Monday, August 17, 2009

A Cosmic Bargain

The following piece is a blast from my past, something I wrote about eight or nine years ago. One version appears on my website,, and another in my book, "Living Well With Depression and Bipolar Disorder." Here's the latest, with a minor edit or two:

Many spiritual beliefs teach us we pick the lives we're born into, and many times I have played the scene in my head, of me more than a half century ago ready to disembark the godly planes as I negotiate with my cosmic broker the terms for my upcoming earthly existence. I have been singled out, he informs me. I can have all the worldly success of a trust fund baby, he lets me know. The catch is I will BE a trust fund baby. The other path, he tells me, leads to a deeper humanity and spirituality through a trail of a thousand sorrows.

I am clearly being honored. Precious few souls, I realize, are presented with such spectacular options. Nevertheless, I find myself trying to strike a better deal.

Can't I have the spirituality and humanity, I ask, with the trust fund baby success, without the sorrows? And the cosmic broker only laughs. He sees my hesitation, then presents me with another choice - of a successful but modest professional life, a family, security, perhaps a light karmic obligation or two. He catches the wistful look in my eyes, of a simple dream denied by someone who has already made up his mind. He reaches over and hands me the thousand sorrows documents, which I sign without reading.

God, I hate you! I hear myself crying out many years later. But God doesn't hold this against me. God knows the deal, even if you and I can only imagine it.

(Thanks to Elizabeth for reminding me of this piece.)

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