evolution

365 Challenge: Day 40 – Spiritual

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Spiritual: relating to religious belief or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things

As I awoke this morning, my mind drifted to today’s topic, first focusing on the count of days. When I determined it was day 40, something about the 40 days of lent stuck in my head and I attempted to choose the best word to represent how I feel. I considered religious, but I am not prepared to go into all of those details, so I settled in with spiritual.

I was raised Catholic, as were most of my family members on my mother’s side. My father’s side doesn’t appear to have been all that religious. I attended church every weekend from about 8 until 21.

In college, I was a Eucharistic minister and worked in the religious center’s main office as one of my part-time jobs. When I graduated and moved back to Long Island, I stopped going to church except for the occasional holy days until I was about 25. I don’t believe I’ve been back since other than a few weddings and whenever I’ve been on tours or trips and make it a point to stop in. Nothing significant occurred to change my attendance, I simply stopped going. But I’m not planning to discuss church attendance. I am discussing spirituality.

I would consider myself your average “smart” person. I have some common sense, but also lack so in many areas. I’m book smart on a lot of things, but missing some key basics. I accept these things. It also means that I often, as I’ve noted before, have impartial feelings about situations and usually see both sides of the coin on all issues. Spirituality is one of those things. I do not know the history of all the major religions. I am not familiar with every major detail of evolutionary science. But there are a few things I believe I struggle with when it comes to “how did it all begin”?

I think of it like the chicken and the egg scenario. If there were no chickens, how did we ever produce the first egg? It’s a catch-22 for me… which came first cannot be answered in my mind, and I don’t have the energy or interest in devoting my entire life to solving that puzzle. I feel the same way about the creation of life. My mind has trouble fully accepting Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and natural selection. I understand it. I’ve seen it. I know things change over time. But have we truly existed in some form for billions of years, once as tiny little cells, now evolved into modern humans? What exactly caused each of those changes? I know there are tons of books and research to help explain the big categorical shifts and changes, but my brain is too tiny to really understand and accept how far we’ve come, or that so much time has even occurred.

I sort of feel like we all began somewhere around 3 or 4 thousand years ago, as I’ve read enough books and history to almost see those numbers are tangible and reachable. Then I think about the beliefs of Catholicism where God built the world in 7 days, Adam and Eve were the first people, Jesus died on the cross for his people and we worship everything in this realm. I have difficulty believing in something I cannot see or have never experienced. But the genealogist in me yearns to believe and accept that everything started with 1 man and 1 woman, and we all have a biological mother and father, generation after generation of human evolution.

Side Note: This is not meant as commentary on parents, necessity of a mother and a father, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, et al.)

For the record, I’ve always believed people can and should do whatever they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Therefore, don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t hurt… but what two other people do with their lives has no impact on me… plus, if I was against it, I’d be a hypocrite, which I’ve noted before. And a child needs loving caretakers to grow up properly… whether it’s two men, two women, transgender, a single parent, a grandparent… I don’t care. Love the child, raise them well and prepare them to be a good person who continues that cycle. OK, now that I’ve gotten that out there… back to spirituality…

As I’ve noted before, I always seem to feel like two people. And in this case, I believe both in the theories of evolution and those in religion, and I also have doubts about both. But there are many religions, each with a different take on the origination of it all. As I’ve evolved, I believe where I’ve ended up is in something more spiritual. It’s less about the specifics and particulars of what you believe, but that you do believe. There is something out there higher or greater than me. Whether it’s a God who created the world or is a scientist from another dimension conducting experiments, I have some level of faith that there is a bit of control being exercised.

Though less now than in the past, I find myself looking toward the sky saying “Help me out here.” I will on occasion pray for the health or improvement of a friend or family member. I will wish and hope for someone or something to give me a chance. I believe in past lives. I feel connections to things I’ve never seen before, for some reason, and question if it’s deja vu. The thought of people being tied to the land around them is comforting. The concepts of earth, water, wind and fire feel like pillars of our lives. I would not be afraid if I saw a ghost. I strongly hope for an afterlife where all the problems and pain people have experienced are gone, and everyone is happy and healthy.

