The sun is rising now. Why is it that on the days I arrange to go in to work later, I wake up earlier? The anticipated joy of sleeping late remains anticipated. Somehow, I don’t think enjoying a latte in the early morning hours with just the cats and watching the sun rise is equal pay off for not sleeping in….but I could be wrong. The coffee tastes very good.
And perhaps it is just those little joys…a great tasting cup of coffee, a sun rise, a warm cat at your feet, sleeping in, listening to twist and shout on the radio….those things exactly that give the real meaning to our lives. It is not for others to decide whether our lives have meaning or worth of course, but our culture remains enmessed in external worth. Still, after all these years what you have determins who you are to yourself and to others. Perhaps it is a universal aspect of humanity rather than a local north american weirdness.
Growing up on the cusp of hippydom I embraced the non-attachment to a certain extent. Perhaps much more than some ex-patriots from the times that were. I have given up all my belongings several times in my life, started over with little more than my clothes and a few books and have never given much attention to the little voice inside pushing me to have bigger and better houses, cars, things, things, THINGS!
Yet I still have a house – disordered, in need of a paint and a few minor adjustments, but mine – a car – on it’s last legs I am sure each and every day, – furniture – something to sit on, sleep on, read on, and books – ah yes, attachment! Could I start all over again? Quite probably. My real attachment in this life is to people rather than things; the stuff, well, we use it to cushion us from others.
The people we cross our paths with – whether for a reason, a season or a lifetime – are our real belongings in life. Parents, siblings, children – they are the obvious teachers and extensions of our who-ness. But what of the difficult family at work? The brief time spent with a terrified mother to explain and reassure her in her fear for her child? Or the moments taken to talk softly to a crying child and figure out what it is they need?
It is so easy to pass through these interactions without really seeing. So much easier to be irritated, or even upset with the those that seem demanding and controlling than to look through the facade of controls and supports and wires that hold them all together and to see the real behind it all. To face their fear and pain and to off load it. A daring move.
And once we have, then what? Many many years ago I found the world’s pain too much to deal with. I was hurt by the news on TV, I was bruised by the emotions of others, I was raw from the onslaught of all the anguish swirling around and though human existence. I retreated into a small circumscribed circle of belonging turning off the TV, refraining from popular movies and the vividness of life. I needed to learn to bolster my defenses and find the constrast button to turn it all down. How did I do it?
Funny thing, I have no clue, but in the course of learning to mute the world’s pain, I learned to take on more of it without making it mine. I learned to diminish the vividness of life into managemable little packets of experience and to find that once the damper was in place those experiences of others that were too painful and that cause irritation and upset in me were now a source of connectness and meaning.
I think this is more and more what is needed to be taught and learned as life continues to be vivid, bruising and hurtful. The new slogan for the new world – Drop out, turn off, tune in and connect. And the stuff? Well, quit hidding behind the new chesterfield and take it out to the fire circle. Plunk yourself down on the cushions and stare into the flames; soon you will find the connections creeping out from around and though your jumble of overgrown defenses.