There is No Spoon

by Chloe Jeffreys · 29 comments

in Uncategorized

The last time I wrote here I referenced Oz, this time I’m going Matrix.

For those of you who’ve been living under a rock since 1999 here’s the quick synopsis of The Matrix.

I think it is by no sheer accident that I wore white on New Year’s Eve since that was the last night of my innocence. Like a lamb to slaughter, I innocently went out that night thinking my world was perfect, but it wasn’t. Things weren’t as they seemed.

In the subsequent 5.5 weeks I have learned things that I didn’t want to know about myself, my life, and this completely fucked up world we live in.

Painful and ugly things that I didn’t want to know, but now can’t unknow.

Some of those things I so want to tell you about. I want to warn you. I need to warn you.

I want to be a beacon for you–shining in the darkness–illuminating the rocks and shoals that lurk just under the surface ready to dash your boat to pieces. I want to shout at you, “Stop! Pay attention! Look and listen! The world may not be what it seems!”

But I can’t yet.

And neither can I be the Mariah Carrey of mid-life and carry on with my blog as if nothing has happened, shilling shit you probably don’t need, and telling you that if you are just fabulous and can fit in the perfect pair of skinny jeans and use the right skin cream your life won’t fucking fall apart on you. That just isn’t true. It can and it might. At any moment.

As they say, “Ignorance is bliss.”

But is it?

Jesus said that “…the truth shall set you free.”

Unfortunately, somewhere in between the bliss of ignorance and the freedom that comes from the truth comes this dire warning: The Truth Hurts.

And damn it, it does. A lot. The perilous road between bliss and freedom is fraught with pain. But Jesus didn’t come to bring bliss; he came to bring freedom; he came to set the captives free. We cannot grow if we insist on remaining captive to our fantasies and self-told lies.

In the past year, I have struggled with my faith as a Christian to the point of coming close to just chucking it all. Part of my brain shouts, “Just give up! It will all be better if you just give up!”

And I might have given up my faith if just one person I’ve known who converted from Christianity to Atheism ended up funnier.

To a man (or a woman), every last friend I have had who has chucked their faith has seemed to lose their sense of humor. And that I can’t lose. My sense of humor is the only thing I received true and pure from my parents. It is my most precious possession. I won’t give that up for anything.

Yeah, I might not seem funny today, but trust me, I’m fucking hilarious. Just ask anyone who knows me in real life and they’ll tell you, “Chloe is fucking hilarious.”

Like Jacob wrestling with God in the desert, each of us struggles to make sense of this nonsensical world; a world that not only doesn’t give a shit about you, but also seems bent on your destruction. The temptation has been powerful for me to just walk out of the wrestling pit, telling God over my shoulder on my way out, “I don’t see you!”

Because if I don’t see Her then She can’t see me, right? Isn’t that the easiest way to end this struggle? Just walk out of the pit and pretend there is no struggle?

But you can’t walk away. Wherever you go, there you are.

So here I am; Round 532: Cage Match, Chloe versus God. Ding, ding, fucking ding.

There’s a scene in The Matrix after Neo has taken the red pill (that’s the one that opens your eyes to reality) where Cypher (the traitor) sympathizes with Neo’s dawning realization that reality sucks.

 

 
And there have been many moments in the past few weeks when I have wished that I would just wake up from this nightmare. Why didn’t I just take the blue pill?!?! Would it have been so damned hard?

Surely it is still January 1st, and I’m cuddled up in bed sleeping it off, right? But it isn’t, and I won’t.

And every day I’m getting more okay with that.

While there are many flaws with the Brothers Wachowski’s Matrix Trilogy (well, the 2nd and 3rd movies anyway. The first movie is just damn near perfect), my biggest complaint is that the real world Neo wakes up into contains no loveliness. There is nothing of beauty in it. All the beauty is in the fantasy world of The Matrix.

But that isn’t the truth. Humans cannot live without beauty. Humans need to believe that somehow beauty can always be fashioned out of the ashes of our lives.

The beauty we perceive in a fantasy world is not real beauty; it’s just a lovely picture we tell ourselves is true. But even the loveliest Monet can not compare to a walk in a real French garden, even if it means you have to slog through great big piles of shitty manure to get there.

Yes, I have swallowed the red pill. I will never be the same again. And this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a new thing.  And somehow even though I don’t believe that God is like some cosmic Santa Claus sitting up in heaven with a happy little perconstructed plan for our lives, I do believe that somehow God does make beauty out of the ashes we bring Him.

I hate to give you two video’s today, but here’s today’s song:

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

funny, unbitter atheist March 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I was “cradle Catholic” who had a wonderful experience in the faith. I loved the traditions, I loved my 12 years of Catholic schooling, I loved God. I prayed ’til I cried – for no other reason than the joy of feeling God’s love surging through me. The one thing I KNEW growing up was that I would NEVER forsake my faith.

