For most of my 63 year-old life I've had what could be called a Major Life Project. Meaning, an overarching ambition aimed at transforming not just part of my life, but all of it.
"Mystical enlightenment." "God realization." "Knowledge of ultimate reality." "Soul travel." "Salvation."
These are ways of saying what I aspired toward, though it's difficult to put into words. What propelled my Major Life Project since my college years was a feeling, an intuition, a drive.
I wanted to know... I wanted to experience... I wanted to be...
What followed those ellipses...? I wasn't sure. I had some expectations, some guesses, some theories. But all I knew, or more accurately, believed, was that it was possible for my life to change direction massively.
From illusion to enlightenment. From separateness to unity. From ignorance to knowledge. The Truth (with a capital "T") was Out There, or In Here, and damn it, I was going to find it!
Even better: to become it!
Now that I've embraced churchlessness after my spiritual deconversion, I've changed a lot. My current Major Life Project is to not have one. That feels oh so right. Yet can I prove that I've evolved, become wiser, more attuned to the cosmos?
No. And that's my point. I no longer have a desire to be truthier than thou. My life projects are different now, not nearly as grandiose.
I still have goals.
There's stuff I want to learn and things I want to do. I'm energized every day to improve -- though one of my top priority daily "to-do's" is Appreciate more fully what's right in front of you. That is, in addition to my substantive Minor LIfe Projects, I've got an empty one, a non-project.
Embracing what is. Turning away from should-be's and has-been's. Experiencing the present.
That non-project is completely compatible with my other projects, because I'm no longer interested in some distant divine goal. Talk of enlightened states of consciousness for which there's no demonstrable evidence... boring.
Life is short. Eternity is a fantasy. Infinity is an abstraction. Here and now strikes me as hugely more real than there and then.
I realize this sort of talk will strike those who believe in a Major Life Project as backsliding, giving up, turning away from an awesome pursuit of ultimate reality. Fine. I used to look upon people like me in that way also.
But now that I've become the me that I am, I see life from a different vantage point. Again, I'm not claiming objectively better. Just better for me.
At the moment one of the Minor Life Projects that's giving me (and my wife) a lot of satisfaction is learning West Coast Swing. Again. We've taken several series of West Coast Swing classes, most recently in 2009.
They didn't stick.
This dance style is pretty complicated, compared to other swing styles. Laurel and I had forgotten almost everything we'd learned. A few weeks ago we decided to dive back into West Coast Swing. We've had three private lessons and a group lesson. We're going to have more of each.
Is dancing West Coast Swing enlightening? Will it merge me with the essence of the cosmos? Don't know. Can't say. Most importantly: don't care.
I feel really good while learning and dancing West Coast Swing. My wife and I are enjoying ourselves. I watch dancers better than us and want to be able to come closer to doing what they can do. Which I can see, as contrasted with those airy-fairy claims of divinity that used to interest me so much.
After our first private lesson, the instructor suggested a couple of Canadian West Coast Swing champions as dancers to learn from. As soon as I got home I Googled "Myles Munroe Tessa Cunningham."
Watching them for just a minute or so, I realized that West Coast Swing was going to become one of my Minor Life Projects. (Minor just means not Major; actually, I'm much less inclined to divide the stuff I do into "minor" and "major" now; working in the garden feels about the same as getting a book back in publication.)
Here's the video that helped draw me to learn West Coast Swing. I get chills when I watch it. Are Myles and Tessa enlightened beings? Perhaps. In their own way. The only way that matters.
I also really like the video below of Myles dancing with a different partner. This is what life, truly lived, is: spontaneous, joyful, playful. (The dancing is improvised, led and followed without choreography.)