Gestation vs. Apathy: the art of divine failure

The water bowl on my shrine stayed empty for almost two months. Well, it felt like two months. Even if it wasn’t, the fact remained the same. Every time I walked by it, every morning, every evening, there it was. Empty. And not only empty, but caked in like weird white flakes? Maybe salt deposits? It desperately needed washing, caring for, then to be re-filled. I mean, how hard is that? It’s not a big bowl. It’s tiny. It’s a seriously tiny bowl…

But every day I walked by and didn’t do it.

It started with my absence.

I felt the call to write this post-water bowl filling to explain my absence and to muse on a spiritual opportunity that came up for me that I didn’t recognize or seize. Divine Failure at its finest.

What happened in this moment of “I don’t wanna” “I’m not interested” “I’m not going to”? Why does that happen after months and months of dedication? My theory is that we need it. We need those moments of aloneness. Our bodies need those moments of reflection and care. For all outward motion there must be an equal inward movement. For every peak, a valley.

But that’s in a perfect world. That is without Divine Failure. So what happens when we don’t seize that opportunity? For me, it was apathy. I didn’t know what I believed in anymore. The loudest voice in my head was telling me it was all fake. Metaphysical phenomenon was bullshit. I didn’t read astrology. I abandoned my tarot deck. Didn’t meditate. On a certain level, I stopped talking to my friends. I didn’t go to classes…I didn’t even fill up the water bowl. I didn’t care.

It wasn’t until I started to hear a smaller, quiet voice beneath the loud rumblings of my Apathetic Self saying, You do care. You’ll come back to it. It’ll be okay. You’re just away for a while and it’ll still be here when you come home, that I recognized an opportunity was knocking. Gestation was a possibility.

So how do I begin to not only recognize, but seize this awesome opportunity for spiritual gestation, rather than the inevitably of apathy? And how to I recognize it sooner? How do I avoid Divine Failure?

1. I don’t. I’m never going to get it “right.” My whole life is a practice of divine failings.

2. With rule number 1 in mind, I remember to not take myself so seriously.

3. I take basic care of my body, whatever is easiest and can be maintained as a baseline of engagement (For example: eating somewhat well, exercising or stretching once a week at least, taking a vitamin, taking a baths, having a cup of tea, etc)

4. Doing the time. If I am part of a group, I don’t stop going. And if I can’t go for whatever reason, I stay connected by participating in my aloneness, rather than drifting off into a Netflix binge….ya know, just for example.

5. Remembering that spirituality and engagement can be simple. There’s no one with a rule book that is saying I am doing it right or wrong. I remember I am learning the lessons that I am meant to be learning, in every moment. Remembering that I fail, but failure doesn’t mean defeat. Failure means yet another opportunity to be a divine human being.

6. And although I may feel the need to be alone, I remember that I never am. That my life is intimately connected to every one around me. And though it may seem like my experience exists in its own bubble, the universe is not a vacuum. There is always someone going through this with me.

7. I remember to not take myself so god damn seriously.

I am writing this because I am out of my bubble and back into what I consider a “normal” level of engagement. I am wondering if anyone else has been going through what I just went through. Partly because I know that this is going to get harder and harder in the world that we live in. Apathy can be the enemy of the Activist. But Gestation can be the perfect companion to Engagement.


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