But when I got older and learned more about the complete and abject b.s. that other faiths believe, I knew I couldn’t avoid taking an equally critical look at my own. I came to realize that my transubstantiation was no less silly than someone else’s 79 virgins or fear of pork roast or buried golden tablets. It didn’t make me bitter to realize this, and I don’t blame my parents for selling me a worldview seen through the lens of an ancient nomadic society’s morality fables. But it ends with me: I’m not letting my children come of age under the same fog that I did. They deserve the best I can provide for them, and that best is the truth that we get ONE SHOT on this Earth.

That’s one shot to make something of ourselves, to choose how we spend our time here. It’s one shot to take care of others who need our help, because it’s a myth that those who suffer can look forward to paradise on the “other side.” There is no other side. There’s no other side if you’re a beetle or a maple or a human. There’s just our life, and when we die we cease to be. Some people think that sounds cold, callous, and uncaring. In fact, I never felt more connected and more concerned about my fellow humans than I did once I was willing to admit to myself that there was no loving God counting the hairs on our heads.

I’m sorry for spouting and I’m sure I’ve way overstepped my place with you and your regular readers. I’m not trying to push my atheism on anyone here, and it certainly doesn’t bother me that other folks find comfort and meaning in their faith. (I did for almost 40 years!) I guess all I wanted to convey was that for those who are terrified to be really having doubts about your faith (I was, for years), it’s OK. I’ve come through that transformation a more caring and kind person than I was before. Far from being a bitter, humorless shell of my former self, I have meaning and love and hope in my life and if this path is for you, you will find those things too in a world without gods.

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Stephanie (Just Me) February 11, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I hate that damn, bitter red pill.

And I hate that it is the only way to real life and freedom.

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هتل February 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I always love the way that you explain things to others

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Susan in the Boonies February 11, 2012 at 8:59 am

I missed the “spoon” that you referenced in your title.

But I think this post is excellent, and I’m glad you were able to share what you did.

And I hope Nashville will be good medicine for you.
Because I intend to laugh with you and Anne. A lot.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 11, 2012 at 9:50 am

Laugh? I was hoping heavy drinking was going to be involved. Anne said something about vodka.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 11, 2012 at 9:59 am

It is a movie reference. After Neo takes the red pill and gets unplugged from the machine, he goes to see this woman (The Oracle) to learn how to manipulate The Matrix. Since everything in The Matrix is a computer-generated illusion, none of it really exists, it just feels like it does. The Oracle teaches people how to see past the illusion. There is a scene with a little boy where the boy tells Neo, “There is no spoon”.

I look at the illusions of my life, even the current one, and forget that they are simply illusions. The things I see are not me, nor do they define me or the people I love.
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Brenda February 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

Funny thing is (and that’s funny weird, not funny ha-ha), when a friend on FB was granting three wishes yesterday I couldn’t find three I wanted. I even struggled with deciding on one (getting rid or control of my auto-immune issues). And that’s what’s weird, I don’t really desire to change my very hard circumstances in a flash. I enjoy the fight, being made stronger in the pressure and finally coming out on the other side changed, a better me. And FYI, I’m oh so NOT a perfect Christian and love talking about the hard stuff. I even had a rather vigorous theological discussion with my agnostic dh last night. ;)

Thanks for listening to Jeff and writing. When you write, I get to think deeply, and I need that kind of exercise. And the other kind, too. ;p

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Chloe Jeffreys February 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

Brenda, as you show here, the easy life is not necessary the well-lived one.

The Bible says that if we are fortunate then at the end God will say, “Well done…”

I guess it isn’t so great if we get to heaven and all God can say to us is, “Well, that didn’t look too hard.”
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Tabitha February 11, 2012 at 12:29 am

I didn’t wwant to read and not comment but I don’t have anything useful to add. Take care chloe.

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Heather A February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Not a single thing witty or wise do I have to say.
You’re speakin’ truth, and it’s good to hear your voice.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

For me there is an element of both Me & God and Me v God, but I’m afraid that I’m in the wrestling pit more often than not.

He and I seem to be at an impasse over this one small little point: I just really don’t like the way God runs this universe.
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Julia February 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Life is messy. People suck sometimes. And sometimes people are awesome and wonderful. The red pill is the hard way, but it is the more honest way. And I still love you. I’m glad you could write this.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I’m trying to write. Jeff asked me to write again. I think I’m ready. I’m going to try, anyway.
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AndreaBT February 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Chloe…the day after Christmas, my husband and I got in a fight, and he physically tried to throw me out of the house. I called the police, and once they got there, I took my girls and left. I’ve only been back since to gather things I need when he’s not home. My world has been completely rocked. We’ve said that our goal is to work things out, but at this point, I’m having a hard time seeing how it can happen. We start joint counseling Monday. (oh. joy.)

