Archive for buddhist detachment

LESS THAN ZERO

Posted in musings, writing with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by kimmy

I’m so tired, but there’s no vacation from this life.  Must keep soldiering on even though I want to crawl into a hole.   It’s exhausting to keep up this cheerful façade; everyone presumes the vigor comes from some endless well that requires no maintainence.  They feel free to tap into it until it’s nearly dry and the gears lock up.

I am not a paragon of virtue, only a human being trying to live as well as possible without carrying the world on my back.   My efforts do not excuse others from theirs.  Have we ever seen evidence that coat-tail riding translates into success for the passenger?  Arriving at the destination doesn’t mean one has arrived; only that you’ve managed to show up.

It might be easier if they were happy riders.  But despite their loud claims to the contrary, they still want to hold onto their old habits and fears which makes movement nearly impossible.  What vehicle can travel if its brakes are set? 

Not that I really blame them actually.  There was a time when I, too, wanted all the trappings of a happy life without having to do the work to get them.  I wanted them handed to me on a silver platter.  Strangely enough when I was gifted a few, I had no idea what to do with them.  It was like being sent to live in Paris without any knowledge of the language or customs.  There’s no way to fake your way through it.

And no matter how much I repeat it, that lesson is always the last learned.  There is no easy way to obtain peace and contentment; you have to wean yourself from the pacifier and take those wobbly steps on your own.  If you want to walk, walk.  If you want to fly, fly.  No one can do it for you.

So it seems I must shake off my hangers-on because not only do they drain me, they have no real idea of what awaits them.  Their enthusiasm will sour when they discover they’re unable to navigate the new surroundings and they will blame the pilot for error.

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DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

Posted in musings, relationships, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by kimmy

I couldn’t help but feel a tremendous amount of empathy for him because I know exactly what he’s undergoing.  If there was an easier route, we’d take it.  However, how many of us really know where we’re headed when pain grips so tightly that all vision is temporarily halted?

Having been through it more than a few times, I know that the reward on the other side is much greater than the effort.  However, first-timers are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenge.  It seems insurmountable, but that’s only an illusion concocted by the players.  If you extricate yourself before intermission, the ensemble will be short an actor and the drama suspended, causing resentment among those left onstage.  Pity we can’t send in an understudy…

Not that he would be welcomed.  A pinch-hitter is only as good as his predecessor.  It’s unlikely that he’s aped your habits well enough to fool the audience, or the blood demands of your fellow thespians.  So you must choose between your own wellbeing and that of the show.  Which will go on?

Of course the problem is that the longer the show goes on, the harder it is to leave it.  It’s like a long-running stage contract in Las Vegas or a sitcom with endless residuals.  It’s difficult to leave the steady paycheck and familiar routine.   And yet even these may not be enough for you, especially when you’re alerted to something greater beyond them.

Hence the quandry, which in essence is not conflict between others, but internal strife.  When you realize that the hot mess you’re in is of your own creation, suddenly you have no one to blame and the long watch begins.  It’s a lonely black night sitting with yourself, ruminating on all the detours you’ve taken.  You might rail against all those choices, despairing over your inability to hit the bull’s eye.  But who of us do on the first try?

You might feel ashamed that you didn’t learn sooner and had to involve so many people in your journey.  But how can you thank those who are ignorant of the role they’ve played?  Or angry and dismissive when you do?  No amount of explanation, however earnest, will convince them.  Just as you have, they must discover these subtleties on their own.

And they will… in time.  But for now you must sit quietly in the dark and wait.  The light of understanding will come, not carried on a tray by a rowdy host of friends and family, but slowly over the horizon.

ABANDONING REGRET

Posted in musings, social commentary, writing with tags , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by kimmy

What is regret anyway?  Another means of self-flagellation?  A symbolic gesture of conscience?  A frustrated desire to change the past?  If self-condemnation actually accomplished its goal and altered the past, the person you are presently would not exist.  Do we really believe we can change ourselves by mourning the past?

The reasons for regret are usually linked to unpleasant current circumstance.  We experience disappointment and immediately rue our actions, as if we were solely responsible for the event.  If only I had been prudent, this discomfort would not have occured.  But there is no way to predetermine any outcome, especially if other people are involved.

We tend to forget that people are masters of their own lives.  Changing our actions will not necessarily change them.  In fact, they might respond in ways that are completely unexpected. 

Furthermore, if we are so stubbornly vested in specific outcomes, perhaps we should examine our own neediness and control dependency.  Are we really so fragile that we must manipulate every detail?  

It’s been said that adversity draws out one’s true character.  In crisis, we are put to the test and must act spontaneously in response.  There isn’t time for elaborate rumination to decide which of our many faces to wear.  We act in the moment, prompted from honest intention or fear, and this unguardedness reveals whom we truly are.

