I’ve been thinking about belief a lot lately. Not about any sort of god. Or religion. Or even myself. Just about belief.
A couple years ago, I was pretty good at believing. I was a successful web designer with a great job and a stable of websites with varying degrees of “success.” I was young, married, a father of three wonderful kids – I seemed the very model of success. I looked like I was going somewhere.
Today, it seems I am not so good at believing. While I still have a stable of websites and am the father of three wonderful kids, I am also in the process of getting divorced. I am no longer an employed web designer (though I am searching – I’m the best, you want to hire me!). It is hard for many people to look at my life and consider me anything like a model of success now.
It’s easy to think my lack of belief caused this massive swing in my life and circumstances, but the change in my circumstances is the cause of my lack of belief. You see, a couple of years ago, I had a lot more need to believe.
I had built a very elaborate house of cards based on the dreams and wants of other people, and ignored my own dreams. I convinced myself that what I had was the life I wanted. And I believed in that house of cards. I had invested so much into that house – church! – of cards, sacrificed so many dreams to the altar at the center of the cardboard cathedral, that I couldn’t bear not to believe in it. So I believed with the passion of the condemned or the pious.
I used to have a very simple rule for life: If the universe resisted me, I was probably taking the wrong course. This belief led me a great way along the road. It is unfortunate that it was the wrong road.
One day it became apparent to me that there was a fundamental flaw in my belief. If the universe wasn’t resisting me, it was because I was taking up no space, not because I had found the best course of action. Life is not water flowing down a hill. Life is roots cracking rock to gain a foothold on that hill.
I realized that my entire adult life had been spent supporting and nurturing the dreams of others.
And that house of cards came crashing down. I made some hard decisions. Other decisions were made for me, though I chose to react the way I did. I will always and forever hold myself responsible for my actions. And responsible I will be.
So here I am. The house I am building now isn’t made of cards, its made of bricks and stones and wood. It’s much smaller, and it will take much longer to build, but it will be solid and real, and it doesn’t require my belief to exist.