I have been writing to you about this thing I call Project Earth. This is life. Or, perhaps I should say that this is us; billions of tiny creatures in a universal experiment. There are billions of people here with us and billions of people who were here before us. And life? Well, I suppose life is relative. I suppose our structures vary. Our relation to each other varies, depending upon culture, background and geography.
For example, I used to wonder what I would have been like or dressed like had I been born one town over. Or better yet, I wonder what my life would have been like if I was born someplace other than New York or born in the generation before my own.
I wonder if I would be a totally different person if I had blonde hair or blue eyes but everything else about me was the same.
Ah, the thought machine and all of its work. . .
The idea of being thoughtless is interesting to me.
Thoughtless, as in empty-minded. Or better yet, the idea of being at rest but not asleep or in a state of semi-consciousness where the mind experiences a natural state of euphoria. The mind is not thinking about anything in either direction; but instead, the mind is thoughtless or empty, arriving at a different plateau of subconscious awareness and, in the moment, we are both totally unaware and aware at the same time.
I know there are people who meditate at temples and experience what they call “the God-head.” I have been told of methods that are instrumental in achieving a state of total peace. However, as an avid overthinker, some of these methods were challenging to me.
I think of parents who are frustrated by their children. I think of parents who tell their children, “I just want the best for you” and they rant and they scream. I think of them and their frustrations and all of this comes down to one key term: control.
The truth is there is no control. In fact, the more we try to control life, the more out of control we become.
How many times have we yelled at machines that break down? How many times have we argued simply because the conversations did not go our way?
How many times did we lose sleep or sweat or blood because we were experiencing difficulties due circumstances that were beyond our control?
Think about aggression or interpersonal aggression. Think about the violations between people. Think about interpersonal hostility or, better yet, think about our perceptions of interpersonal activity. We judge and we diagnose, We act as judge and jury We condemn without knowing all the facts. But why?
Why do we condemn each other?
Of course, there are things that we see as outright evil. But there are times when people come with their own life and we see them but we only see so much.
I have found that I judge the most when I am at my worst. Adversely, I judge the least when I am at my best. Perhaps this is because it is easy to focus on my own life when I am at my best. At my worst, however, I finger point as a means of projection because I am angry or frustrated.
Let’s break this down:
Think about stress or the importance we place on subjects that are beyond our control. Think about the basic fear groups attached to the ideas of not being heard, valued, included, validated or acknowledged.
Think about the social, mental and emotional constructs of the mind which alter our perception as well as our personal presence and can often mislead us.
Now think about the detachment of ownership. None of this belongs to us anymore. No more arguments. No more need to be right or to be heard and should we be heard, then so be it. Should we be right then it would be no different than if we were wrong because there is no more attachment to right or wrong anymore.
Think about how much time we waste on fighting. Although, I grant that some things are worth fighting for. I grant that life as we want to live is worth the energy and the effort; but even still, think about this for a second. How often is our energy misused?
Still, I agree that our life is worth the effort. But more, my life is worth the effort. My heart is worth the effort and so is my sanity. This is worth the early morning wake-ups before the sunrise to find my center and create a sense of peace. This is worth the hours I put in to feed the parking meters, to feed the banks, as well as contribute my share to the rest of the financial institutions of the world.
I think about the problems at work or the person who works down the hall from me and their inability to say simple things like, “excuse me.” I think about the people who pass us and their inability to hold the door open for the person behind them. I think about the stressors of commuting life and people’s inability to show decency to the people around them. I think about the arguments I see on the streets and the various ranges of hostility that extend beyond race, religion, creed or politics.
I think about bills and the mortgage and the new ideas of changing my business plans. On top of which, I still have to earn my living. I have to keep my hours friendly with the corporate time clock. I have to stay on top of my chores and maintain basic things like my car or the cost of home improvements. I swear, life can be pretty crazy sometimes.
Life down here on Project Earth is far from easy. Nothing comes the way you want it nor does it come when we want it. This is life and, more often than not, life comes and hits us in unexpected patterns.
I think about that idea of being thoughtless. . . .
I think of my fascination with being weightless, of being free, absolute or complete. I think about the idea of finding myself on the perfect plateau or balanced in a state of bliss with no pain or stress, happily unattached and enlightened in a sense that, above all things, my mind is at peace.
