Attachment leads to suffering, this is a fact of life. To the extent that we are attached to a particular outcome, we are also setting ourselves up for possible disappointment, heartbreak, or incomprehensible grief, and yet, if you’re going to live life fully, I don’t believe there’s any way around some attachment. You’re going to be attached to the people you love beyond words. You’re going to be attached to the idea that you can hug them and laugh with them and hear their voices. You’re going to be attached to their good health. You’re going to be attached to the idea that they live life in a way that feels good to them. If they’re taken from you, or you’re taken from them, suffering is inevitable. When we love, we make ourselves vulnerable, but not loving is not living, not really. So suffering is part of the human experience.
You can certainly limit and lessen the amount you’ll suffer. You don’t have to allow yourself to be attached to a pair of shoes, or the idea that you’re going to marry someone you’ve known for two weeks. You don’t have to allow yourself to be so attached to your ideas and opinions, you alienate the people who love you most. You don’t have to allow yourself to be attached to being “right”, or winning every argument, or being seen as infallible. You can mitigate the amount you suffer by practicing non-attachment and curiosity. I say it all the time when I’m teaching. “Keep breathing consciously, and try to stay curious about your experience.” That’s a great way to move through life, too, right? Staying present, and allowing things to unfold. It feels a lot better than grasping, or manipulating, or trying to force or control. Entering a relationship that way is ideal. Just being receptive and awake and aware, and seeing how things go. Opening yourself to the experience of getting to know someone, so you can see if it’s a good fit, whether we’re talking about a new friend, or a romantic interest, or a potential business partner, rather than projecting a whole set of ideals that may or may not be there.
When we come from need, we’re not in the power seat, circumstances are. If things go the way we want them to, we’ll be happy, and if they don’t, we’ll be miserable. We are now at the mercy of things outside ourselves, over which we have no control. The only thing you can hope to control is yourself, and even that isn’t easy. You can’t dictate what other people will do, or say, or want, or need. You can’t pick and choose the experiences life is going to put in your path, but you can work on the way you respond to what it is you’re given; there’s a lot of power in that.
If you pursue your passion, for example, that thing that lights you up, that sets your soul on fire, it may not make you rich, but what a great use of your time, your energy and your gifts. When you allow yourself to be pulled, deeply, by what you love, you live. It may hurt, it may not unfold exactly the way you hope, but at least you’re on fire, you’re lighting it up. I’d take that any day over apathy, lethargy, or boredom.
When you love the people in your life with everything you’ve got, when you love out loud, that just feels so good, to you, to them, it’s just a great use of your heart. To the extent that you do that, you may also suffer. Nothing hurts more than the gaping hole that’s left when we lose someone we love, no matter what you believe. I would say, do the part you can, give everything you’ve got. Say out loud what’s in your heart regularly, so there’s no doubt in your mind that the people in your life know how you feel, and there’s no doubt in their minds, either. Let the reality that we don’t know how much time we have with the people we love, inspire you, not terrify you. Be smart about your attachments, but where you’re attached, go ahead and do it fully.
Sending you so much love,