This I Believe
Pondering the question, What is my most rock-bottom, rock-solid belief? I come up empty-handed. In the grip of the cynicism of our time, and of my own time, well into the seventh decade of my life, I find my barrel of beliefs pretty empty. I don’t think this is a bad thing. This is an emptiness born of the experience of watching one by one as each of my most closely held and cherished beliefs have thrashed about in a sea of uncertainty and finally drowned in the grace of new knowledge, I no longer hang on with white-knuckled desperation to anything I currently think to be true.
I’m reminded of the Firesign Theatre’s slogan, Everything you know is wrong, or was it Monty Python who said that? Or maybe it was Firesign’s They’re in everybody’s eggs! Describing some miniscule UFOs someone found in their morning eggs. To me that humbling funny phrase has always meant that the very thing you think is so confounded unique to your wonderful self-alone is in reality universality experienced by every single person you know.
And then there are the Kachinas. At a certain age, Hopi children are invited to meet the Kachinas face-to-face. Already excited by seeing the gods from the San Francisco Peaks actually dancing in the streets of their village, they wait in the Kiva in near-ecstatic anticipation as they hear the jingling ankle-bells of the approaching Kachinas. Imagine their disillusionment when the Kachinas show up carrying their masks, and the children must now incorporate into their belief-system the knowledge that those are not the real Kachinas, (or are they?) Those are their uncles and cousins, dressed up like Kachinas. The Hopi regard this experience as one of the most important rites of passage they can offer their children, allowing them to mature into wise elders. While it is often compared with our own culture’s Santa Claus myth, the difference is the internationality with which the elders perpetrate this profound disillusionment on their children, and how they value it as a rite of passage.
I’ve seen my own Kachinas face to face, and am richer for the experience. I suspect I still have some Kachinas lurking about somewhere in my consciousness. Until proven otherwise, I will continue to hold them as sacred guides in this complicated confusing chaotic thing called life. But should the time come when I must let even them go, I will do so, trusting in a larger truth that holds it all.
So I guess that’s what is boils down to. That larger truth. That rock-solid conviction that Something or Someone is holding it all together, even when it all seems to be falling apart. That one will be the last to go.
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