The idea is to encounter a state of being in which I am refreshed and, beyond anything else, I am no longer hinged, dependent, dedicated to or contingent upon any outside sources.
I think about the incidents and the accidents that are beyond our control. Or better yet, I think of names like Jake, a two-year old who died from cancer. But there’s more than this. There is more stress each day and should I choose to enjoy my participation in this experiment or should I choose to enjoy my time here on Project Earth, then I have to find a way to maintain my sanity. This would entail the need to free myself from the rigidness that comes with my opinionated life. In other words, I am and forever will be the square root to my own equation which means my improvement begins with me and my ability to relate.
There’s no more right or wrong or my way or yours.
There can’t be.
There needs to be some more room between us or some give and take. Or better yet, there needs to be a sense of tolerance between us which means something has to give before the rigidness in our systems breaks us apart.
There needs to be an openness in our conversations.
Or else . . .
Or else what?
Or else it becomes too easy to drown in the social arguments of right or wrong, democrat or republican, right or left, and so on and so forth.
There was a time when I was part of a program in which I was told this was the only way to recover. I was told that nothing else worked and that if I fail or falter from the path, I would fall or infinitely fail, each and every time and that eventually, I would certainly die.
But wait, I’m still alive.
I had to get away from the right or wrongs and my ways or your ways. My improvement began with the realization that there are literally billions of people in this world. Each of them has their own way, their own life, and their own methods. In order for me to find comfort and peace, I had to let go of my useless and senseless arguing. To be honest, out of all the tricks that I’ve looked to pull off, this is one of the toughest for me.
First, I have to credit myself and say that I am better than who I used to be. I have improved, grown and matured. However, there are times when my moods will swing. There are times when my anxiety hits the red-line and my need to control outcomes puts me into a tailspin.
Secondly, I openly admit that the ideas of meditation or spiritual drives to improve my levels of consciousness were uncomfortable in the beginning. I never believed in meditation, at least not for me.
To me, the idea of being at peace and present or in the moment were ideas that seemed to be beyond my reach.
My struggle to relinquish control or to surrender to the moment was very difficult. My thoughts are like a scene of New York City taxi cabs on a mad rage to get through Broadway or 6th Avenue during rush hour.
The steps that I take are simple. I close my eyes and try to find a comfortable position. My body is extended. Legs are uncrossed and hands out to my side. Nothing is touching.
My breaths are deep and slow with each inhale beginning in through my nose, then a pause, and ending with an exhale through my mouth. I breathe in slowly and calmly until my lungs are full. My exhale is complete when my lungs are empty.
My eyes are closed. However, my mind was the trick.
I had thoughts and ideas that would come at me in droves. This triggered my thinking to believe that I would never relax.
This took work and, in an effort to improve, I had to give myself a focal point. I had to find a distraction to replace my thinking.
For example, I use a memory I have of the beach. Or, there is another memory from when I was out at sea on a tuna trip. I have pictures in my mind of times where there was peace. I use them as a source of inspiration. I use them to instill a sense of calmness.
The world is armed with massed gadgets of self-destruction, which is why I needed to learn different ways to find a sense of internal peace to administer a better way to practice self-care.
I am a person who has experienced loss. I have felt pain. I have lived with catastrophizing ideas. I have made money and lost it all. I have been fired. I’ve started new jobs. I’ve quit jobs and switched industries. I have invented myself as well as reinvented myself and to improve, I had to find a sense of satisfaction in the surrender to life beyond my control. In other words, I had to surrender to win.
Life is not about positions or possessions or money or wealth. Life can be miserable as a millionaire or as a poor person. I know this because I have met plenty of miserable millionaires. I’ve met people who live with next to nothing but their smile is ear to ear.
Come to think of it, there is a story about a man who lost everything. He lost all of his wealth and his family and although he missed his loved ones, he was happy.
He found a way to navigate through his depression and rather than fight the wars that no longer belonged to him, this man sought to find peace.
Could you imagine?
Losing everything to find yourself . . .
“I haven’t been in an argument in years,” the man said.
What an incredible life he must have.
Find your path. Let go of your distractions.
Be you. Be happy.
Be mindful that this takes practice.
Understand that meditation takes time, like anything else in this life; moreover, recovery takes time as well. Since our time is finite, our time is best invested wisely, to serve us in the long run: to keep us happy, to find balance and to be at peace with the reflection we see when we face ourselves at the end of the day.