Sunday, November 24, 2013

Contentment

For most of this past year I have been learning, re-learning, practicing and yes, struggling with, the process of Letting Go.  As stated in the linked blogpost, I've been letting go in smaller ways for years. This year was time to tackle letting go in big ways, because my current life path simply requires doing so. I don't think it's possible to effect a major change in one's life without letting go of the outcome, the fears, worries and doubts. At least it isn't for me, although that may merely be a factor of age and meager finances since it wasn't an issue in my younger years, when I'd up and move or change careers at the drop of a hat.

That's not to say I haven't found success, because I have let go of countless attachments and fears and such. But, I'm finding that the process of letting go is very much akin to (even related to) the process of of finding and eliminating Greed. Both are insidious -- as that linked blogpost points out, I have clearly and fully let go of lots of greed, both of the major and minor type. The same can be said of letting go of attachments and emotions. And yet, every time I feel I've made wonderful progress with either, I'll discover new and different ways that greed is manifesting itself, or that I'm holding on to an attachment or outcome in perhaps a different way. Thankfully, for the most part these are minor, particularly with greed. Letting go is still harder and in more major ways, and keeps surfacing again and again. Clearly, I'm not there yet.

While fear is part of what I'm letting go, it's interesting to me in that fear has never been a real part of my life. I've never hesitated to make major changes and live with the consequences. Mostly, the consequences were of a pleasant nature. Often, they effected major life changes of a kind that needed to be made. For example, it's amazing what one can learn about oneself during a two-month solo bicycle trip in the Colorado Rockies. Camping out every night, often in severe thunderstorms, preparing meals over a tiny camp stove, flat tires, exhaustion, struggling up steep Continental Divide passes or up a trail to the top of a fourteener can really tell you what you're made of -- and what you want to be made of.

The absence of physical fear did not, however, alleviate the deep inner fears that created a painfully shy child, teenager and adult. Much of the shyness eased, at least on the surface, but many of those deep fears remain and that's what I'm struggling with as much as I'm struggling with letting go of attachment to outcome. With letting go of control, if you will.

A few weeks ago, after writing the previous post here, I began a 28-day experiment with the idea of simply trusting that the perfect place/situation for me is out there and that it will be revealed in the proper time. Doing this gradually took the pressure -- internal pressure -- off the whole process of figuring out what to do, where to go. The result? Contentment.

That's a big deal. Many times I've found myself sitting on my sofa reading, for example, and realized that I was totally and completely content with that perfect moment and life in general. It continues, and expands daily -- and certainly not because life is what we'd think of as particularly perfect. I'm living in a house with no hot water, so how perfect could it be? But it feels perfect because I've accepted the reality of the moment -- from the lack of hot water to letting go of fretting about 'where to go and what to do'.  This is what's happening and since I can't change it, let it go.  Like everything else, this reality will change, for better or worse, so why grasp at it? Why get stuck on it? Why let it bother you? That's what I'm told enlightenment -- full enlightenment -- is all about. Arahants (fully enlightened ones) have aches and pains and frustrations and everything the rest of us have -- the difference is that it doesn't bother them. That's the goal.

No decisions about my future, but then, none are required yet. I'm here until spring and have confidence that the answer will be revealed by then. I'm certainly seeing things more clearly about all of the previous options, and have sent a letter of inquiry into yet another possibility. In the meantime, I continue to watch thoughts and insights arise and become clear, and letting this contentment soak as fully and deeply into the heart/mind as possible.

 On the other hand, I'm finding a bit of greed around baked goodies -- something I fight every winter because baking simply seems like the thing to do in cold weather, so while life is good I am far from perfect.