Blog

Unhook The Fixation

Excitation is not what we think it is. We think it’s a good thing, but that’s not quite right.

Paying close attention to the experience shows the ordinary mind getting yanked hard in the direction of the object of excitement. It might seem as if it’s a delightful experience to think about this idea, but have you noticed that you can’t seem to stop? That you’re roped in? That it keeps coming back, yanking, pulling, dragging? It’s forceful! And dogged! And fierce!

And what has happened to equanimity? Gone! Completely gone!

Learning of excitation (auddhatya), you might begin coming back to the breath or to the koan. But man is it strong! Keeps yanking. Again and again and again. It is like a pit bull–powerful and sinewy–wanting to bolt after something it sees in the distance.

Does it feel futile now? Maybe, but

It needn’t. Can you, like an old man removing an old coat from an old hook, unhook the fixation deliberately, gently, almost gingerly? Can you unhook the fixation and walk out into the cold Wisconsin evening not long before sunset?

Without even thinking of bracing yourself, you’d find peace where it has always been: in a frozen pond and still, leafless trees and a faint path that leads you back home.

It’s OK To Be Weird…

It’s OK to be weird–so long as you don’t stay there forever.

The word itself has a weird history, its modern usage derivable from Shakespeare’s MacBeth where we read of weird sisters, wayward and wonderful, fantastical and prophetic.

Thus does weird come to take on the trappings of “the supernatural,” “the other-worldly,” “the wonderful,” “the uncanny and mysterious.” Later on, as the secular age unfolds, a weird one is simply thought to be “strange,” “odd,” “eccentric.” While the attribution of metaphysical powers has ceased, the feeling of unease around the felt-to-be weird one remains.

If, like me, you’ve been thought weird, then I say to you: it’s OK to be weird. Only, don’t stay here forever.

Three common options present themselves to you and none is a good place to rest. First, you can regard yourself as inferior to the rest; second, as superior to “the hoi polloi”; third, as simply different. And you might, in fact, find yourself cycling from inferiority to superiority to sheer difference–and back again.

Far simpler, and better, to embrace a fourth option: plainly, it’s just OK to be weird. Nothing terrible (inferior), nothing grand (superior), and nothing removed (different) about it. To embrace the OK-ness of being weird is to begin resting into equanimity (upekkha).

But you can’t stay here. Do you see why? Because doing so still holds in place the sense of separation from which “weirdness” arose in the first place. You need to make the journey home. Or home needs to find you.

“But I don’t want to be the same as all the rest!” (What are holding onto?) No need and besides that is a mistake too. To come home is to discover a perspective where a single reality makes possible the emergence of a multiplicity of differences. Realizing “it’s all one in the end” entails no longer making any fuss about apparent weirdnesses.

After all, all sentient beings, in some salient respect or another, are weird! And all sentient beings, in virtue of being this one reality, are as unweird as unweird could be! Ha, what a beautiful cosmic joke this is!

Just Get Off The Darn See-saw

I love work; I hate work. Love it; hate it. Awesome; sucks.

Man, what’s all the fuss, huh?

Oh, I get it; I see: you perversely looooovvvvveeee the drama, don’t you? Love fantasizing about stabbing your boss or living in Bali. Love pitying yourself, licking each resentment nightly. Love all the stories you can write about and talk about and tweet about and bitch about. It feels kinda goooodddd to complain, doesn’t it? Ooooooh, it does, it does…

Except that it really doesn’t. The whole thing is really sickening, especially when you keep getting those head aches and when your back is throbbing again and when you’re walking around, stewing in your anger. Sickening to feel that gnawing in the stomach. (Doctors only gave you a vague diagnosis: IBS, that black fuckin’ box.) Sickening sickening sickening to feel like a slave. Sickening to feel powerless, voiceless, cowardly.

Hand wringing!!!

You just wanna get outta this!!! Enough is enough!!! I am SO fed up with all this shit! Fuck this shit! Fuck! Fuck! And fuck that shit! You punch a pillow and yell and then punch a wall. Damn that hurt. Fuck, now my fucking hand is throbbing!!!

The self-pitying, combined with ice, now continues. You call your mom and she’s busy or only half-listening. Heard it all before, hasn’t she? You get 45 minutes with your therapist during which you rehash the same old shit.

“But I want to be doing something important with my life, and I’m wasting it!” You want to sob, but nothing’s there. Nothing’s ever there. What a mess you’ve made of your life. Fucking shit show.

Come on and settle down. Just see that it’s the see-saw, not the objects you keep getting fixated on. Take an enormous step back and look at the patterns: the ceaseless ups and downs due to the ceaseless ways in which you’ve loved job A but also hated job A, in which you’ve adored solopreneurialing B and loathed solopreneurialing B.

So simple, isn’t it? Just get off the see-saw. Stop the loves and hates.

Cuz when, if not right now, are you going to get off this see-saw? What–tomorrow? Please. Stop lying to yourself, stop wanting this to be so so hard, and just get off the see-saw.

Cuz work ain’t no thing. Just pick it up. Do it. And drop it at the drop of a hat.

Just chop wood and just carry water, right? Nothing to fuss over. Nothing it all.

And if you need, when you’ve come to genuine peace, to leave, then go on and leave. Only know this now: work–no, not of any kind of work–will not save you. Has not. Is not. Will Not. Because cannot.