“Now you can enjoy and honor the things of this world without giving them any importance or significance they don’t have. You can participate in the dance of creation and be active without attachment to outcome and without placing unreasonable demands on the world: Fulfill me, make me happy, make me safe, tell me who I am. The world cannot give you those things, and when you no longer have such expectations, all self-created suffering comes to an end.”
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (226)
Monday night, during class, I realized how very often I attach expectation to things and situations. After graduation, I would have this, do that. A person who loves me would have this, do that. A good person would have this, do that.
It’s all very exhausting, really, and ultimately disappointing.
I realized that who someone or something from my perspective, is all about my perspective. I notice a pattern and assign names to qualities. I either like or dislike these qualities. Knowing very little about a person, I then fill in the gaps between them. And then, when they don’t act as if they have those qualities, I find myself hurt. Because who, having those qualities, would act in a non-quality way?
Yes, a rather major light bulb went off. I realized that I was practically living completely through people and situations. How could I possibly have time to learn to be myself when I was too busy constructing and condemning everything around me?
So Monday night, I decided to actively let go. And, boy, did two strange things happen.
Yesterday, I woke up late, didn’t walk, spent too long doing things I “shouldn’t” have done, and yet, a highly successful day, I think. I found myself in the “What can I do to make my life better right now” mentality, kept reminding myself of the big question, and I kept doing what I was doing. It wasn’t as effective.
Halfway through the day, I found myself hating myself already, not getting stuff done, not sticking to the experiment, and then I remembered I was letting go. It is what it is. I dropped the judgment, and that’s when things started to happen.
First was the contact from someone who has sort of popped in and out of my life for the past month or so. We move in the same circles, so to speak, and I had been hurt by his ignoring of me. I had contacted him before, to which he’d respond until he wouldn’t, and generally made a fool of myself. I felt, and was, embarrassingly silly. Monday night I realized how foolish I truly was (and not in a good way, I might add), and I decided to let go. To let go of outcome, to let go of, well, him, really, and all of the qualities and notions I had assigned to him. I wasn’t going to contact him again.
So, for the first time in weeks, literally, he emailed me, and we spent the afternoon chatting through email. We had our first real conversation in weeks, and it was a totally different experience. Not caught up in wondering if he liked me, wondering what he thought, walking on eggshells, I just talked. I was thoroughly engaged in what he was saying and yet completely detached from the outcome.
And I realized I liked it. A lot. Even if we never talked again, for a period of a few hours, this was a completely new relationship, a completely new thing. And I liked it. Apparently he did too, since he contacted me again, much later last night when my stuff was done.
I was tired, not as mindful, and I noticed the conversation was different. Not as easy. Maybe even strained.
And this morning, after a bit of sleep, I could see a stark difference between the detached conversation and the other, and it’s huge.
The second task of nonattachment I practiced yesterday was with clothes. Yes, clothes. I’ve had two bins of clothes from January which I had put back “in case they fit.” I was supposed to try them on in May, but I loathe trying on clothes, so I put it off and put it off and put it off. Since they’re at her house, my mom has been nagging me about doing them for a while, even put them out on the porch (which I had walked past several times without even seeing! ha!).
Yesterday, I figured a way I could make my life better right now was to get this over with, even if the only effect of it was to keep her from nagging. I didn’t want to do it for a few reasons. One, I simply hate trying on clothes. Two, these were bins from January, ones I knew I’d fit in from all my exercise and healthy habits 4 months later. Since the weight thing hasn’t changed that much, I really, really, really didn’t want to go through two huge bins of clothes which still didn’t fit. I didn’t want to deal with the disappointment.
I managed to swallow the disappointment which hadn’t happened yet, and carry on with the task.
Surprisingly, some of them did fit, and I now have at least a couple of interview outfits if anyone chooses to call me for an interview. And something neat happened: I found I fit in the dress I wore after my wedding ceremony. Now, this is surprising because I know I weigh at least 30 lbs more than I did then. It wasn’t loose when I wore it, so I’m not sure how it could possibly fit, but it does.
This has helped me in a way I’m not sure I can actually explain. When I started trying to live a more healthy lifestyle, I said I didn’t care about the weight or the numbers, but in the back of my mind I did. How could I not? I have so much to lose. And yet something is happening. I’ve been walking consistently since January, have been tracking my minutes since the middle of March (2301 so far not including June!) and I feel good. My endurance has increased, my speed has increased, and I’ve kept walking for walking’s sake. Had I been doing it for weight loss, I’d have given up a long time ago.
When I saw myself in the mirror between clothes changes, I was horrified. I am now 65 lbs lighter than my highest known weight five years ago, and I am horrified by the way I look in the mirror. I don’t know how to change this, all I know to do is keep walking, although I think that I’ll be adding free weights (which I keep saying I will but never do) and sit-ups to my regimen.
I don’t quite know how to detach from that image, but it’s a good goal, I suppose.