So I’m going to break the blog-fast with something that seems like a little thing but which I think is actually super important.
Last weekend at a big music festival, a friend who ‘met’ me via my blog told me that she was pleasantly surprised to find out how much I like to party and play – the feeling she had from the blog was that I was someone more serious and spiritual.
This is an issue because a) it means I’m not fully showing up here (although that wasn’t originally the point of this blog, but as it’s become more and more personal I think now it kind of is), and b) I’m passively perpetuating the stereotype of the holier-than-thou spiritual girl who is disgustingly fastidious in all her actions (possibly even thoughts) and is totally one-dimensional.
The Party Girl and The Spiritual Sage
The people who think of me as a party girl would be surprised to find out about all the philosophical/spiritual things I’m into, and the people who know me through spiritual activities are sometimes (happily not always) surprised to find out that I love to party/swear/listen to heavy metal etc.
None of these things are mutually exclusive. I am not boxable, I am (like everyone) an incredibly complex, contradictory conglomeration of different characteristics, desires and interests, and I greatly enjoy shifting through these different aspects of myself, switching perspectives, experiencing myself differently in each, learning different lessons, and struggling to integrate all of these aspects into one vaguely cohesive life.
“Boxing” people is so old paradigm. Also, super lazy.
And increasingly, people say ‘No’ to it. Boundaries are being blurred, stereotypes are being thrown out, multidimensional approaches and interdisciplinary collaboration are in, and the value of individual creativity (inherent in our complex, contradictory selves) is becoming increasingly recognised and honoured.
The Trouble with “Boxing”
The trouble with boxing (defined as: the mental act of inserting a person into a particularly narrow definition of one of their apparent interests) is that it makes encounters with the wholeness of the person standing in front of us, very rare.
This is because once our brains have decided something (especially something which is going to make life more simple), they exclude information that is contradictory, meaning that the connection with that person will inevitably be more one-dimensional, in accordance with the box we’ve put them into.
Boxing is the cause of so much strife precisely for this reason – we put someone in a box and if it’s not the same as ours (assuming we accept that in this view of the world, we are also in a box), it creates a me – them dimension of separateness.
The Holier-than-thou Spiritual Girl
You know the one – she’s all floaty garments and perpetually smiling, often somewhat emaciated with a slightly distant look in her eyes, won’t touch anything that’s not bio/organic/fairtrade, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, does insane amounts of yoga and overuses terms like this.
This girl thinks she’s close to being enlightened but has actually just swapped one ego identity (identified as ‘bad’) for another (identified as ‘good’). These people are everywhere in spiritual circles and they make me violently nauseous, or occasionally (when I’m a little more enlightened myself ;)), prone to hysterical giggles.
I tend to find (invariably actually) that people who have no interests aside from spiritual/personal development take it (and often themselves) waaaaay too seriously. They always give me a strong urge to run away, which, if I don’t follow it, tends to result in incredible fidgetyness and the use of humour, sarcasm and occasionally outright sabotage in an effort to get them to stop taking themselves so seriously.
I absolutely refuse to be perceived as one of those.
Not sure yet of the implications but something will have to be done.
The Reason it’s Super Important
The reason I think this is an important issue is that these people are giving spirituality a bad name, pushing people away (like me, for most of my 20’s) with their extremism – and extremism is exactly what it is in many cases, which is just creating another us – them divide in which neither side ‘gets’ the other.
The world does not need more separation.
We (people who are interested in ‘spiritual’ concepts) need to remain grounded, available in ‘regular’ and even old paradigm life, to create bridges for people to access these concepts without making the whole endeavour into some weird, woo-woo thing reserved for hippies and people who take too many hallucinogens.
This, as I see it, is what the global spiritual community is called to now.