God Must Have Created the Bad Along With the Good

Running through the muggy night air with a mason jar and lid, chasing fireflies with all the neighbor kids. We wear big, crazy smiles, alternately giggling and screaming. Tomorrow all the fireflies will be dead at the bottom of the jar.

Diving into the blue water at the deep end of the swimming pool and sitting on the bottom with my best friend, Julie, playing tea party until we bolt to the surface, gasping for air.

Throwing rolls of toilet paper into the trees of the front yards of our high school teachers on a crisp Halloween night. A police cruiser drives by and we scatter like dry leaves in the wind.

Drinking Kool-Aid laced with grain alcohol and dancing to disco music at a college party. Later, I throw up in the bushes while my boyfriend holds back my hair.

I remember these moments in my life, fondly. Even though they weren’t all goodness and light. There’s an edginess to them. A wildness. The dark is mixed in with the light.

But as I’ve gotten older there’s been less wildness. It got to the point where I was spending the majority of my time going to work, doing chores, and partaking in bland entertainments like going to restaurants and watching movies. Maybe I’d throw in a little gardening and go to an occasional party. The year’s highlight would be taking a vacation.

John Cougar Mellencamp sang, “Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.”

To that I say, “Nooooo! I want some wildness!”

Yet, it would be kind of pathetic to repeat the wild activities of my youth. I have no desire to chase fireflies, toilet-paper yards, or drink grain alcohol. There’s a time and season for everything, and the time for those things is over for me. Those people who don’t respect the “time and season” law of nature end up embarrassing their kids, trying to be the “cool” mom. Or they hang out at nudist camps, displaying their sagging flesh.


Luckily, a few years ago I discovered my personal Divine. And he’s a wild one. Shiva propels me to keep things interesting. He’s the cosmic dancer, always creating and destroying. He’s always decimating the old and ushering in the new.

Untamed India

Shortly after I encountered Shiva within my own heart, I traveled to India to a spiritual retreat filled with people from all over the world seeking to strengthen their own connections to the Divine. I love this place in India because it merges the dark and the light in a way that’s perfect for the adult me.

Yes, we would do all kinds of spiritual processes designed to help us get closer to God. We’d wear our white clothing and spend hours a day meditating, praying, listening to teachings, and doing religious ceremonies.

But then, every night in the temple, we would release all of it and just dance. The monks and nuns would turn the lights down low and the music up loud. And we’d all close our eyes and just dance like maniacs. We could completely drop our identities, just feeling the music and our own crazy gyrations and the humid Indian night air. It was total freedom. When in our modern, serious adult lives do we ever get to do this? Just wild, ecstatic dancing without a care about how we look or whether anyone is watching.

One evening as I was twirling and jiving, I worked my way out onto the temple’s terrace and bumped into the railing. The jolt caused me to open my eyes, and right in front of me sat a large monkey on the railing, looking kind of vicious. I backed away cautiously. Ecstasy tempered by fear.

There were other late nights when hundreds of us would be lying in shavasana in the top floor of the temple after doing sacred processes. And some Chinese women, for unknown reasons, would scream. This was intolerable to a few British men who would shout out – in this holy setting – “Shut the fuck up!”

Light regularly mixed with dark in India.

Wild America

Come to think of it, light regularly mixes with dark in the U.S., too. Think of Donald Trump. Just when many of we American citizens were patting ourselves on the back for being so enlightened to have elected a black president, we then elected a white supremacist. And many of us, with more liberal leanings, have suffered psychologically because of this guy.

This is a person who stupidly bragged, while being recorded, that he enjoyed grabbing women’s genitalia, and they allowed him to do it because he’s a celebrity. This is a person who forced journalists at his campaign rallies to stay within the confines of a fenced-in area while his supporters shouted obscenities at them. This is a person who referred to all Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers.” And now that he’s president, he’s rattling his sabre at North Korea. If any president was capable of starting a nuclear war, he’d be the one.

The Donald Trump phenomenon has kind of shattered my mind. It’s been like a Zen koan; a mystery that can’t be solved. Why, when things seemed to be going well, did we revert to reptilian-brain behavior? Is “bad” always a necessary counterpart to “good” in this Earthly existence?

I have no idea. I was hoping we would evolve to a Golden Age of constant joy and ecstasy.

In the Vedic stories about Shiva there are always opposing forces: gods versus demons. Shiva shows no preference. He helplessly loves anyone who is devoted to him, whether god or demon. Shiva, himself, manifests as both the creator and the destroyer. In one aspect he carries weapons such as the trident and sword. His hair is dirty and matted, and snakes coil around his body. In another aspect he’s shining and beautiful, sitting on Mount Kailasa in perfect meditation with his sweet bull, Nandi, beside him.

It makes me remember that the highlights of my own life have had an edginess to them. A wildness. The dark has mingled with the light.

Aum Namahshivaya!

-Linda Hardesty




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