Random Neural Firings

the inner workings of a restless creative brain

Writing Challenge Day 3: One Strong Belief


Today’s Challenge*:

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?

(Author: Buster Benson)

Day 3 and already I’m stumped. Does a non-belief count as a belief? For example, I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, and almost everyone I know does. In fact, I think it’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, at least in the context it’s usually used, which is to imply there is some Big Grand Plan for everyone’s life. Who’s this grand puppet master? Who’s controlling every single car in Atlanta’s rush hour tangle to ensure that THAT red pick-up is at the I-285/400 interchange at EXACTLY the right moment and will decide to RECKLESSLY attempt to pull out of a lane of STOPPED traffic into an oncoming lane of 55 mph traffic just in time to SMASH my car? Really, it was when that happened a few years ago that I gave up on the concept of a grand plan altogether.

Sure, there are various versions on this theory. Some believe God is the invisible hand controlling everything and everybody, or somehow setting a chain of events in motion (over which we have free will?). Others believe it is “the Universe” – another way of saying there is some “thing” (a force? an energy?) that has a supreme intelligence. Still others believe that the individual attracts into their life ALL circumstances and events (I’m talking about devotees of “The Secret.”)

At one time or another, I’ve been all those people. That day on GA-400 when that guy pulled in front of me and smashed my car, I gave up. My first instinct was “don’t forget to love the guy that hit you” and “there’s a REASON this is happening and you’ll learn from it” was quickly replaced by a larger voice shouting: BULLSHIT. Sometimes, things just happen. For no reason. There was no lesson to be learned there, other than perhaps, to drive one lane over when I approach that exchange.

How does this belief drive me? Or how do I actively live it? Well, in a perverse twist – since this writing challenge is about reflection – I would say this belief has led me to be LESS reflective. Instead of twisting myself in a pretzel to figure out “why” all the time, I just experience what I experience, feel what I feel, and move on. Sometimes, I take some time to mull it all over, but often I don’t.

So there you have it: my non-belief belief. Things just happen and there is no grand master plan.

*I’m participating in a blogosphere writing challenge: for 30 days, I will be responding to a provocative question/prompt. It’s all part of a celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s book “Self-Reliance,” which I’m not sure I’ve even read. I ’m not doing this because I’m a big Emerson fan – although I suppose I’ll have to download some of his stuff to the Kindle now – I’m doing this because my friend, Alicia (here’s her blog), tagged me in a Facebook post, which is our generation’s version of a dare. And I’m never one to let a good dare go unchallenged . . .


3 Comments to

“Writing Challenge Day 3: One Strong Belief”

  1. On June 2nd, 2011 at 9:46 pm Alicia Says:

    I think you did remarkably well stating your belief, you non-believer!

    The search for meaning – or a lack of meaning – is a big and intensely personal one.

    When I was little, and I still believed in heaven and hell, I truly thought that heaven was whatever you thought it was going to be. So, if you thought there should be streets paved with gold, then like the loading program in the Matrix, you got what you expected. The people you expected to be there would be, etcetera.

    Now, I think that the search for understanding God, the Universe, or a big imaginary infinity symbol on every rock and every tree – that search is like my imaginings of heaven, but with a twist. I think we see what we need to see.

  2. On June 2nd, 2011 at 10:44 pm Janet Oberholtzer Says:

    Hi … found you via #Trust30 on Twitter.

    I’m with you! I also don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, and almost everyone I know does.

    The day the motorhome I was in met 5 semi-trucks on a highway north of Los Angeles and life as I knew it ended … is the day that saying started falling apart for me. It’s taken some time to untangle myself from it because it was almost part of my DNA from my traditional Mennonite upbringing and then years (too many) spent in the conservative evangelical Christian world.

    And I agree … since letting go of that thought, I find myself in a better place, because I’m not “twisting myself in a pretzel to figure out “why” all the time.”

    I wrote about it here …

  3. On June 3rd, 2011 at 1:44 pm Sherean Says:

    Hey Janet – Thanks for sharing. Love your blog. I often joke that I’m a “recovering Southern Baptist” because that was the religion I was brought up in.

    I could have added that it also drives me up a wall when people say “there is no such thing as a coincidence,” again implying that there is some purpose for everything that happens. And again, I ask, “who’s in charge” exactly?

    Anyhow, thanks for stopping by. Looking forward to more #Trust30 challenge buddies!


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