Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spiritual Airheads: the importance of balancing your realities

Every once in a while you'll run into someone who has immersed themselves so deeply in the spirit world that they've nearly forgotten how to manage in this one. You can tell these types by their airy disconnectedness, their inability to keep their feet on the ground, and a certain oo-a-butterfly distractableness which doesn't, in this case, require a physical butterfly. If you watch them for very long, you'll notice that the more stressful the situation, the more airheaded these types become; if forced to keep their attention on the physical world they become nervous, depressed or combative. Besides deeply frustrating those around them, these people are engaging in another problematic behavior: using the spirit world for personal escapism.

One cannot entirely blame them. The reality beyond this one is infinitely richer and deeper than the physical world alone, full of wild adventures and fascinating inhabitants. A skilled world-walker can, moreover, avoid trouble in the spirit world much more easily than in the physical; it's much easier to escape an attacker when we can fly or teleport or call powerful allies to our aid. But the spirit world's seductions do not excuse one from caring for one's body or responsibilities. Worst of all are those who neglect their loved ones because facing the physical world's trials and humiliations and bouts of grinding boredom is deemed too difficult for them to bother with.

How do I know about such people? Personal experience. I have been both the distracted spirit-head, and the person hurt and neglected by a distracted spirit-head. I understand the condition intimately. I also understand the basic reason why people become like that. Material life is hard. Rewards and victories are often hard-won and inadequate to the amount of effort put in. Justice is hard to come by. Most of all--and often the reason behind the other reasons, is the simple fact that a lot of people in the material world just suck.

Yeah, I said it. I know I'm supposed to be all about the peace, love and enlightened tolerance, but after ten years in one of the crappiest neighborhoods in the Bay Area, I don't have enough illusions left to pretend to be perfect. My basic love for humanity is intact, but that doesn't prevent me from noticing when others are being greedy, abusive, spiteful, childish, lazy, self-indulgent or otherwise assholish. Your spirituality will only do so much to help you cope when your landlord turns out to be a drug-addicted cult member and scam artist, your neighbor gets jealous that you have a real job and spreads vicious rumors about you to building management, or your neighborhood's crime rate goes through the roof. Practicality, good boundaries and a willingness to face the material-world crap will do you a lot better. Running off to dance with the spirits and ignoring the problem will not help you one damn bit.

The shaman must find balance. She or he exists with a foot in each world, and neither footing is more important than the other. Lean too far to one side and one loses contact with one's soul-half, one's allies and spiritual power; lean too far to the other and one's mundane life will collapse from neglect. To this end, it is always important to work in both worlds when you really want something to work out: ask your spirits for aid all you want, but be willing to put in at least as much physical world effort. Yes, "real" life is painful and confusing and many of the people you meet will be up to some degree of bastardry, but you disrespect both worlds by using spirit as a hiding place--and you leave yourself vulnerable to serious harm.


  1. Well said! I did a post myself about balancing what you preach and what you practice this week :) We seem to think along the same lines.

  2. You did? Awesome, I'll go check it out. You know what they say about great minds...or greatly warped minds, in my case. ^_^