“Someday after we have mastered the winds, the waves and gravity, we will harness for God the energies of love; and then for a second time in the history of the world, humans will have discovered fire.” — Teilhard de Chardin
“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in your reading have been like the blast of triumph out of Shakespeare.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
This past weekend my love bought me a copy of the book Pronoia by Rob Brezsny. I had never heard of it and did not realize the author was the same guy who writes the nationally syndicated astrology column Free Will Astrology. But Pronoia is not about astrology and yes, it has a weird name. It’s also not really a book. It’s more like an event.
What is pronoia? Pronoia is 1 part philosophy, 1 part action, and 1 part revolution. If you’d like to read Rob’s creation story + heart-opening reality-checks then read Glory in the Highest 1, Glory in the Highest 2, and Glory in the Highest 3.
The basic idea of Pronoia is that you acknowledge, entertain, and experiment with the idea that everything in the universe is conspiring to support and love you. Brezsny states that it’s designed to be an antidote to the “oppressive convention of paranoia.”
Who is Pronoia for? Well, it’s easier to answer that question by describing who it is NOT for. It’s not for you if:
- you’re not into radical acts of beauty, consciousness, and insurrectionary joy – instead, you prefer to derive your creative and life inspiration from hatred, fear, and judgment
- you’re really not interested in being a rebel creator on numerous and numinous levels
- you don’t love books with amazing, thoughtful, and relevant quotes
- you still believe (like many) that good art and abundant imagination requires cynicism, malaise, self-torture, and alienation
- you prefer to disengage with difficulty and instead, subscribe to pop-optimism
- you’re not into historical revolutions and/or you haven’t yet realized that you’re living in the midst of one
- you don’t like good news
- you’re allergic to conversion experiences
- you don’t believe in positive personal and cultural transformation or healing (and never will)
- you are so invested in a religious or political doctrine that you cannot dialogue with other people or ideas in a healthy, positive manner
If the above apply to you, stop here. No need to go further. There are plenty of corners on the internet for you my sweet love but you are always welcome back anytime with a smoochy world kiss and wide, open arms.
If the above do not apply to you, if they instead pique the joy-juice within your angel-soul just a little, then let’s proceed.
This is not a book review. Rather, it’s another telling of my childhood & my experience with writer’s block that is inspired by one of the premises of pronoia: that we are equally responsible to report our good news. Brezsny rightly argues
when many people talk about their childhoods, they emphasize the alienating, traumatic experiences they had, and fail to report the good times . . . it’s crucial for you to extol the gifts you were given in your early years: all the helpful encounters, kind teachings, and simple acts of grace that helped you bloom.
Before we proceed with another collage of childhood, you might want to read the first one here. After you do that, come back and read this gem, this glittering pink diamond, this ruby-red crystal quote I put here just for you:
Two chemicals called actin and myocin evolved eons ago to allow the muscles in insect wings to contract and relax . . . today those same two proteins are responsible for the beating of the human heart.” Deepak Chopra
Now for another childhood (there are several). This version is equally true and valuable; it doesn’t seek to nullify, negate, or spin my other truth(s). It doesn’t seek to supply pat answers or even, comfort. It reminds me that I hold layered experiences in opposition and at the same time. It is my responsibility to report all of them so we can journey closer to the mythic land of objective truth.
When I was little, each Easter my grandmother would buy all the granddaughters beautiful twirly dresses the color of easter eggs, complete with shawls, patent-leather shoes, socks, bows, hats, and gloves. I always loved to dress up.
My mother, though she didn’t live with me most of my life, would sometimes (when the mood struck) sit down and tell me glorious stories about her day in the glistening metropolis of “Crystal City.”
My father always provided a nice house to live in & there was hot running water anytime I wanted it – I took a lot of baths! When I wanted a glass of clean drinking water, I just shuffled myself into the kitchen and filled one up like magic. I always had doctors, nurses, and dentists tending to me with careful attention and new clothes for school in the exact colors and styles I chose. I had plenty of food & could listen to the birds sing outside my window at will. Please understand, I’m not guilty I had these things – in fact, never before in the history of humanity have so many human beings had access to these incredible graces. Rather, I want more of these things for more people.
These things, aside from being magnificent miracles of Holy Book proportions, taught me that the source of my happiness was not material – I learned very early that “things” weren’t love but looking back, I see very clearly that they were the result of many human beings and human systems working on my behalf. And the list of those things was limitless.
I was alone a lot. This meant I could exercise my imagination without restraint. If I wanted to write, I could. In many ways, I was free. Even though this freedom scared me it also left me to grow a little untended, a little wild, a little unconcerned. This has proven to be one of my greatest strengths.
When I needed a place to go, I had one. Not just any place – but a beautiful shelter by the often-sunny ocean where I could fish and pick tomatoes with my grandfather or pilfer through my grandmother’s vintage closet with abandon. She kept bottles of sweet-smelling perfumes on mirrored vanity trays. I learned a little bit about elegance, glamour, and beauty.
The talk in my grandparent’s house often veered towards virtues like gratitude, optimism, integrity, honor, and service. They also laughed a lot. Growing up with depression-era people had its advantages. These advantages have been like precious gold wands and magic unicorn tools that I use to navigate my life. They’re not very sexy and they don’t guarantee success, happiness, or good behavior but they do offer gifts of resilience and healing whenever I choose to unfold them from my starry cloak and put them to use.
When I was ready to heal, there were infinite resources at my disposal.
And when it was time for me to start writing in all the ways I wanted and needed to, I found the support was just there as long as I stayed just a little clear and applied some effort. I learned that I sometimes had to give up things I loved for things I might love more. But that story is for another time.
Till then, I leave you with this.
When I say “Be Yourself,” I mean the self that says “Thank You!” to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the rebel creator who’s longing to make the whole universe your home and sanctuary. I mean the dissident bodhisattva who’s joyfully struggling to germinate seeds of divine love that that are packed inside every moment. — Rob Brezsny
If you like this, I know you’ll share it with your friends.
Be Yourself + BIG WRITER HUGS,
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How I wish I had my copy sitting beside me! Alas, the book was just a bit too big to pack and move across the world, but maybe on my next trip. I’m fascinated by pronoia and how the simple shift in perspective changes everything.
Cassandra I think he keeps a lot of the text from the book on his website 🙂