Tag Archives: Buddhism

It’s Not the End of the World

Along with the inevitable “Top 10” lists that come out this time of year, we’re also being inundated with talk of the Mayans and the end of the world.

“What would you do if it were your last day? How would you spend your time and what would you say/eat/wear/post to your soon-to-be-doomed Facebook page? For the love of broccoli, live each day as if it were your last!”

I don’t live each day as if it were my last simply because it’s impractical. If everyone subscribed to that suggestion we would have no custodians, waitresses or accountants and only millions of actors and musicians traveling the world or co-writing a column with Tina Fey from their couch (okay, that last one is me.)

But that’s the practical, concrete “big picture,” and that’s not the point of this post. The point is that watching the news or reading online makes it painfully clear that everyone—young and old—is mortal. Regardless of our differences, this is something we all have in common. It’s a challenge we all face together.

Another challenge is admitting that fact, or more accurately, any weakness to those that we know.

I’m convinced that most people think “the other person” has figured out the world before they have. That person won life, so that means we’ve lost. We don’t have it all figured out yet and good lord! We’re at an age when we SHOULD have it all figured out, we SHOULD know what makes us happy and exactly how to get to—and more importantly—stay in that place.

I call bullshit.

I call bullshit on the whole thing, as the world is too freaking confusing for anyone to have it all figured out, whatever that even means. We live in an age when people hide behind computer screens or emotional barriers and carefully plan their communication with other people, something that makes truly honest moments few and far between.

And for some reason there’s a societal stigma attached to feeling lost or confused, to letting yourself be seen as vulnerable or admitting that no, you actually don’t know what the hell you’re doing — even though most people likely feel the same way.

Well, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing other than living life day to day.

I’m technically a mess.

I’m open, I’m raw, I say how I feel and often feel stupid about a lot of the things that I do or don’t do. I question myself and my decisions a lot of the time. And those questions I have yet to find answers to? I obsess over that all too often. I’m human and I’m flawed, but long ago I made the decision to not feel ashamed of that fact.

And when I see people who have sort of an effortless peace to their lives, who are comfortable with wherever they’re at even if they don’t have it “all figured out,” I know that that’s something I want—not to “figure it all out,” but to be okay with wherever I am.

So to do that, I ask myself this—not just before the planned end of the world, but on days when I’m feeling like crap:

  • Who and what do I want to surround myself with? Is it healthy or simply a habit?
  • If something is ticking me off, do I want to make a change or make a point, be right or be content?
  • Why do I feel insecure? What’s really important to me?
  • How will obsessing on things in the past help me feel more at peace with things now?

I try every day to find peace and accept there are bumps—sometimes massive, frustrating speed bumps—in the road, in everyone’s road, truth be told.

But you know what? That’s just life.

And it’s not the end of the world.

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An Ego Trip

A lot of what I’ve been reading deals with letting go—letting go of attachment to results, to routine, to the ego.

At first I kind of rolled my eyes at the ego thing, as I never really figured myself to have much of a stereotypical ego. I don’t spend a lot of time or money on my looks, I can admit when I’m wrong and I’m pretty much self-deprecating to a fault.

But then I realized that was bullshit. Of course I have an ego. It might not be the, “Hey, look at me! I’ve been meditating for a month and suddenly all of the answers are clear! Praise avocados! Namaste!” type of ego, but I still find myself attached to my story.


You know what I’m talking about.

We all have a story, and at times I still let past chapters of mine continue to define me today. There are labels I had never removed because it seemed impossible to let those things go. After all, it’s easy to define yourself by the past—the things you’ve had to deal with that were out of your control, the way someone treated you—or by your struggles—OCD, weight, depression, etc.

But I’m learning that there can and will always be another story as long as I permit myself to “be” without worrying about figuring it out.

In other words, dropping the ego—or at least peeking around its rough edges—and letting go of control.

So I’ve been reading—slowly, not rushing through—and taking more time with more things. By deliberately slowing down a mind that has a tendency to run ahead without me, I’m much more aware of my space and of the fact that I don’t need to fill that space up with things and noise all the time.