The best word I can use to describe how I feel about all of this is spiritual. All that functions in our bodies is a physical component of who we are. But how we think, feel and process, though partially physical, comes from somewhere else. Perhaps it is our soul, perhaps it isn’t. But it’s that part of who I am as a person that determines how I live my life today and in the future. And that’s the part of me that has felt various connections to a multitude of things across the expanse that’s been my life thus far. I have appreciation for other people’s beliefs, those who are committed to their religion and all that comes with it. I accept and want everyone to have their own personal calling, whether I agree with it or don’t understand it. And I’d never tell someone else they are wrong for what they believe, when it comes to spirituality.

It’s rare I discuss these types of things. Politics and religion are the two areas where I absolutely hate having discussions with other people. Partially because I do not like arguing or any discomfort when there are differences in opinion, but because I do not have the answer, nor will I ever have the answer until… and only possibly… until I pass from this world. But until then, I’m content with having my own beliefs, keeping myself open-minded to others and living the best life I can without hurting those around me.

To me, that is being spiritual. Whether I light a candle and dance around a fire, attend church every Sunday, pray every afternoon or practice some other form, having a connection to something you believe in, that is more than physical, is healthy. And for anyone reading this, hopefully I have not offended or upset you. Not everyone agrees with the things I’ve mentioned in this post, and that is each person’s prerogative. All I ask is that people never force what they believe on someone else. Focus on yourself when it comes to these things and let others do the same.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

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365 Challenge: Day 35 – Genealogist

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Genealogist: One who is actively engaged in the study or investigation of ancestry and family histories

We’ve made it through another week and on this fifth Sunday, it’s time to wrap up the first month’s focus on my genealogical heritage. See below for a picture of my Ancestry DNA results.

genealogy

In the last four weeks, I selected the 4 countries where I believe my ancestors hailed from, as well as picked the top stereotypical traits people assumed about the people from those places. A quick summary:

  1. Irish: 20%
  2. English: 33%
  3. German: 33% (Includes the Scandinavian as some of relatives were on the border)
  4. Scottish: 13%
  5. Other: 1% (West Asian – I think everyone gets that!)

While the DNA results and the documentation have a 10% disconnect, it’s a very clear picture of who my people were and where I came from.

Why do I study my genealogy? Take a look at this post on my professional website. It will give you some insight into my historical nature and great big quest for the past.

I often wonder why I’m so persistent on it… do I doubt who I am? Do I need more details about where I came from? Is it trying to understand how it all began?

Ultimately, this interest goes back to more than just people… it’s how did the USA begin. What happened to the dinosaurs? What were the original continents like? How did Earth form? What other galaxies are there? It’s more than being curious. It’s more than dedication or obsession. When I’m researching a family member on my laptop, tons of windows open to compare and contrast records, and I stumble upon a find… my eyes light up, I can’t sit still and my fingers can’t keep up with my mind. The discovery is brilliant and I’m ecstatic.

I’m a linear person. I like to start at the beginning. I have to read the first book in a series. I prefer straight lines. I like to create project plans with a starting point and an ending point. I love watching time pass on a clock, counting down to the re-start of the 60 segment process.

I believe it’s the same orderly structure that drives me to research my roots. I like seeing things improve, gain strength, drive forward. Adding more knowledge with each successive chain or generation. I’m sociological, I suppose.

Seeing a family tree, learning how people survived, how they met… what types of jobs and families they had. What made them move? These are all details I enjoy searching for across the internet.

Can you imagine watching from the sidelines as your ancestors moved through their lives? What if we had a time machine and could go back not to change the past, but to watch it unfold on warp speed? Quick enough not to see the tedious things, but slow enough to watch how each generation changed. To see your 4 times grandparents meet on a boat and decide to marry within days. To know your 6 times great-grandmother suffered so many miscarriages due to the poor conditions of medicine and health, but then she finally gave birth to your 5 times great-grandfather. To know how wars impacted your family. To recognize who touched royalty at some point.

It’s not unlike my interest in mystery fiction. Investigation. Detection. Research. As I draft each of these posts, hitting number 35 today, several themes are starting to appear. I’ve always known about them on a smaller scale, but the picture is becoming more clear.

So now I throw it out there… where do I go next?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.