Five weeks ago I was stoked to be at the ranch and convinced that my mind was brewing on the quandary of which direction my life should be moving. Generally when I’m presented with decisions, I go with my gut reaction, knowing that buried in the deep, dark recesses of my brain are answers that I can’t conceive of logically, and a brain power that can analyze all the information available faster than I can list the facts that I’m aware of. If I don’t have a solution quickly, I generally let it stew, and eventually the optimal direction is made clear.
Instead of pondering beaches in Costa Rica in the fall or check-raising Jean-Robert at the Aria, my energy has been consumed by matters of the soul. A little over four years ago I wrote this blog wrestling with merging my spiritual side into my poker career. I experienced a lot of hurt from the Christian church and was very turned off by them. By 2009 I realized, after pursuing poker hard for three years, that becoming “successful” and financially secure for the first time in my life left me less happy than when I was penniless living in a tent. I embarked on a two month odyssey by motorcycle unsure what I was seeking, yet I found it in my mind with the stillness and loneliness on long rides. Then after 7 weeks on the road I returned to Custer County for the first time since 2005 and realized that I knew where my heart was happiest all along.
I took those lessons and insisted on balance in my life. I got into poker first for the freedom to spend summers in the middle of nowhere, to be able to take trips and experience life as counter culture to the 9-5 paradigm as possible. I did that for several years before anybody heard of me, and I knew that I needed to return to that balance. In these endeavors I fed my soul, and I returned to feeling like the happy Bryan that I missed from my early adulthood.
Consistently I have wrestled with these spiritual questions in my mind, and I have learned that there is a teacher in my soul. In the Christian church this looked one way, and when riding on horseback through the Sangres it looks another way, but there is a common trend in removal of the distractions of life to hear the still, small voice within. Is that voice God? My own spirit? Some other source of energy? Simply my own mind? I really don’t know, but the more I learn about the spirit, the more I realize that I don’t know.
This ultimately lead me to a major point of conflict with the Christian doctrine, or any other doctrine that claims that their way is the only way. I declare horseshit. This universe is so big that we cannot fathom it, even though it can mostly be explained through scientific means. How then are we as mere mortals to speak authoritatively on the issue of God, who most religions say is omnipotent over the universe? And then for one party to claim that they’re right while every other is wrong just blows my mind. It’s this root issue which I feel causes the issues I’ve had with the church and causes the judgement and pettiness that comes with the congregations.
I’m not saying that the church is bad. Honestly, if I had a family right now and we chose to be active in a church it would probably be the Christian one because it is what I am most familiar with. Just because they are wrong in certain instances doesn’t mean that they’re wrong everywhere. I think any religion needs to be taken with a certain degree of awareness, mostly being that a religion is man’s attempt to reach God, and being driven by a man we know that directions will not be sought.
I stewed on the topic of the soul for many years until I started dating Cory early last year. We both worked at Forest Home for a number of years having met each other back in 2000. We both experienced hurt and repulsion from the Christian church, but she had recovered and evolved much more quickly than I. She spent many hours of academic study in the history of the Christian church and basically pieced together the history of the religion, and how although much of it may be divinely inspired, all of it has been influenced by humans. Having a strong spirit within her though she pressed on, comparing the various faiths of the world with what she was hearing from within. It turns out that there are many common threads throughout the religions and faiths of history, and through that knowledge she has come to peace spiritually. It looked like a funny mix of Catholic tradition and New Age energy stuff, but it worked for her, it worked for her soul.
So I suppose the haunting question is what are we supposed to be doing? What is the purpose of our spirit, and what are the consequences? If I don’t believe that Jesus is God, does that mean that I’m going to hell? Is there heaven and hell? I’ve heard that the streets of heaven are paved in gold, but what does a soul care about streets or gold? Perhaps hell is metaphorical, and really if I’m bad then I’m coming back as a cockroach, which does sound kind of hellacious, but all the cockroaches I’ve seen haven’t seemed too unhappy. It really brings me back to a point of amusement because the unanswerable questions go on and on and on, but one barometer that I am well aware of is the contentment within my own soul.
I know where I feel happiest. I know where things aren’t good, and I’m good at getting out of those spots. Wendy believes that there are certain places in the world where your energy is simply naturally drawn to the energy of the place, and she would say that this corner of the world, the Colorado mountains, is a place like that for me. I don’t understand the explanations, but I do know when my soul says yes, you’re doing it right. Those are the times that I am happy within and out. That’s when I radiate love, communicating a contagious smile, and feel that I’m doing it right.
The very first tattoo I got is the Greek word agape at the bottom of my neck. I chose it because it was the word used to describe the way that Jesus loved people, unconditionally. It was something I wanted to spend my life striving to do, I saw it as the ultimate goal of Jesus and what should be the ultimate goal of the Christian faith. I regret the Ichthys shadowed behind the word, but ten years later I still strive to love others unconditionally, and have yet to find a greater purpose for my soul’s time here on Earth today.
I went to the chiropractor a few weeks ago for the first time in my life. I pinched a nerve or something in the muscle under my right scapula and it sucked. I had to do the roboto every time I wanted to turn my head. I saw this dude described by Barb as “The Magic Chiropractor”. He used muscle reflexology to diagnose where I had problems, put the arches of my feet back together, moved my pelvis, and popped a bunch of vertebrae into place. He said that his job was to put the body back together the way it was designed to be and then simply let the body heal as it is capable of doing. Relief of some pain in my muscle that brought me there in the first place that he didn’t touch came soon. Within 48 hours I felt the best I had felt in years, felling fantastic throughout my mind and body.
I have a hunch that my soul is a bit like my skeletal system. If my bones are put together the way they’re supposed to be, then everything else heals and feels good as it’s capable. Since the soul has to be the foundation of my being, if it’s put together the way it’s supposed to be, then won’t the rest of my life follow suit? The problem is, how do I put the soul back together? The more I seek the answer to that question, the more questions I have, yet closer to the answer I feel. I don’t know what I should be doing, but right now I feel like I am doing what I should be doing. I think that as long as I stick to that path I’ll be fine and the winds of life will blow me where I need to be.
Peace and good luck,
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