14, 2013


"That God does not exist, I cannot deny, That my whole being cries out for God I cannot forget." -- Jean-Paul Sartre 
These days, in my experience, there is no being called God,
But I have a yearning with that name—God!

It’s strange because I usually don’t name my cravings
—my appetite is no Andy, my sexuality not Sandy—
So is it appropriate to appropriate a proper noun
To this mystical desire for divinity?

A God by any other name would tell a tale incomplete:
If I called out for Truth, would I also find Love?
If I called out for Love, would I also find Strength?
If I called out for Strength, would I also find Hope?

Of course, when my yearning yells “God!” I find nothing and no one,
But the name rings a bell—
It re-members me to a time when He and I
Were together, when unity was simple, when “to be” was to be with this One.
But like that ringing, the name echoes and then dissipates,
And my call is simply a call, my yearning named, that’s all.

What if…
Well, how about…
What if God were not the name of a being, but instead…

An ideal place?
As in “Let’s find our way to the Land of God,
Where we will all be free and peaceful and creative!”
Or a band name?
As in “I play keyboard with the People of God,
Our tunes are soulful, and our harmonies divine.”
Or a dance craze?
As in “Let’s all do the God, oh baby,” “Let’s God again like we did last summer,”
“Teach me how to God, teach me teach me how to God.”

Or maybe not.

There is a state of being I’m desiring, a way that I want to be
In the world, in solitude, in communion.
And I want it so badly, and I want you there with me,
And, for me, the cry of “God!” expresses both the aim and intensity of that desire.
But there is no being called God, and a yearning cannot respond to my call.

So when that word escapes my heart, I realize that it’s because my heart is outdated,
And then the challenge is to develop this name into a fuller description,
And then I can explain it to myself and explain it to you,
And then it can become the name of a plan, a shared plan,

And then I can develop this yearning into reality.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stimulation vs. Satisfaction

Stimulation and Enjoyment
            I seek out stimulation and enjoyment every day. The best days are when I get that enjoyment from my work or from interactions with people. However, when I’m struggling at work, or am not ‘feeling it’ with people, I have ways of seeking out supplementary pleasure.
            Some of these are activities that help me feel pleased with myself—exercising, doing household chores, or pursuing my various hobbies, including writing blog posts, writing poetry, or making hula hoops. I enjoy the competence and self-expression in these activities, and the fact that they result in a product that I am able to continue enjoying even after the activity itself is over.
            The easiest manner of enjoyment is in consuming something, sometimes food, but usually entertainment. I follow a number of podcasts and TV shows, many of which keep me amused, all of which keep me engaged. But they do not satisfy—after I’m done consuming, there’s little to no “afterglow” of happy mood.

Satisfaction and Joy
            I’m thinking about this topic because I am seeking greater satisfaction and joy in my life, and so far I feel like I have a much better understanding of attaining stimulation and enjoyment. Here’s my current understanding of satisfaction and joy.
            Satisfaction is enjoyment that extends beyond direct contact with stimulation. If I enjoy eating, but experience hunger/blandness as soon as I stop, then there is no satisfaction, and I will just need to eat again. When I’m satisfied, a need is fulfilled for enough time to give me relief from the anxiety of seeking its fulfillment. In satisfaction, the desperate itch for stimulation ceases.
            I think people use the term “joy” in different ways, but I’m thinking of joy (could be interchanged with “happiness”) is a stable state of satisfaction in one’s place in life. I feel joy when I feel like I fit in the world. When I experience that fitness, I have less anxiety about trying to fit.

            I think the key term in this “stimulation vs. satisfaction” dichotomy is meaning. The experience of meaning can involve situatedness, depth, purpose, and connection. Activities that are meaningful make me feel like I “make sense” in the world. When I do my work well, I am pursuing my purpose. When I connect with people, I belong somewhere. When I tend to my chores or my arts, I am getting in touch with deep needs for self-care and self-expression. Joy and satisfaction last longer because they are “resonant” experiences. Whatever is meaningful resonates.

*This seems like a solid start to a longer analysis, but I’m not sure what. I’ll leave it here for now, and I invite your reflections and reactions.