Which is not at all like opposite day. Or maybe it is. I think perhaps opposite day can be fairly awkward.
Anyway. This is going to be a jumble of a post, but it’s in keeping with the theme of the day.
I have been, at a friend’s insistence, watching “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” a CBC sitcom centered around a small group of Muslims in a little Canadian town, and their mosque, which is run out of the local Anglican church. For the most part, it is hilarious and a welcome change from the fear-mongering “news” you hear most of the time in the media. But that’s not why I’m feeling awkward. In the first season, there’s an episode about a Muslim convert, who is this crazy overzealous creep. He’s very focused on the details of Islam and sort of misses the point (later on, after he discovers he’s alienated himself from the community, he goes and becomes a Christian, and speaks almost entirely in Bible verses).
As often happens, I am now self-conscious. Which is actually not a terrible thing, since I feel it makes me evaluate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I had a conversation with a new friend who is a Westerner who converted to Islam a few years back that new converts/adopters tend to be very zealous for a while as they learn to calibrate to a new belief system. I think it’s a fairly normal tendency, when changing to a new religious system, to say “I must do everything!” The imam on the show says something wise to the crazy convert, which is “hold on, ease into things.” And intellectually, that’s really smart. Emotionally, though, you want to try everything. Personally, I am looking at a lot of the ritual side of being a Hindu as (and I am embarrassed to admit this) developing good habits. There’s another saying – thirty days makes a habit – that feels right in application to this situation. Because it’s so new, it’s easy to try to convince myself not to meditate every day. “God won’t care if I don’t do that.” Well, in reality, if I don’t form the habits when it’s difficult, then I won’t do them when it’s easy, either.
I do know that I don’t need to form all of the habits of all traditions, though. I’m in overcorrect mode. I want to tell everyone I meet how wonderful this is, how difficult it is, what I’ve learned, etc. When I find someone who is willing to listen, the floodgates open. Another friend, who is pagan (for lack of a better term), confided to me that her significant other has been a practicing Hindu for years, but is reluctant to be open about it. And this little zealot inside wants to go, I don’t know, dress him in a dhoti? Take him to temple?
Thankfully there’s another side of me that is significantly more conservative and rational, that reigns that zealot in and says, “you really don’t have to tell everyone. Why don’t you start with a few things and add new things slowly?” It’s like talking about personal details or eating an entire bag of kumquats (don’t laugh – I did that once) in one sitting. Sometimes it can be too much.
And somewhere in there, I’ll find a balance of things, so that the practice becomes second-nature, much like the practices I learned as a child (so much so that when the Anglican priest comes on the scene, it only takes a few minutes to recognize him as such), and I can focus on the beliefs behind the practice.
Devotion = good. Fanatacism? Not so good. Here’s to finding a balance.