That can be hard, as in this self-branding/social media world we live in we’re offered platforms to try and present flattering one-dimensional versions of ourselves and told to do, do, do and share it all the time. And then—because everyone else is doing it too—we’re given tools to calculate our popularity.

No wonder we’re a mess half the time.

And truth be told, I’m still a mess in a whole lot of ways and have no clue what I’m doing with things. It has nothing to do with anyone else, but simply with my own frustration. (If I hear “find your passion” one more time I’ll flip my shit out, but that’s for another day.)

Anyway, the best way to fight unhealthy habits is to cultivate a personal mindset that simply doesn’t promote their presence in the first place.

There’s a difference between content and complacent, confident and cocky, reaching out and clinging on, stuck and simply stumbling. Sometimes I’m all of these things all at once, but I’m finding is if you’re content with yourself and need nothing else, it helps solve a lot of problems.

But of course there still are problems.

So if there’s anyone out there hiring a mostly content slightly neurotic writer to move to a remote island to practice yoga and meditation while editing vegan cookbooks and selling sea shells by the sea shore, shoot me an email there buddy.

Hey, I said “peek around the edge” of the ego, not completely squash that crap down. Snark will always be a part of my story—and my next post—so praise avocados! Namaste!”

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Just Keep Nodding

I use humor as an escape 90 percent of the time, so I promise to keep up with the snark when I can. However, I was overwhelmed by the response/support from this post and and want to keep myself accountable.

But truth be told—as it should be, unless I ask you to pretend I don’t look like a homeless person, in which case I need you to lie—I hesitate to publish these serious things. Does  anyone care other than me?

I have no idea. However, I need to get past worrying about that, so you’ll be getting more of these posts once in awhile. I’ll need you to pretend that’s okay.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.

I’ve made it my mission to read out of my meditation book for a minimum of 15 minutes each day and write at least one or two lines—sometimes quite a bit more—about the things that I’ve read and how I can apply them to now.

Well, life keeps throwing shit snowballs—things I never discuss on this blog—and this “mindful” mission feels more like a mindfu#* at times. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to truly be balanced and live my authentic life, I have two choices:

  1. Move to a remote island (with Internet access and a full vegan chef) to practice yoga and meditation with Buddhist monks and hot retired Canadian hockey players or
  2. Become a hermit and tell the universe to go screw itself.

Okay. Maybe there’s a third option.

I can’t afford the airfare to the island or live off the few green beans left in my garden, so I’m left trying to deal with real life in a way that isn’t quite so self-destructive — something that has been my default for the past decade in some way, shape or form.

I’m still struggling with the fact that even though I can let go of what doesn’t serve me, accept what’s out of my control and try to mindfully move through the occasional muck, that doesn’t change the fact that these things still go on.

Being “mindful” simply means I’m paying attention, and sometimes that feels worse than ignoring said frustrations and/or literally running myself into the ground.

So, second conclusion: it’s more than just “paying attention.”

We’re not meant to be so reactive, always anxiously on the edge of our seats waiting to see how we can control the outcome of whatever it is we feel is out of control. We’re meant to trust that some how, some way the universe will provide what we need.

Yes, that sounds like a load of shit. I’m fully aware of that. I’m also fully aware that I’m no longer comfortable with the rationalizations and compromises I’ve been making with things. “This” happened, so I feel like I deserve to do “this” or complain about “that.” We all have our own examples.

How has that been working out? Exactly.

So I have to believe that one right action—even if uncomfortable—can have a positive reaction and that a series of interconnected “right” actions can cause things to change. Eventually doing the work and getting through that discomfort will feel better than always avoiding the pain that inevitably returns at some point.

And that’s really the point, isn’t it? Life isn’t about dancing with the unicorns and frolicking with the butterflies, but rather opening your umbrella for shit storms with awareness and a sense of inner peace (why is that never printed on a motivational poster?)

I suppose it’s because good ol’ Buddha makes more sense with, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” He was a bit more eloquent with his words, but tomato to-mah-to.

The point is that each day we try.

Keep nodding your heads. Let’s move on.

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