“Your Life Is Not A Self Improvement Project, Mother Fucker!”
Are the words I’ll never forget. Are the words tattooed in my skull. “My life is not a self improvement project…My life is not a self improvement project… My life is not a self improvement project.” Are the words that don’t silence the noise, but they help.
Constantly striving for more. I’m always hungry. I always need to feed. Always striving. Striving is an experience that breaks and torments me. I will take whatever will bring me close to the part of myself that is never anxious, never afraid. I’ll take it by any means necessary.
So would you. That’s why there are 84 million pieces of scripture dedicated to happiness. This is why we congregate and chant and fuck and sleep and pray and hope. We all want to be happy. I want to be at ease in the world, I wanna be comfortable in my own skin knowing at any moment it can all crumble. If I were in control of my body, I wouldn’t choose death and weakness. If I were in control of my brain, I wouldn’t t choose worry and fear. With a finger in my wound, I can run from the pain or I can heal it.
In reality, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, I have no control, and I keep wanting to both know and have control. I can feel my mind wanting to release a kind of wanting, it wants to ease up on the subtle wanting, the wanting of more, the wanting of better concentration, the wanting of even wanting the calm, the wanting of an easier breath. I want that I don’t want.
When I look deeply, it’s not hard to see that so much of the suffering in the world comes from greed and fear and hatred. Just ask any lover, holding and gripping are different. Gripping is tense and forceful. Holding is flexible, fluid, adaptable.
They say that when a tiger approaches, everything far off becomes completely still. There’s a sense of presence, eminence. And you may never see the tiger. I never see the tiger and the next thing you know I’m gone.
Is this peace even available? This peace, which lies beyond conception, beyond my truth? I want to reach into your heart and take out a share of the pain, so as to lessen it, but I can’t.
I’m pretty convinced that if the Buddha hadn’t existed, if Jesus or Muhammed weren’t real, aren’t real, who cares, they would have been made up anyway, at some point in time, somewhere, by someone who just wanted to find a way to be happy and to take people with him.
I like to think I’m just working my shit out. I like to think it’s healthy. Everybody should be aloud to reach their potential so long as it doesn’t harm other people, right? Right?
Things look stable, but lord knows they are not. Nothing is. It’s all a heart growing weaker, a body crumbling and dying. We aren’t living, we are dying. A daily process of dying. I don’t want to think of my constant search for happiness as a kind of addiction, a form of suffering. I don’t want to think about how my sense of control may ultimately be an illusion, how any identification whatsoever with the elements of myself in the world, which include everything under the heading personality, entails suffering. I don’t want to seriously contemplate the possibility that underneath all of my pleasure is a dark current of suffering flowing like a subterranean river, polluting everything with the stench of an insatiable hunger and fear I cannot afford to acknowledge, because it would make my present life intolerable.
Trust is key. I will not wait until I am better to show up fully for my life. I will not wait until I know, until I understand. Here I am. Help.
The sin wasn’t in eating the apple, the sin was in running. Eat the apple, but stay, stay and face what is, in all your flawed glory.
Allow me to stay put instead of running. I will take even this pain since I no longer know whats good for me.
“Love yourself and you will stop trying so hard”, she said. Maybe that’s true. Love is not about getting what we want, love is about how we love with what we are given. One way or another, the world will take me from myself and I will suffer.
If I sacrifice, as in the original meaning of the Latin word to “make sacred”, if I sacrifice of the trying to make sense of all that is, I can begin loving.
“There is a way to stop trying so hard, because self improvement is never ending.” If you are living, you are improving. The results will take care of themselves. They know exactly when it’s time.
– Christopher Rivas