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January 9, 2012 Elephant

The Trouble with Paradise.

Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven. ~ Mark Twain

In the Buddhist tradition, we refer to our all too-human tendency to want everything to be perfect as God Realm. Boulder, Colorado, where I live, is in some ways a God Realm. Even better (or worse, rather), is a smaller, richer "community" like Aspen or St. Tropez or Cabo or any suburban gated community.

Pema Chodron talks about this God Realm tendency as always being unhappy with this present moment. If it's cold, we want to turn the heat on. Then, in the summer, it's too warm, so we turn the AC on. We go for a drive to the local grocery and complain about the 10 hot feet between our door and the car.

A funny thing happens on the way to "perfect"—we spend our lives irritated. We never relax with things as they actually are. We never make friends with ourselves. I'm pretty good, my relationship is good, my dog is good, my house is good...but I'm out of shape, or I'm lonely, or I'm pissed off: our journey to happiness turns into a realm of endless discontentment.

As Twain puts it, there's no humor in heaven. My grandpa made good money. He was stingy. My mom is broke, always has been. She's ridiculously generous.

Over four years of blogging with elephant, and five years as a magazine before that (yes: we're about to turn 10!), I've loved creating and working with our readers. 98% of us are positive, constructive, respectful, fun...or, at worst, don't leave many comments.

But then there's the 2% of us who are perfect. Those of us who are righteous—about our diet, our religion, our politics, our equality. As you've noticed if you read elephant consistently, some yoga folks (like some vegans, some feminists, far-right Republicans, far-left liberals) have no sense of humor.

And I'm here to tell you that's okay. That's what we're here for. Seriously uptight folks with stuff stuck up their yin-yang can't win. Recovering Yogi, a sister publication, and elephant are fighting the same fight against spiritual materialism. Whether that materialism comes in the form of too-easy clubhouse passwords or advertorial or withering attacks on those we regard as "other," PC won't win. As elephant grows and we get more editorial help (thank you Bob, Tanya, Andréa, Kate, Brianna) we'll be able to continue to raise the level of what we offer and sharpen our satire and soften our hearts. Frequently, in comments, I play a rather lose-lose game of making nice. Asking meanie commenters to be nice to an author they regard as out-of-line (even if I disagreed myself with the author). Sometimes, in comments, I go on the attack—and every time, I lose, and realize that my anger isn't righteous—it's mistaken. It's my bad.

So elephant isn't a web site, or independent media, merely. We're a community. We're a mission, in human form. We're here to keep things fun, real, serious, and gentle...all at once. Join me in exercising that disused American muscle known as the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable. Let's reintroduce respectful debate instead of the partisan football that our democracy has become.

This article is an example of that, as are the comments. I hope to see many more. Email us with your article or idea and join our independent, reader-created media enterprise.

Yours in working (and playing) to create enlightened society,

~Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis
editor-in-chief, host, Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis

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