“Live fast, die young.”
“Work hard, play hard.”
Such quotes and hustle culture results in a lifestyle we feel we can’t catch up with. We delude ourselves into thinking everyone is ahead and we’re being left behind. We live in technicolour but then the colours start to blend into one, bleeding at the edges and talk becomes a tumult. Your thoughts can’t rise above the din as you sink into the details of your life, like getting caught up in a movie. You’re so engaged, so absorbed, so…lost in the emotions of the main character. You laugh with them, you cry with them but what we forget is that similar to a movie, we can switch off the daily show that is our life.
Without disengaging and returning to our inner world to integrate the changes and events of the external world, we start to live on autopilot, easily misled by the opinions of others, reacting irrationally on emotion.
It’s been a year and two months since I left Taiwan and moved to Dubai. Since then, Life has never presented a dull moment but that’s precisely why I find myself reveling in the peace and quiet of quarantine. Despite what friends might think about my solitary confinement, it’s been a most welcome retreat into my inner world.
Though I’ve been on my spiritual journey of personal development for a little over three years now, I’ve felt myself falter from time to time. The difference is that now, I’m aware when I’m off kilter and can pull myself back more easily than I used to. Healing doesn’t mean I’m now perfect. It doesn’t mean I have to or I will react calmly to everything. Healing means I will do my best because I know I can’t change other people, but I can change the way I choose to react.
How do we disengage and integrate? Some people do this by meditating and it doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed, a serene look on your face although meditation can be extremely powerful. Other forms of meditation can be getting lost in your art, reading until you realise it’s already midday and you’re hungry or taking a walk. Or being forced into quarantine. To meditate and allow your thoughts to flow freely, you will need space. A space for yourself where you can go to be yourself. It is in silence where we find peace but it is also in silence where we find answers.
They say, “Attachment is the root of all suffering.” But an attachment to what? Money? Material goods? A romantic partner? That’s the first thing most of us will think of. If you really expand on the idea, you might even say we can become attached to our status in society, our job title, our work, our identity or our family and friends, but let’s take that idea even further: maybe what most of us fail to see is that we’re attached to our storylines. The storyline of our life, the everyday events of what happened, where, what was said, how they acted and how you reacted. Most of all, we are attached to how we think the plot should play out. It’s no wonder why we get upset when things don’t go our way or when people don’t act the way we think they should.
Let go of that attachment. The hardest one of all attachments. Let go of expectation because if attachment is the root of all suffering, then as William Shakespeare once said, “Expectation is root of all heartache.”