Question: Why Solo?

Not that long ago, I made mention of how I am not great in groups – particularly as a leader. Well Rebecca E. grabbed that little point, and asked if I could “dive deeper” on that point. Sure, let’s give it a shot and see where we re-surface at.

Most folks know, I am rather reticent about being referred to as a leader of any sort. Truth be told, I have been trained to be exactly that. The United States Air Force has schools that teach the concept of leadership to its lower enlisted. I was selected for, and sent to Airman Leadership School, and Non-Commissioned Officer’s Preparatory School. Both schools taught me the importance of HOW one leads. There was plenty of training material on the history of the ranks within the Air Force, as well as the history of the Service itself; however, the core of each was lessons in selflessness, concerning yourself with the well-being and needs of those who serve at your command. Much of these concepts have continued with me throughout my life and I have had many opportunities to apply those lessons in real-life situations in my career. However, I still have a reluctance to be the individual that steps up to take charge within my own Spiritual community.

I came into Paganism, or at least into a more formal understand of it, when I was in the Air Force. I was a part of two covens, one during my time in the military and one shortly after I left military service. Military life demands a lot of moving around for duty assignments and the such, which means that one’s Pagan life can have a lot of individual aspects to it. I learned fairly quickly that it was far easier to handle the primary aspects of my Spiritual Life on my own, and spend my time with others as more like a Pagan Meet-and-Greet. Much of that perspective has continued with me from my time in the military to where I am now.

So why join an organization like OBOD? Well, its not so that I can climb up to the point of being the Chosen Chief, that’s for sure. Philip Carr-Gomm, and his successor Eimear Burke, do a wonderful job with that position – far better than I could ever imagine myself doing, if I had that kind of ambition. I joined OBOD to learn about my own Druidry from a much deeper perspective. OBOD does not try and strip away who I am, and rebuild me in an image of what they believe a Druid to be. They help me to understand who I am, what I believe, and how aspects of Druidry can be added to that – as well as what I can do to change perspectives that might not have good foundations attached. OBOD allows me to be an individual practicing my own Spirituality, able to reach out to where I intend to be rather than fit round me into a square opening. For me, that’s important.

There are two points I will dig further into – ambition and my desire to remain an individual. I believe both of these are important to understanding why I remain where I am – a Solitaire – if you’ll forgive the chosen Wiccan narrative there.

I’ll start with ambition. I do not enjoy getting titles or awards bestowed upon me. I know that some of this is a necessary thing. I am just not super comfortable being in the spotlight. When I was teaching collegiate classes, it was easier to handle because my classes were fairly small. At most, I had twenty-five students in a class. While it was unnerving to have the attention of twenty-five people, it was far easier to adjust than if the room had more. There were plenty of times I wanted to run out the classroom door and find an office to hide in. As I said, I am not comfortable in the spotlight. And yet here I am, writing a fucking blog. Read by tens of people. With writing its a little different. You don’t have the people right there. Plus, in an online environment, its far easier to hide my terrified blushing.

Much of this plays into my desire to remain an individual. Its far easier for me to be in control of what I learn, how I learn it, and when I learn it. I spent eight years of my life in the US military, dressing exactly like everyone else, having the same haircut as everyone else, and blindly following the instructions I was given. The same instructions everyone else is given. The military is designed to tear you down as an individual, and then to build you back up in the same image as everyone else. All of that strikes a very dissonant chord within my very being. I have a strong desire to be myself, dress how I feel comfortable, and be who I feel I am. Its not for attention. Remember, I hate attention. Its not to be different either – that draws attention to yourself. Its so that I am comfortable with who I am. I am a Druid – I hate the color white. Currently, my cloak is a green color. I have toyed with the idea of a tunic or shirt of another color…blue, red, black, maybe even green. Anything except white. I am not trying to stand out in the very white robed world of Druidry, I prefer other colors. I will dress in a manner that is comfortable to me. I typically wear concert tshirts and jeans under my cloak. Why? Because its comfortable to me. And because I feel that there should not be an “official uniform” to what does or does not make a Druid. A Druid is a Druid, in my book.

I don’t keep an altar in the house. This is as close as it gets.

So, where does all this bring me? Well, Rebecca asked about my perspective on my desire to shy away from groups and leadership. Well, I do not see myself as a leader type. I see myself as me. As an individual, capable of making his own choices in life. I choose to follow a Path of Druidry. I choose to dress comfortably. I choose to be me. Certainly, there will be those that completely disagree with me on parts or even all of this. I can respect that because everyone has a right to the ground they choose to defend. All I ever ask, is for the same respect when it comes to the ground I have outlined and defend here. Surely, we don’t have to walk in lock-step to be Pagans, Witches and Druids? I will walk beside ANY Pagan, proud to be their friend and ready to defend what they believe – even if it is completely opposed to what I believe because I believe they have the right to do so. But defending rights is not about defending people who think exactly like you do – its about defending people so they can think exactly like they do.

Hope that answers the question a little more and a bit deeper for you Rebecca. It was a lot of fun writing this out, and it made me sit back and examine my own perspective in a manner I’ve not done in quite some time. Thanks for pushing me towards this.

