Saturday, January 30, 2016

Innumerable Trails: A Reflection on Choices

We’re old backpackers; we have hiked up various high trails in the Sierra Nevada’s and down many a descent-track into the Grand Canyon.

Similarly, the ascent of life/existence itself has innumerable trails that lead off in many different directions.

However, too often, we humans forget that fact, that there are so many alternative ways, and instead get caught in an Either/Or fallacy of 'trials.'

I got caught there once—made the worst decision of my life, one that would cause me seemingly endless grief and others, especially my close family, plenty of problems, too.

The split in the trail came one bright sunny day—really splendid weather outside—where I stood on the sidewalk between 4-story classroom buildings at Long Beach State in California in the fall of 1966.

The memory has remained so vivid, so option-able since I stood undecided looking up/down two entirely different routes, conundrum-stopped at 50% to 50%, uncertain which way to go.

I stood there torn between the atheism highway of most of our brilliant professors and knowledgeable fellow students


the Christian religion of my past childhood and youth.

At the time, there seemed to be only two choices--an Either/Or.

If I had to do it over again, I would still opt to take the trail away from atheism—for that philosophy, besides being essentially negative (emphasizing "from a- "without"), mainly represented what was wrong including subjective and relative ethics.

But this time around—if I could live again, was able to revise/revisit my life journey, I would never choose religion as a path.

The latter led mostly to years of false promises, delusion, trials, deep despair, and hopelessness.

Thankfully, that is only part of my life's arduous journey.

A number of times, I have backpacked on dangerous primitive trails in the Grand Canyon.
But once, on one hardly used trail it was extremely dangerous. The path thinned to only one foot wide, with a drop-plummet of at least 2,000 feet almost straight down to my left.

And there were rock slides I had to crawl over, and wind gusts of about 20 miles per hour pulling on my backpack!

Let me tell you, truthfully, I got very scared, and I promised myself that if I ever got off that trail, I wouldn't ever take it ever again.

Since, I am writing this you know I survived:-)

Plus, I got to see a small herd of seldom-seen Big Horn Sheep,

and a growling fox warning me off the trail's switchback;
and I almost stepped onto a very large
curled-up rattlesnake on the walk path, too. And so many
geological layers of vividly colorful rock dating back
multi-millions of years ago.

Dangers! But now, I look back on on that dangerous trip and am filled with wonder and almost joy.

I wish the same could be said for the dangerous 'trials' I took in religion.

But those chosen pathways have caused so much hurt and harm to so many humans.
And many have plummeted over the edge,
and even worse many of religion's leaders
glory in that fact:-(

I am so glad and thankful to be free from religion! Now I go to the Church of the Swimming Pool
and Book Club, and live in the Light
of Reason and the Good.

Daniel Wilcox

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