2013 has been a special year. I feel as if I’ve matured into adulthood in so far as I stopped trying to reinvent myself from a place of inadequacy or dislike. After years of striving to become someone greater than I am, I finally broke down and broke through to radically accepting myself. And in accepting where I am, who I am, the facticity of my existence, I was able to truly transform for the first time. Not by adding more to my identity but by stripping down to my fundamental core.
Because my values and worldview have shifted, I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things anymore. Except that excessively ruminating over the topic feels like a waste of time. I don’t regret any of my experiences, but I certainty don’t wish to repeat them.
Many changes happened this past year:
- I finished my RV journey by November 1, 2013 last year and sold it shortly afterwards.
- I moved in with one of my best friends and have old, close friends nearby.
- I joined the Sangha Family known as the Boston Shambhala 30s & Under.
- I purchased a barbell and regularly lift at home.
- I started seeing a therapist for the first time.
- I broke down and broke through to realizing the emotional baggage I have been carrying around. I learned to trust my instincts and emotions once again and let go of my desperate hold on rationality and intelligence both as the defining worthy parts of my identity and an armor protecting and explaining away the pains of life
- I quit all of my business aspirations and dedicated my energy and time to my existing job.
- Months later, still having made the mistake of blaming my career for my unhappiness, I nearly quit my job to work at a meditation center.
- I came back to Boston with a renewed energy to live a good life.
- I finally adopted the one habit/month technique that I always thought I was too good for
- I began meditating on a daily basis.
- I figured out my instincts are often right and trust them more. Those human truths, fears, and aspirations I always thought I was alone in feeling, I see are universal now, but most people don’t feel safe enough to express them.
- Today, I am physically, mentally, and spiritually the fittest I’ve ever been. My job is at its best point largely because I almost left.
For the most part, I’m content. Often, I’ve thought about my old Daoist studies. Laozi writes, ““Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”.
Of course, I still get angry, afraid, and nervous. That never goes away despite our spiritual longing and fantasies of perfect saints. Nor am I some pushover that doesn’t recognize my own shortcomings and where I still have much room to learn and grow. But I can accept that I am where I am and that nothing can change reality overnight. Whereas in the past, I would be overcome with shame, guilt, anger, or sadness when confronted with my weaknesses and wishing I could somehow skip the intermediate endless path of learning via trial and error.
I spent years seeking the Truth in college and graduate school. Only to realize that knowing the truth and being able to live the truth are two very different things. Then I spent years trying to become successful, to reinvent myself to live like a superhuman role model. In running away from myself to this impossible project, I failed numerous times and finally was ready to accept living as an awake human being. Awake to who I am right here, right now rather than past or future stories.
As the Dao De Jing 16 says:
I do my utmost to attain emptiness;
I hold firmly to stillness.
The myriad creatures all rise together
And I watch their return.
The teaming creatures
All return to their separate roots.
Returning to one’s roots is known as stillness.
This is what is meant by returning to one’s destiny.
Returning to one’s destiny is known as the constant.
Knowledge of the constant is known as discernment.
Woe to him who wilfully innovates
While ignorant of the constant,
But should one act from knowledge of the constant
One’s action will lead to impartiality,
Impartiality to kingliness,
Kingliness to heaven,
Heaven to the way,
The way to perpetuity,
And to the end of one’s days one will meet with no danger.
I’ve returned to my roots and found a constant stillness once again. There’s still much left to do. And my next greatest challenge will be relationships, in accepting myself and others when in relation to others. And maybe, afterwards, learning how to benefit others on a larger scale beyond one on one.