“Happiness only true when shared.”– from Into the Wild
Trivia is a popular pastime in Boston. In sports-bars throughout the city, teams gather on various nights of the week to test their worldly knowledge and compete for small monetary prizes that just about cover a few beers and a plate of hot-wings. The games become especially competitive, I am told, in the bars around Central and Harvard Squares where players worship the science god with sacrificial offerings, although of course they wouldn’t describe it that way.
Our team, the Lucky Magillicuddys, doesn’t participate in those bloody coliseums of trivia. We play right here in da hood, although I am proud to admit that we have a Harvard graduate on our side, and a couple of other would-be geniuses masquerading as normal citizens. I am in awe of the Magillicuddys, and honored to be group captain in spite of being horrible at trivia myself. I am however pretty intuitive and good at settling disputes, so there you have it: it takes a village to win trivia.
Yes, in life it takes a village to do just about anything important because everyone’s gifts are needed. Even in trivia, each person tends to have specialities: Chatty Magillicuddy is well-rounded but excels in business. Hot-wings Magillicuddy (our Harvard grad and a ballerina to boot) is surprisingly good at sports. Veggie Magillicuddy has popular culture down. Grumpy knows a lot about music. Me, Kooky Magillicuddy, well, I know at least one little piggy ate roast beef. Trivia gives us a chance to celebrate our diversity and work together towards a common goal while drinking mojitos. It’s fun.
But it’s almost impossible to win alone. And even if you could, it would be rather sad eating all those hot-wings by yourself.
The exchange of gifts during Sunday night trivia makes me think about how we are brainwashed by popular culture to believe the opposite: that we can have it all. I think this lie is especially manipulative towards women: you can have the kids and the career and the husband and a smokin’ hot body and a wild sex life and still hang out with your girl friends and shop ’til you drop and get your Masters and bake lasagna and go to pilates and be a star on reality tv. But the truth is, you can’t have it all. Nobody has it all. That is why we need a community. To share and receive what we do not have and to experience the pure human joy that may arise from doing so.
I know this is not a popular idea. We want to see ourselves as independent, self-sufficient. But it doesn’t work. On top of that, what the media really wants us to think is that whatever we lack, we can buy, which is pretty much the same thing. It is so seductive: a world where we don’t need anything or anyone, where we don’t have to be vulnerable in front of others, where our every desire is only a phone-call away. And it’s so easy. It should be easy. If you’re not having an easy time of life, why then, something is wrong with you. Buy our product, buy our service. We will solve your problem. Go to college. It’s easy! Change your life. It’s easy! Change your insurance company. It’s easy! (Actually, that is pretty easy, but getting them to pay the money they said they would is another story). You know all those drug commercials? Listen to the woman’s voice as she describes the horrific side effects. Listen to the lullaby voice tell you about your increased risk of suicide. Take our drug. It’s easy! Lose weight. It’s easy!
But of course it ain’t easy, this journey of life, and the fact that nobody told us that in high school is a damn shame.
Over trivia last Sunday, Chatty brought up the Akashic Records. In case you’ve never heard of the Akashic Records, they are like a vast spiritual library of everything that is and you can’t just get in there by paying the cover charge. Chatty (he is a sort of spiritual lover, like me) suggested that if we could only access the sacred records, we could be set with hot-wings for life, meaning that we could be undefeated at trivia even at the Harvard and MIT bars in Cambridge. Alas, hot-wings and mojitos for life. It is a nice dream, but something tells me we are gonna have to work for those wings. Have I mentioned that I am also the oldest Magillicuddy? I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing. Really, I don’t mean to. I don’t even know how to spell Magillicuddy, and, as luck would have it, none of us are Irish. And that’s nothing compared to the all-Asian team that calls themselves Sexual White Chocolate.
Anyway, here’s the thing, dog: we can’t have it all because that would negate our need for community and we need others in order to grow, yes, and we are, as Abraham says, “growth seeking beings,” yes. But in addition to our growth depending to some extent on being in relationship to others, we all, I believe, came here with our own purpose. That purpose is related to how we interact with community, with what gifts we bring to that community. We want to try to grow in that direction, towards our purpose, not just in any old direction.
What I’m saying is that certain things like having access to the Akashic Records and infinite hot-wings simply may not belong to one’s individual purpose in coming here. You can’t just have things that don’t belong to you. No matter how forceful the media tries to shove that down your throat. Not having what doesn’t belong to you applies to people, places, experiences and things. And, if you take by force that which does not belong to you, you will wind up with disastrous long-term consequences that take you far off the path of delivering what is yours to give and that’s a real drag. Been there, woe is me.
And the fact that nobody told us that in school is a damn shame.
When I talk about stuff belonging to you, I’m talking about the purpose you came here with. I’m talking about the stuff in your spiritual DNA. There are things here in this world that will help you move towards the fulfillment of that purpose and things that will thwart you. We fools are so busy trying to have it all, or at least have the appearance of having it all, that most of us are far away from that purpose. We have all this stuff but are unfulfilled, depressed.
Of course, in our modern culture, we’ve all but lost the spiritual technology that is used to determine a person’s purpose in the first place as well as the spiritual technologies designed to help awaken and bring forth that purpose, but even without these technologies, we still have our inner guidance upon which we can rely, that is, if we have the guts to do that, to swim upstream of the idea of an easy life.