When I commented to my husband recently that both my mother and sister were crazy, he said “You’re from the same stock, you know.” So after I reminded him that he married me so he must be completely insane, I got to thinking. What exactly are Mom’s personality traits that I want to let go?
For starters, Mom is a worrier. Of course she has her own reasons for this and I will only briefly mention what they are here: her childhood was spent with a violent drunk. That would have an effect on anyone and I’m not criticising her for her nature. However, I want something different for my life. Why? Not because there aren’t scary things out there that might happen but because I know that worry is a waste of precious personal energy – and a tool for my own suffering. The Buddhist in me says that my time would be better spent attempting to alleviate suffering – which includes my own.
But if I’m looking more closely at the worrying point, andwith my Buddhist hat on, I believe that worry is a result/associate of fear and anxiety. If I’m hoping to achieve equanimity, I have to let go the fear of something bad happening because it only darkens today.
The Buddhist in me also notes how I cling to – not just fear and anxiety, but also more positive emotions such as love. If I let go my emotions, I will achieve a peace that I’ve not yet found. I fully believe that I cling to emotional attachments – particularly the hurricane-force emotions that occasionally leave me bobbing for air. I used to think that my Herculean emotions were a virtue but, looking logically and as a Buddhist, I can see that my strong emotions are a distraction to the peace I’m seeking. If I’m being totally honest, I’m using my emotions as an excuse to avoid the peace I am seeking. It is as if I am a turtle on my back and my emotions are buffeting me this way and that, but never quite turning me upright.
In addition, my strong memories enable me cling to the past – where I re-enact conversations that never took place; I relive emotions that have no meaning in the present; and I wallow in dreams that might have been… I have to try to remember that in letting go the attachments that have created my suffering, I’m only losing the bit of the emotions that I cling to most. I can still achieve close friendships and ties but with the knowledge that myself and my friends are living now – not in the past with my intense memories and not in the future whereI’m longing for something more exciting – rueing lost potential and time.