Anyway…I have no idea what happened in your world barely a week later, but I just wanted to let you know…I’m kind of there too. But I’m hanging on to Jesus. HE IS ALL I’VE GOT. I agree being a Christian doesn’t make life neat and tidy, but it gives me something to hold on to. {{{Chloe}}}

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Oh Andrea, thank you for risking that and telling me. My world, like yours, is rocked at the core. It is a horrible place to be. I’m so sorry.

I suffer from a terrible anger management problem that has not helped my situation. I hope counseling helps you. I’m going 3x/week right now. I hope you find a counselor that can help you and your husband come to some sort of agreement that will at least take care of your children. My heart and prayers, such as they are, go out to you tonight.
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Magnolia February 10, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Atheists have no sense of humor because they are bitter. Show me an atheists and I’ll show you someone who is bitter in life.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 8:23 pm

It seems that way. Maybe after awhile they aren’t do bitter anymore. I get being bitter after the wounding and the sense that they’ve wasted their precious time. But I can’t afford bitter right now. I have to have hope.
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Magnolia February 12, 2012 at 7:00 am

I think much of our bitterness in life stems from the fact that we are not God and therefore, cannot know the things that God knows.

So, we set about trying to make sense out of things that are beyond our capacity to understand. And no, I do not think it is some cruel game that God plays.

People are forever attributing human characteristics to God. As if he is as petty as we are. We do not understand life so we lash out at him. We can’t make sense of our pain, so we rage at him and conclude he must enjoy it somehow, watching us suffer.

I think as long as we continue to try to define God in human terms with human characteristics, we will always become enraged. And perhaps, rightly so.

That is not to say that we should rationalize our pain…..and perhaps this comment may even sound like one. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you try to solve an algebra or calculus problem and you begin with the wrong premise, you will tie yourself in knots. Every. Single. Time.

Shall we then rage at algebra or calculus?
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Faith February 10, 2012 at 5:34 pm

You HAVE been missed. Glad you’re back and I wonder how much deeper you’ll be for the journey…no matter how annoying it was in the process.

Anyone who thinks that THIS Christian life is all neat and tidy wrapped up in a pretty ribbon, box, and stamp on it needs to get out more. It’s messy because we’re messy. I might clean up okay some days but underneath it all….I’m messy.

I don’t even pretend anymore. :) PROGRESS.

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Margaret February 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm

She writes! I’m glad. You’ve been missed.

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Thank you. I’m trying.
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Shorty February 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I’ve found that for me Christianity is not tidy- it can be messy and it often hurts. It is the refining process, maybe- when we struggle with ourselves and our perception of a God who is so mighty that he is truly unfathomable. He surely is not afraid of our struggles and questions. Unfortunately the answers I crave seem…unforthcoming. But still, undeniably, I try to make sense of things, do them ‘right’, train the kids ‘right’, mentor them to choose rightly when the whole time I am still figuring it all out. And they will have to do the same thing too- because Christianity is more about us and God (surely NOT us vs God…?) then rules and regulations. We do have to fight it out; fight through it. I am just beginning to understand that the end of the fight probably comes only when we die. yay. damn. lol.

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Amy February 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Don’t make me think about reality! My made up world was so cozy.

Right until my 16yo son packed his guitar on his back and walked out at 1 a.m. And the 18yo was suspended from school just a week before a full-ride scholarship essay/application is due. Dammit.
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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Dammit. That fucking reality. I’m so sorry.

I can tell you that there will come a day when they will rise up and call you blessed. I promise.
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Sharon February 10, 2012 at 2:58 pm

came damn near close to chucking it all too last summer……still wrestle, not completely healed (mostly because I keep picking at the scab…), and I am here to tell you it’s better with faith than without. It was very dark and lonely and ugly without……and you can only talk about it with a very few Christians because the “perfect” ones will never understand and even condemn. (in “perfect” love of course!!). I pray for you peace and joy and strength and every good adjective. (and butterflies and rainbows too!!) long distance hugs to you Chloe!

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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Sharon, this is also the decision I made. I’m a better person with faith than without. And ultimately I have to live with myself, first and foremost.

Some Christians just can’t handle the truth because they are so frightened themselves. Faith is a tenuous thing, easy to lose, some people feel it is best to never look–never acknowledge the struggle. The best thing for my faith is seeing so many people of real faith–people God talked to–who struggled with their faith.

Some people of faith, like you and me, don’t get to live behind rose-colored glasses. And any time we try to put a pair on, life comes along and rips them off of our head.
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By Word of Mouth Musings February 10, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Honesty, pure and true …
Please tell me that you are heading to Blissdom?
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Chloe Jeffreys February 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yes! I will be there. I hope to be moderately sane by then.
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