What has it revealed about you?  That you are decisive, doing what is principled and right?  That you are joyful, acting from the heart and connecting to others?  Or that you are self-protective, taking whatever you can and running from the scene?

No matter which best describes you, it is what and whom you are.  No amount of remorse will change that fact.  Therefore, if you are struggling with regret, the struggle is probably with self-acceptance rather than with external conflict.  Conflict with others usually occurs when we are not honest and disguise our natures to conform to another’s expectation.

If you are behaving with sincerity, then there is no place for regret because you honor not only yourself but others, too.  Giving them the freedom to behave and react as they choose is equal to giving yourself the same.  Allow them to be and you will discover that you have been liberated from the bonds of expectation and attachment, and regret will become nothing more than a habit discarded.

IN THE END, IT’S ALL GARBAGE

Posted in musings, personal, public confessional, social commentary, writing with tags , , on May 9, 2009 by kimmy

As I hauled my worldly goods to yet another transient location, I had to laugh.  There’s something poignant, but ultimately hilarious seeing one’s life distilled to a couple of trash bags.  What was I holding onto… a dream, a handful of possessions, my security blanket?  As I hoisted them into the car, I wondered just how important they were.

Here’s a garbage bag full of winter clothes, ready to be stored until the snow flies once again.  I’m tempted to stop by the Salvation Army and leave it on the doorstep.  But of course that means that I’ll have to pick it up and move it yet again.  Surely there’s some poor soul who can use these fleece pants and shirts until the frost forces me back into them.

I never realized how many pairs of shoes I have.  I feel like Imelda Marcos.  Is it just a girlie affectation, or does the poverty of my youth haunt me still?  I cannot wear all of these at once, yet the thought of losing a single pair fills me with anxiety.

Why do I hold onto these dusty books?  I’ve read them over and again.  Is there some bit of wisdom that I’ll absorb by proximity?  How many times can I re-read Pride and Prejudice before its plot no longer captivates me?  No, I think I’ll keep it;  for the first time in my life, I understand why Elizabeth Bennet was so defiant in the face of adversity.

I want to throw it all away and walk unfettered into the next phase of my life.  Can I arrive unclothed and unshod?  Or must I carry these possessions like a talisman against the future?

MAKING AMENDS

Posted in musings, personal, writing with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2009 by kimmy

So, now that you know you’ve sacrificed hundred of things on the altar of fear, what are you going to do about it?   Think of all those things -people, tasks, relationships, obligations, duties, pleasures- all deferred just to keep the peace, a peace which in the end was never found.   Are you going to cower and blame someone else, again, for your choices, or will you step up and own them? 

The consequences of your actions lay bare; you can’t ignore them anymore.   They may have been committed in moments of weakness and doubt, but they’re still yours.  You can tackle it now or wait until later when the interest and penalties are impossibly steep.

This might be a bad time to ask, but what the hell were you thinking?  Hiding behind another and pretending is no way to live.  Did you think the charade would last indefinitely?  This is not a Cinemascope production.  The characters will not ride off into the sunset.  They will sit in front of you, gradually growing older, until you decide to address them.

And what can you say except I’m sorry?  You don’t have any excuse.  Haven’t you been plugging away at your practice, chanting and contorting for realization?  Well, here it is, sister.  Better take a long hard look because it’s got your messy fingerprints all over it. 

Not so pretty after all, is it?  Maybe not, but it’s still yours.  Why don’t you just pick yourself up?  If you expect the onlookers to help, you’ll be lying on that floor forever;  everyone’s waiting for you to stand up and help them.

PROFOUND STILLNESS

Posted in musings, personal, writing with tags , , , , , , on January 31, 2009 by kimmy

I’m hanging on a moment that stretches out before me like a map.  I lean into its elasticity and it waves under and through me, yet I’m not prompted to reach out and clutch it.   This ride cannot throw me off because I’m interwoven in the mesh.

And so together we elongate, stretching into infinity like the waves of a bell.  I can’t remember what I did yesterday or even an hour ago.  Those trifles don’t exist anymore.  There’s only this moment and it’s moving in all directions.

Why was I always so afraid of endlessness?  I only vaguely recall that it used to trigger panic in me, as if something without beginning or end was a threat.  What possible danger does this cradling pose to me?  It holds me fast in its weave and I’m happy, knowing that my little thread is part of an unending whole.

But my brain is on temporary hiatus.  Tomorrow it will awaken and refuse to believe that I left without it.  It will invent countless excuses for my present experience, baiting the hook with fear, hoping I will forget my solo flight.