Another possibility is that because my experiences have been varied, I can truthfully agree with opposing viewpoints:
“Oh, you’re a raw vegan?” ME TOO!!Both of those are true, or have been true, or at least I like the ideas. I haven’t decided which way I want to eat, so I really do agree with proponents of most diets (diet as in ‘way of life’ not ‘temporary/unsustainable plan to achieve weight loss’).
“Oh, you eat traditional foods, including lots of animal products?” ME TOO!
“Oh, you are a true believer and you really do believe that everything we are taught is literally true?” ME TOO!I have felt both ways, sometimes all in the same day.
“Oh, you have so many doubts that it even goes as far as wondering if God exists?” ME TOO!
Another possibility is that I’m empathetic or sympathetic. I’d like to think I have those qualities. But maybe I have too much of them. When someone tells me their opinion, I try to see the benefits or positives of it, and I sometimes ignore the negatives. So if two people have opposing views, I can see the positives of both sides, and I think I agree with both sides.
I guess I’m just a walking contradiction!
So I started thinking of ways to be sure that I am making my OWN decisions (on religion, diet, and other societal issues like wearing makeup and dressing fashionably) and not trying to please anyone else. Of course I need to keep my kids in mind when I make decisions, but other than that, I really don’t need to worry about what anyone else will think.
I decided to imagine myself all alone, living in the wilderness. I wanted to imagine how I would feel, making decisions for only myself. What would I do? What would I believe? It was lots of fun to think about, but I don’t think that the exercise served the purpose I thought it would.
I pictured myself constantly on the move, walking through meadows, wandering through forests, swimming in my lake, gardening in my square foot gardens. Sometimes I would be inside my cabin, cooking or cozied up in a blanket in front of a fire, reading, doing some handwork, or just rocking and thinking.
My hair would be down loose and wild and flowing all around me, or sometimes subdued in two French braids. Clothes would be solely for warmth or to prevent injury. I would wear long, flowy dresses or funky long johns from Hanna Anderson.
I would never wear anything restrictive or uncomfortable (nylons, bras, tight shoes). Shoes would be something moccasin-like – soft and flexible. I wouldn’t shave or wear makeup. Bathing and hair washing would be accomplished with frequent swims in a beautiful clean lake (this is my fantasy world; there’s no animal poop in this lake).
I would grow a huge garden and gather nuts and berries and anything else I could find. I couldn’t decide if I’d be able to kill any animals come winter time. I imagined that I wouldn’t have electricity, so it’d be difficult to preserve enough vegetable food for winter.
I pictured myself communing with God and nature every moment of the day, but religion suddenly became meaningless. When you’re the only one in existence, good works become irrelevant. Since I was the only one, God would commune with me directly – there would be no scriptures, no ordinances, no temples, no meetings, no advocacy, no fighting evil, nothing.
And there’s where my vision broke down.
I realized that even though it was fun to imagine, this exercise would not assist me in the slightest in figuring out how I want to function in real life, particularly with regard to religion, but with the societal questions as well. In real life, there are other people around. Even if I could, I don’t want to be a hermit. Society affects us, whether we want it to or not. If I went to a professional job interview looking the way I looked in my vision, I probably wouldn’t get the job, even though I fit in very well in the forest.
But most of all, the religion part of real life is different. To me, the ultimate point of religion and spirituality is how we treat others. Every single part of religion does or should point back to how we treat others. In my vision, religion became meaningless because there was no one to help, comfort, uplift, encourage, or love. So basically, this daydream did nothing to help me decide what I want to or should believe or think. But it was fun to imagine. And I’d definitely like to include some of the elements I imagined in my ultimate plan for my life.
My daydream definitely helped remind me that it really is my ultimate goal to treat others kindly. I have a major struggle with this. My first impulse is to be sarcastic and critical. My desire is to be kind and encouraging, to be the person that everyone feels loved by.
In the past I’ve struggled with my beliefs because I wasn’t sure what my measuring stick was. What do I hold up each belief next to, to see if it measures up? Is it the Book of Mormon? Is it the Bible? Is it a Conference talk? What? I realize now that ‘treating others well’ is a great measuring stick. I need to refine that a bit, and define exactly how I want to treat others. Some things can’t be completely measured by that one criteria, but I think it’s a good start.
And I think I’m going to end this here, because I’m not really sure where to go with it now.