About Those Posts...
It’s that time of year when everyone is making posts about the previous year and the upcoming year. Here’s my thoughts on what I've seen:
According to my Facebook and Twitter feeds, last year sucked for a lot of people. It’s not surprising. There was a lot of suffering going on in the world.
I know last year was fucking terrible for me. I feel like I could easily write out a list as long as my arm detailing every awful thing before I ever got to the legion of general worries and fears that threatened my thoughts almost constantly during the past year.
I don’t want to do that though.
Why? Well, it’s probably not for the reason you think.
The problem is that it’s not helpful. That type of thing always leads to some sort of comparison in our minds, even if we don’t say it aloud, and I don’t want to compare anything because we almost never compare things in a helpful manner. Plus, I don’t want you to do it either.
Look, sometimes I am going to have it harder than you. Sometimes you are going to have it harder than me. And sometimes that guy over there? He’s going to have it harder than either one of us could ever imagine in a million years. And while he’s suffering so intensely in ways we cannot imagine, there’s someone else, somewhere else in the world going through something even worse. However, that doesn’t make my pain or your pain any less painful to us…because we experienced it and when we were experiencing it that’s what we know—our individual pain—and that’s all we can deal with at that time. And pain, even if we attempt to quantitify it, is still pain and being pain means it is terrible.
When we compare those sorts of things, like our pain to someone else’s pain or even our terrible event to a worse event, we’re discounting what we went through in a way that does nothing for us but make us feel worse: “I can’t believe I let all that stuff bother me, man. My troubles are nothing…just nothing.” Or “Why can’t I be like X, if I was more like X I could deal with this better?”
That starts our minds going and it causes a whole snowball effect of thoughts and worries and fears and desires. Then, inevitably, something else bad happens, because bad things happen, and the whole nasty process either begins again or the snowball becomes even larger and our suffering grows and grows.
Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. I bet at the start of 2013, you didn’t write: “2013 is totally going to blow ass!”
The truth is that you don’t know anything about 2014. It could be an awesome year! But it could just as easily be another shit year. Or it could even be just a year, a regular old year, neither good nor bad. The only thing any of us know is that 2014 will be.
We have no say over how the year is going to go. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, our actions, and our thoughts. And that’s where we can make the difference in 2014, not just for ourselves but for everyone else. When we recognize what we do have say over and what we don’t, then we can begin to deal with things as they are, not as we want them to be and not as we think they should be.
I’ve seen all these people making these posts about how they're tired of "living in the moment" or "trying to live in the moment."
The thing is though, it's clear from their post that they weren't doing that anyway. Being present and engaged with right now is NOT the same thing as trying to turn every single experience and second that ticks by on your clock into a Basho poem to be mulled over and plumbed for deep philosophical insight.
You know what that is?
Well, it's spending your time and thoughts and energy trying to turn every single experience and second that ticks by on your clock into a Basho poem to be mulled over and plumbed for deep philosophical insight.
That? That you should totally give up.
There’s anything wrong with a list of resolutions. Making a list of resolutions can be helpful….If you keep your list honest and manageable.
This is probably by favorite list.