No matter how grown up we become, it’s still tempting to cling like children hanging onto Mama’s leg to things we fear losing. We cling to our kids because we can’t bear the idea of losing them. We cling to the stability of a job- even a job we don’t like- because we fear change or financial instability. We cling to lovers and friends and material possessions because we’re afraid of losing what we value.
And yet, as the Buddhists teach, our greatest suffering arises from that to which we attach. The relief from life’s inevitable suffering lies in surrendering to what is, rather than clinging to what was.
A Brian Andreas cartoon that I love depicts a woman riding the wind in an upside down umbrella with her feet kicked up in the air. The caption reads, “”If you hold on to the handle, she said, it’s easier to maintain the illusion of control. But it’s more fun if you just let the wind carry you.”
I try to live this way, but I'm SO far from actually achieving this utopian way of "letting go." I still cling like my life depends on it sometimes! I try to set goals and release attachment to outcomes, but I still find myself getting attached. In fact, I attach to attaching sometimes. I look at some of the Buddhist monks at the Green Gulch Zen Center where my family attends dharma talks. And they’re just so…zen.
Part of me is jealous, because it seems such a serene, peaceful existence. If something starts to ruffle them, they just go meditate. But then part of me doesn’t want to be that detached. Part of me actually likes to suffer. It feels real. It feels human. When I love something or someone-and then lose what I love- I feel loss, and that feels sad. And it feels healthy to grieve the loss. I’m an emotional creature- so bite me.
But I am trying to attach less, to trust more, to give myself permission to grieve but also to have faith that I will endure and that the Universe is a friendly place, even when I lose what I love.
I still haven’t completely sorted this out. Have you? Teach me!