I’m happy to share my blog today with the wonderful guest writer, Valquerie. She is a local advocate for intellect, sexual acceptance, and all around healthiness.
Adjusting to your new cult status — by Valquerie
So I get excited about things.
I’m really excited this past year and a half about Narcotics Anonymous — you know, the whole 12-step recovery thing, replete with the Higher Power and all the jargon. Dang, I love it. My whole life has changed. I am a new person. Growing, learning every day. A new lease on life. I can finally stay clean AND have a fun, fulfilling life. Who knew? You would love it, too! You should totally come to a meeting — even if you don’t have a drug problem! That’s how amazing it is.
A few years back though, it was the Landmark Forum. Later it was Tantric Sex; Gurdjeff and Dogma 95 filmmaking; Anarchist World Agrarian Revolution. No, but this is really it!!!
Let’s face it: I get excited about things.
So it doesn’t really work, make sense to most people, or get me very far in conversation to declare my latest be-all and end-all thing as the ultimate one anymore, especially to people who have known me for a while — Mom, you reading this? So I am working very hard to adjust to my status as a happy, healthy, thriving cult member.
Yeah, so, for the sake of this piece, a cult is just a group of really happy people who are so excited about what they’re doing that they tend to look really weird to people on the outside and their everyday internal cult activities may not actually stand up to scrutiny from an outside observer — i.e., if you come in, take what we do out of context, try to intellectualize it, or argue it away, you very well might technically win that argument! A cult such as this may have strange jargon and customs and tend to inspire a zeal that at its best is inspiring and beautiful and at its worst can be off-putting.
I hope you will allow me poetic license with the word “cult” because that’s where my analogy stops. I want to be clear that I’m not trying to take lightly the serious problem of real cults that ruin people’s lives, separate them from all friends and family in order to take advantage and weaken individuals and rob them of all wealth and will. The real deprogrammers out there who I’m told deal with these things…well, I’ve only heard about them.
I did meet a guy once — we were all hanging out at the student union on campus and decided to go rent a cheap motel room and watch the Playboy channel and stay up late. This guy was with us but we realized the next morning after dropping him off on State Street that none of us actually knew him!?! He turned up in the newspaper as one of the kids that committed suicide wearing Nikes in preparation for an alien aircraft which was supposed to arrive behind the Hale-Bopp comet. Really sad story of a lost soul. I’m sorry, if you knew him.
So let’s leave that aside and get back to the everyday cult that I believe harmlessly attracts and gets us intrigued and excited and really appears to us and to others to be doing us some good; nonetheless it’s hard to talk about it with outsiders, even friends and family, too much; and as much as people can get that it seems good for us, they don’t tend to want to hear about it as much as our fellow cult members want to talk about it, or as much as we have the capacity to go on and on about it, given the chance.
By the way, yoga is my other new cult. I can’t imagine life without it. And I can’t imagine how I got by without it before now, or how you are getting by without it as we speak!
What mechanisms are at work here? I genuinely care about others and want them to experience what I have. I see other people suffering and want them to suffer less. I think that if they could just experience what I am experiencing, they could feel as good as I do. But it’s very arrogant of me. It’s very judgmental. It’s very grandiose. I am then trying to map my own experience onto another person and imagine that their path is exactly mine, that this juncture in their life is the same as mine. Just because I think I see a blind spot or area where someone might be struggling doesn’t mean that I know that person or have answers for that person where they are today. On the other hand, with a natural self-expression, an organic approach, perhaps a difference can be made?
If my favorite cult has taught me anything of value, it is that I am not perfect, nor shall I expect myself to be. Shall I hold perfection as a standard for others? How about not. How about a very healthy dose of acceptance and love for myself and others? Sometimes my zeal to share and convert and insist that someone needs my cult’s solutions can simply send the message that I am judging this person as deficient and lacking, bad and wrong, and holding myself up as the greater and more evolved. Uck; I do not want to hang out with that judgmental person; don’t call me back and keep your cult off my lawn!
What’s been working for me with NA — a group that has never asked me for a dime, has helped me get closer to my family and friends, has contributed so much to my recovery from some pretty serious drug addiction — is just to get that it works for me and it works for a lot of other people I know, many others I simply know of, that it might work for you, and it might work for someone else.
I heard it said that one should “share the fruit, not the tree.” I imagine that to be shining brightly and being as awesome as you can, being generous and kind, loving and inspiring as you can. Then there’s always the little tag line or simple endorsement you could drop casually, or share in moderation with concerned parties. It seems important to find a balance between proselytizing and stinginess — so that you are equally willing to share your experience as you are to walk away without mentioning it.
So as long as your cult is not harming you or anyone else, I say enjoy your new cult status. Bask in the excitement of your new zeal. May your cult be as fulfilling to you as mine has been for me.
Well, now that all that’s been said, I would love to hear about your new cult — as long as we both remember that your mileage may vary, as may mine.
“Take it Easy,”