In gathering myself up for a look at my own values (not sure if I can call these exclusively “Pagan” values — but these are relevant to my own daily journey), I piled everything into a floor on the living room of my mind. Its a fairly jumbled stack of stuff — but I wasn’t quite sure that all of it fit into the area of a “value” — cultural, personal, ethical or otherwise. So I spent my meditation period sifting through this pile – picking up and observing each item in the pile – and then applying one or more mental categories to each before stacking each into its appropriate niche. When I was finished, I wound up with an even more confusing list of notations that pointed in hundreds of different directions. I attempted to locate some thread of commonality between all the items – and wound up with one. They all came out of the same jumbled pile from the floor.
It was fairly obvious that this technique was not the screaming success I had hoped it would be. Keeping my list in the forefront of my mind, I spent a little more time outside of meditation looking through various blog postings throughout the web that handed out descriptions of perceived lists of “values” — both Pagan and other. Oddly enough, when I was tired of click after click of descriptions and explanations, I found I had a similar grouping of confusing elements to my jumbled pile that occupied my mental living room floor. Scratching my head, I decided to head to another source of meditation for me.
Walking. I scrunched a handful of musical selections on my iPod, most of which are helpful for me to clear my mind. The reality of that is that it isn’t that difficult to do. Its sort of like moving out of an apartment when all you have in the name of furniture is a couple of milk crates and a single board. Okay that’s not necessarily fair to me, but the image is a little funny. So, after loading up my iPod, finding some clothes to sweat into (it is currently getting over 100F here in Texas on a regular basis in the afternoons), strapping on some tennis shoes, and locating my doo-rag (keeps my bald spot from getting sun-burned), I hit the sidewalks of the neighborhoods. Unfortunately, even after clearing my head and focusing on this single issue – I wound up in the same place. A big jumbled pile of material that seemingly didn’t have a connection other than being piled up together.
That left one single avenue for me. Sleep. Yes, literally sleeping on the entire idea. So, I pushed the entire idea out of my mind, got a night’s sleep, and woke up the next morning. With the same pile of jumbled thoughts in my head. And then it dawned on me. I had the connective perspective back in the very beginning of trying to locate my thoughts — aside from being piled together on the shag carpeting of my mind – all of these particular values do have one thing in common: ME. I’m the thread that keeps all these particular things sewn together. That’s the common factor that I’ve been overlooking. And with that common thread, I was able to look deeper into the meaning of each item and determine which piece was part of the essential fabric – and which served a different purpose.
1. Reverence of Nature – everything that I strive to do is aimed towards finding my balance with the Natural World around. How do I fit in? What can I do to make the world around me better than when I found it? I spend time talking to the three trees in my yard. I can stand for hours and watch the squirrels and birds play in the water fountain in the backyard or get seeds from the small pile I left near the stone circle. When I take walks in the various city parks, I take the time to stop and sit — not just to rest from my walk, but to also remove my earbuds and just listen. The sounds of the birds, the wind blowing gently through the leaves/branches, and even the sound of the occasional car passing nearby — all of these sounds become the soundtrack for my day. Its the experience of those – and many other – moments that define each moment for me…
2. Unconditional experience – I’m a person of experience over theory. I understand theory quite well – but I can never grasp it completely until I have experienced it first-hand. This goes with everything in Life. Sometimes, I find myself balking at doing a particular thing because I can see the negative consequences that abound from it. But in balking, I tend to forget that every experience also has some good consequences that come from it as well. For me, Life is made up of intentions. What may seem to be “good” to one person can also seem “bad” to another — which leads into my perspective being only one of many.
3. My perspective is only one – I started down my Pagan Path nearly twenty-five years ago. That Path started as a Wiccan. At that time, I was naive enough to think that Wicca was the *only* Path that was “worthy” of attention. Ahh, the arrogance of being young, dumb, and full of it. Over the next twenty-five years, I’ve managed to peek into most of the corners of the Pagan ‘verse. Added to all of the information that I picked up in the Alternative Religions classes I had in High School (product of a Catholic Private school upbringing) – I found that there were many avenues to Spirituality. Each had its own distinct vocabulary, perspective, understanding, and portrayed image of $deity. And none of them were wrong – for the adherent. It took nearly fifteen years of personal investigation for me to get past that point. It took another eight years of continued investigation for me to discover there’s a name for it: Universalism.
4. Learning never stops, neither does Teaching – In many ways, that’s what my podcast has evolved into. I’m not really seeking to teach people my way of doing things – but rather show them that they can seek answers through some measure of unconventional seeking. Opening up one’s mind to the concept of infinite possibilities in infinite combinations. Being a teacher/professor in my real life, I have found that teaching students has provided me the possibility of really seeing my own material, my own lesson plans, my own teaching methods through the eyes of someone else. And I can see how all of that does or does not translate well to their understanding. The result being that while I am teaching a wide variety of material (Server 2003, Network Connectivity, Security Principles, Business Communications), I am also learning how to become a more effective facilitator of that knowledge. At one time, I had professed on the podcast that I “wasn’t a teacher” – and the G-ds preceded to whack me upside the head and show me how wrong that statement was. Now, its an environment I thrive on and enjoy. I never would have guessed at where I am today back when I graduated High School with a 1.75 GPA and next to last in my class.
5. Thought Balanced by Emotion, Emotion Balanced by Thought – In many ways, I’m the typical Libra. In fact, there’s no escaping that concept. I’m the individual that constantly and continually seeks the middle ground, attempts to understand both sides of the argument, and weighs the options before making a decision. Well, for the most part. I do have an impulsive side too. But I try to remember that I balance my emotional side with my introspective side. For me, the ideal location is where I utilize both sides in reaching my decisions. And its a difficult balancing act to maintain. There are times when people can see me as indecisive because I have to weigh out the options – and I grok that. But its a side of me that I cannot just throw overboard, its a part of the way I see Life. Its a part of who I am and what I value about me.
So, there you have it. A list of SOME of my values and why they are what they are for me. Pagan? Well, I’m a Pagan, so I would like to think so — but I think a better label for these would be “Some of Tommy’s Values”. Could these be core values for a Pagan community? Maybe. Some of them, possibly. But that’s a completely different thought — because I see a lot of difficulty in trying to create value systems for a Community of individuals. I value individuals much higher than I do generic groupings of people. I try and accept people for who they show themselves to be – not what their grouping or labeling supposes them to be. But hey – that’s just me…