The number of ways in which I was a teenage nerd was legion. Debate nerd. Drama nerd. Band nerd. Model United Nations nerd. Comedy nerd. Pottery club nerd. (I'm not making that up.) And finally, philosophy and spirituality nerd.
Who could blame me? You try growing up in a Bahá'í household in suburban Seattle with a father who was a sewer truck dispatcher/abstract painter/science-fiction novelist and not become a geek. Good luck with that. But the great thing I did experience was a household FULL of eclectic and occasionally profound ideas. Our bookshelves were stocked with poetry, holy writings, art books and cheap science-fiction paperbacks. Those bookshelves were my brain's incubator -- my brain-cubator, rather. (Hey, I just made that up!)
America, I'm still a nerd. But as I got to be well-known as an actor, I felt this pressing need to create something good and beautiful on ye olde internet. The Huffington Post and Boobs.com notwithstanding, most of the web is a wasteland. And I thought about all those The Office fans in their teens and 20s who, like myself at that age, might want a safe place to explore the meaning of life and what it is to be human.
So I started SoulPancake. What is SoulPancake? It's a website and a book that explores all the questions that make us human. I believe our lives are full of questions. Our journey, from crib to coffin, is made up of us wrestling with these questions. Stuff like:
* What's one tiny change you want to make today?
* Soulmate in Seven: Describe your soulmate in seven words.
* Scribe to Skin: What quote, lyric, poem, or piece of prose do you love enough to want permanently imprinted on your body?
* What personal dream have you totally given up on?
* What's your two-word poem?
Or my personal favorite:
* Why is talking about God so dang awkward?
I like thinking of life as a kind of creative and spiritual journey. And that's why SoulPancake was founded -- to fuel this transcendent adventure of our lives. Also, to potentially chat up cute hipsters in skinny jeans and flannel who are "virtually" exploring Life's Big Questions at coffee shops in all corners of this great, messed-up world. If we spent as much time talking about God, love, mortality, and beauty as we spent talking about our cell-phone service providers, I think we'd be better off as a species and a culture. Call me old-fashioned, but I like a good 3 a.m. coffee- and/or drug-fueled debate!
So today, dear reader, your challenge is:
List the 5 questions you HATE not knowing the answers to.
Here are mine:
1. Do we really have free will?
Personally, I believe in an all-omniscient, creative power that courses through the fiber of this and many other universes to come. That's just me. (Bill Maher, roll eyes here.) But if that's the case -- if this all-powerful force sees everything -- does that mean my choices (which feel so tangible on a moment-by-moment basis) are seen by one who doesn't experience time the way we do? And if they're seen, are they predetermined? It's a real puzzler for me. And for stoned college students the world over.
2. Who really shot JFK?
There are so many question marks about this one. Really? It was one guy with a rifle in the book depository with connections to the mob and the KGB? But he did it all on his own? It's the first fucking question I'm going to ask my loved ones as I make my way down that tunnel of light to the kingdom of eternity.
3. How the hell will humanity find a way to live in harmony with itself (and with our planet) -- and will we have to destroy ourselves in order to get there?
The best I can do is to do my best. I drive a Prius and recycle batteries. I try and raise my son with values and a global consciousness. But all the current systems -- political, environmental, economic -- are so broken and out of balance. I truly believe humankind needs a spiritual revolution to transform itself. But are we going to destroy ourselves first? Another puzzler. Only this one tends to get me really depressed.
4. Why the hell did I buy an iPad?
It looked so damn snazzy, and I'm an Apple geek as well, but I never use it! Did I ($800 later) fall victim to crass commercialism? I like to think I'm above that, but am I any different than my son, who wants whatever sugar-laden cereal happens to be showing in the ad before whatever cartoon he's watching?
5. How can I know greater peace and humility in my daily life?
I don't want to go all Eat, Pray, Love on your asses, but it's the spiritual challenges in our day-to-day lives that I find the hardest. Staying present. Truly listening to people. Keeping my heart open. Living in gratitude and not resentment. Breathing. Releasing my caffeine-induced anxiety on a daily or hourly basis. Finding some freakin' balance. Ya feel me, homies?
OK HuffPosties, now it's your turn. Give it a shot right here on ye olde comment board. Reveal something about yourself. Take a risk. Dig deep. Ready? Go!
LIST THE 5 QUESTIONS YOU HATE NOT KNOWING THE ANSWERS TO.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more