During the last year, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I am no longer immortal. I now know that someday (in the really not very distant future as far as futures go) the nothingness I was before my birth will take over from this blip of frenzied awareness I’m currently experiencing. My atoms will disperse into the nearby universe and my Self as I know her will completely cease to exist. I accept this in the visceral, daily way I’ve always accepted sunlight and rain and autumn. And as I came to understand that I am mortal, I felt I truly became it.
This wasn’t always so. When I was a child I had magical powers and everlasting life. My parents taught me I was a powerful demigod from another dimension, here to save the world. I knew it was true.
I was born into a fringe religion known as Church Universal and Triumphant. (Calling it a “fringe religion” is a nice way of saying “cult,” just like “mainstream religion” is a nice way of saying “very successful cult.”) Most members refer to both the organization and its doctrine simply as The Teachings. I still love the way that sounds… The Teachings. To me, that phrase will always have the same profundity as One True Love, Positive Thinking, or Inner Beauty: important stories we tell ourselves to imbue the mundane with significance.
(Not to knock significance, per se. I’m a lifelong fan of imbuing the mundane with significance. Doing so remains one of my favorite pastimes. In fact, it almost certainly must be done in order to survive our short lives.)
The doctrine of The Teachings did not state that all of its members were demigods from another dimension. All its members were put in embodiment to save the world, naturally, but we were taught that in particular the children born or raised in The Teachings were very advanced souls capable of incredible things.
Not only was I soul capable of incredible things, but I was privy to a whole host of Truths about the world that most people didn’t know. Most parents tell their kids relatively innocuous lies about the world, like the Tooth Fairy. The ones I was told were much more imaginative, but at the same time, losing them as I grew up was a bitter disappointment.
These are My Top 5 Most Disappointing Lies:
1. The entirely of the original Star Wars trilogy is true. George Lucas actually lived a past life as Darth Vader and as he wrote the films he was remembering his past life in yes… a galaxy far, far away.
2. I am an Avatar; a spiritual warrior of great power and light who has embodied to lead the world to the coming Golden Age.
3. As I age, I will gain powers like telekinesis and astral projection that I will use to fight the hordes of Nephilim and Forces of Evil about to descend on planet Earth.
4. Fairies, gnomes, elves, aliens, demons, and angels are real. It’s possible to see and communicate with them. I spent most of my childhood playing outside, building fairy homes and trying to will the magical beings of nature to be my friends.
5. I have lived and died for millennia in a cycle of reincarnation. Many of my lives took place in other dimensions. I had awesome mystical powers during those lives and almost certainly spent lifetimes in places like Atlantis and Lemuria.
A few other things I was told were not disappointments. I’m relieved that my vivid nightmares and childhood daytime hallucinations are not real. When I fight demons in my sleep, I am not fighting them in another dimension; I am processing an unfortunate combination of food and stress.
I actually left The Teachings when I was a teenager. Nearly all of my peers in the Church and every single one of my six siblings has also left. My dad left The Teachings in the late 80s after an Armageddon scenario played out with our family living in a bomb shelter in southwest Montana for a few days, waiting for a never-to-be nuclear strike from the nearly-defunct USSR.
The understanding we all gain by our teen years that our parents are fallible human beings was really what eroded my belief in myself as demigod from another dimension, here to save the world. After all, my parents were the ones who taught me what I was. They divorced and became people. I grew up and instead of magical powers, I gained breasts and hips and acne. The evidence against the whole story was clear, but much of the mythology stuck with me.
In many ways, the knowledge of my normalcy is a gift. Because I’m not an immortal, powerful being (who is surely just going through her Reluctant Hero years but who could totally summon and destroy a demon if she really wanted to) I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes. I’m not great at everything. I can be content if my life does not turn out to be a series of conquered summits and vanquished foes. It’s my life. In fact, it’s my One and Only Life, and I am free to do whatever I want with it.