“The price of getting what you want, is getting what you once wanted.”
– Neil Gaiman, Dream Country: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I don’t know that I’d ever make a good Buddhist. One of the central concepts of Buddhism is that of the Four Noble Truths. It breaks down something like this:

  • Suffering is a part of life.
  • We suffer because we crave things, and we become attached.
  • To eliminate suffering, we must eliminate our craving and attachment.
  • The fourth truth basically says “Here’s our recipe for achieving #3, follow it (The Noble Eightfold Path) and you can become enlightened.”

Like most people, I think the early part of my life was spent in the endless pursuit of stuff. Get a better job to afford a nicer car and live in a bigger place with nicer stuff. Rinse and repeat. Bit by bit over the last few years, I’ve been reversing that trend. Sometimes voluntarily, other times not. At an ever-increasing pace I seem to be either giving up or losing the things I used to consider essential.

This has had some benefits. I’ve been able to strip away a lot of the unimportant things in my life. Unfortunately, I also lost some of the things I didn’t want to give up along the way. I can’t help it, but I still crave some things and I still become attached. I don’t WANT to lose my close friends or relationships, and I don’t know that it will ever be easy for me to do so. I don’t know that I will ever be fully able to give up attachment to those connections. I’m not sure that I want to. Moving around a bunch as a kid meant always losing my friends. Now as an (alleged) adult I’d prefer to keep those contacts if at all possible. Is that really being possessive? Maybe it is when you consider that I am asking for time and attention from someone else. Maybe it also means that I’m avoiding the lesson of learning how to let go.

I do look forward to giving up more “stuff” though. I’m becoming a fan of “experience gifts.” The idea is that you give an experience instead of a thing. Take someone to dinner, make them dinner, spend time with them, even something as simple as buying them a movie ticket. That to me sounds much better than giving a person something that will sit on a shelf collecting dust for the next ten years.

Enough of that. (Enuff about stuff)

Tai Chi is starting to become really fun. I still don’t know the moves and get all crossed up at times, but I’ve found that by focusing my mind on the simple things like balance and the placement of my hands and feet I’m able to clear my mind much more effectively than by any other method I’ve tried. The last couple of weeks I’ve felt like I floated out of the building at the end of the lesson.

The class was also something of a test case for me being able to have some sort of life outside of work. It’s only one night a week, but I’ve worked a ton of late nights this year, and out of the four weeks I’ve attended this class I’ve already come close to missing it twice. Some recent changes at work will hopefully cut down on the chaos and allow me to complete the class.


1 Comment Posted in philosophy, thoughts

One Comment

  1. Mopey Headed F@#kstick

    You’d make an excellent Buddhist in my opinion, to question your path to date is more than most are willing to do. I’ve been thinking about Tai Chi myself the last couple of months. I’ll have to give you a buzz and see if you can give me a good place to start.

    Be Well!