How much do you think you know for sure? How many of your personal afflictions and torments, ailments and woes are indisputably real, I mean obviously, I mean there is no doubt I feel this way because, well, we are nothing if not in love with our own creations, all the conditions we quietly like to invent, and then claim we are powerless to control?
Are you gluten intolerant? Pretty sure? Feels sort of right? Are you a fresh recruit in the upstart army of bread-bashers and pasta-cringers right now animating a very excitable multibillion-dollar industry, even though it was a zero-dollar industry just a decade ago because, after all, it's bread. Wheat. Next to water, dark chocolate and latex fetish porn, it's sort of a staple. Just ask Jesus.
There is some interesting news. It is very likely you are not. Gluten intolerant, that is. Few people really are, few really have full-blown celiac disease. But it sure is interesting to notice how many want to believe they are, to note our mad, collective desire to locate and prove the existence of another new and famously delicious non-demon that's been around since the dawn of dawn. Oh, how we want to belong!
More interesting still? The more you believe such an ailment exists in your body -- and then have others agree and validate that experience -- the more it most certainly will. Belief creates symptom. Amazing creatures we are, no? Like flawed angels? Confused and broken gods, hurling lightning bolts at ourselves?
Before you wince overmuch, think about the WiFi you're likely using right now, the EMFs swimming around your head. Are you sensing them? Do you absolutely feel the tingle and zoom of radioactive doom whenever a hot gizmo is nearby, shooting its invisible devil rays through your genitalia and turning your cerebral cortex into Jell-O to the point of headache and nausea, and how dare anyone tell you it's not actually happening even though, well, studies show it's not actually happening?
You are far from alone. The modern world, it seems, is increasingly too much with us. To large numbers of people, the world is a snake's lair lion's den hornet's nest of imminent suffering, a million poisonous tentacles aching to attach themselves to your exposed soft tissue and leech away your money and your life force and your fetish porn collection. Bastards!
Unless it's not. Unless the world is sort of cosmically neutral, an infinite palette of divine possibility, and we have forgotten just how powerful we are to shape it toward the healthy and the luminous, and how nefarious the media and the lure of groupthink, how susceptible we are to suggestion and the timeless need to belong. The hypersensitive tribe. The gluten intolerant tribe. The money-mad tribe. The EMF sensitive, the zero willpower, the can't-quit-smoking, the keep-these-donuts-away-from-me, the everything-makes-me-sick.
And maybe it's true. Hell, Big Pharma and Monsanto, Chevron and the Republican Party et al certainly do not, on any level, have your best interest, your health, or the health of your children at heart. No one anywhere doubts that these breeds of demons -- chemical, religious, political -- exist, and will spare no expense to keep you ill, so that you will continue to blindly buy, and believe, and never dare to question.
But which ones are they, exactly? Is it not interesting to ponder? The idea that we actually create many of our addictions, afflictions and ailments simply by believing in them so passionately, so religiously, almost as much, if not more, than they actually exist in the first place?
Perhaps this idea makes you a little angry. A little woozy and sad to think it's all in your head, and you're duping yourself sick, or fat, or pasta-less, or it's-just-too-hard-to-quit...
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Mark Morford is the author of The Daring Spectacle: Adventures in Deviant Journalism, a mega-collection of his finest columns for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate, and the creator of the new Mark Morford's Apothecary iOS app. He's also a well-known ERYT yoga instructor in San Francisco. Join him on Facebook, or email him. Not to mention...