–T /|\

It Really Is Worth It

Administrative Stuff

So, unfortunately, the Tuesday (yesterday) and Thursday (tomorrow) posts are going to be a day late. I do not have an army of posts written and ready to deploy on any given day. Most of what you read here is nearly a stream of conscious thought, as I sit and write these just a few moments before I post them. That explains some of the spelling and grammar mistakes I make, as well as the chunky way that some of this reads. My edit process is very small. Therefore, I run off into tangents such as this one. ::setting the post back on the tracks:: This afternoon, I will have a needle put into my right eye to inject medication to help with diabetic issues I have with my eyes. I had this done last week (to the day) for my left eye. Its not a pleasant thing, especially since last week was the first time I ever had it done. I do not expect today to be any more pleasant. My eye sight; however, will be blurry for about a half day or more. Thus, the reason for Thursday’s delayed post. Tuesday’s delayed post, which I am writing now, is due to my own laziness. So forgive me that with today’s post. 🙂

Topic-al Approach

My topic for this post is seeking joy in your life. Yeah, I understand that you are already considering the idea of skipping this post. When someone starts talking about seeking joy in life, the perspective tends to not be to the liking of a lot of folks. So, I understand if that is where you are heading. But thanks for reading this far, at least. I do appreciate that. I will be back to a bit more “Pagan-y” topic for the Thursday (actually Friday), and Sunday posts.

Those of you continuing on with me…thanks.

Seeking Joy

Seeking joy. Most likely you have heard this concept in some context or another. A few Pagan folks I have talked with about this have associated this with the “Sugar Pagans” or the “Love and Light” folks, if you prefer that label. Cool. I completely grok the extension. A few other folks have mentioned the self-help world as well. Well, I grok that too, but I tend to avoid that too. No, seeking joy is about finding the little things that make the world better for you each and every moment. That can be very different from person to person.

As an example, I will use a fictional example – The Hound from Game of Thrones.

Sansa Stark: Does it give you joy to scare people?
Sandor Clegane: No, it gives me joy to kill people.

Not everyone is going to have the same definition of joy. This is certainly an extreme example, but the Hound is not going to find joy in a sunlit field with butterflies floating about. So, as I start writing a bit more about joy, remember that I am writing from my own perspective. Yours may be decidedly different. And to be honest, that is really awesome.

Where to Look and How Hard

First, let’s make sure I say this out loud whenever and where everyone hears/reads it. Everyone has their down moments. For some folks, these moments are hard to shake. That depressive state can be a medical condition that will need assistance from health specialists. Please do not confuse what I am saying with saying that depression can be easily shaken off by changing one’s mental state. Far from it. So please do not get the impression that I am blowing off mental illness as something easily changed, I’m not.

Morning sun-rises are where I always find my joy to start the day

So where can one find joy? ::shrug:: Everywhere. In anything. A small gesture, like holding someone’s hand, can be the spark of joy that lasts a few moments or even a full day. Being out in the wide open – where no other human being can be readily seen – is enough to find joy. To know that the wide open world is there, and you are only a single, small part of it. And despite that small size, you can impact the world around you. There is a joy in that thought for me. The slight touch of your lover’s lips against your skin. The feel of a cool breeze on a super-warm Summer’s day. The extremely sharp silence after a snow-fall, punctuated by the crunch of the snow under your feet as you walk through the forest. Joy is where you find it.

Now, the harder part. How focused should you be in the search of your joy? In my experience, you do not need to go on a massive hunt for what you are looking for. The beauty of a moment will find you, usually in the most unexpected way. Nearly every morning, I post on Facebook and write “Seek joy y’all. That shit is so worth it.” Because it is. However, I am not talking about pulling on your camo, pulling a bow and a quiver of arrows out of the closet, and literally tracking every movement of joy that you can find. Rather, open your mind, your sense, your heart and your soul to the idea of finding that element of beauty and joy.

What to Do With It

So what do you do when you find that joy? Well, first off experience it for yourself. Pull it towards you, let it fill you up. Let that shit get deep inside you. Open up and let those feelings overwhelm you. Unless you’re driving or operating heavy machinery – then pull over or stop before doing so. Safety first. At a Pantheacon, Kristoffer Hughes did a form of grounding that had everyone reaching deep into the California soil (three floors below us, so you have some concrete to get through), then reaching out into the Pacific ocean waters, then finding our way through the air to reach those elements. Once we had reached all of that, he had us spread that feeling throughout, releasing it into the world around us. I believe he referred to this as a DTI or a “Druid Transmitted Infection.” So when you start to feel that joy welling up inside you, what do you do with it? Share it with someone else. And yes, there can be joy in performing a grounding ritual.

Joy is where we find it. Sharing it, helping others to find their own joy, I consider that to be a daily duty for me. Not everyone wants to feel all of that. They will shove you away. They will be angry with you. Understand that not everyone can reach for joy in every moment in their life. Not even yourself. There are always dark moments. There are always dark times. Nine Hells, we are living in some of the darkest times I can remember since the threat of nuclear annihilation. But even during those very dark times of the mid- to late-1980s, there was joy to find. And joy to share. Just don’t share the Hound’s joy. #JustSayin’

Seek joy. That shit really is worth it.