Resolutions for 2011
For many people, with every new year comes "New Year's Resolutions", and while I avoided this pastime for many years, I have been giving it a try these last few years. While there's still time a little time left in 2010 to think about it, right now my resolutions for 2011 are pretty simple:
- Pay attention.
- Let go.
"Pay attention" is the simpler of these resolutions. It means just what it says, pay attention to the present moment, don't get lost dreaming about the future, or reliving the past. As I was reminded very recently, all we really have is this present moment. Shoot, I'm told my great-grandfather was beheaded by a Turk when they killed 1M+ people in what is now becoming known as the Turkish genocide of Greeks and Armenians. Imagine that, one moment you're taking a breath, healthy and alive, and in the very next moment you're dead. No slow, painful death to ponder there, just "breath in", followed by death.
Resolving to "Let go" is a bit different. For me it has several different meanings.
1) One thing it means is to let go of my Little Ego. That's the ego that's always fighting back, with desires, cravings, and opinions. Whenever I refer to World War III, I'm referring to the ongoing battle between the Big Ego (my true self, or true nature) and my Little Ego. That may not sound like much, but just try to kill your own Little Ego, and let me know how that treats you. "Does she like me?", "Do these pants make my butt look big?", "I wish ...", "I want ...", all sorts of phrases like this are the Little Ego at work. Buddhist Monks even shave their hair off so they don't have to think about how it looks: "Does my hair look okay? Whack! What hair? Um, never mind."
2) Letting go also means letting go of my past. I find that several times during a day, or during a week, I wonder about things that have happened in the past, or people I knew in the past. Getting quickly to my point, I find that tools like Facebook are a constant reminder of this past, so one of my resolutions is to pull the plug on it again on New Year's Day. I was recently reminded that I got back on Facebook to keep up with my nieces, but since they don't use it much any more, there isn't anything to keep up with that way. So on January 1, 2011, it will be 'Hasta la vista, Facebook'.
Whenever I find myself thinking about the past, the thing I keep telling myself lately is that I made this choice, I live where I live as a choice, and unless I move somewhere else, being here is both my present and my future. Time spent thinking about the past is time I should be spending in the present moment, right here, right now. The time I spend thinking about people, places, and things in the past is ... well, it's basically my "hair", and I need to chop it off.
3) "Let go" also means to let go of the last checks in my brain that are more or less trying to keep me sane. Really, I think this is a part of the Little Ego, but it seems like every time I truly try to let go, there's a part of my brain that screams out "No, don't do it! You can't survive that way, don't you see, I'm keeping you sane!"
Two things come to mind as I write this. First, I suspect a lot of people I know, or used to know, probably think I've already lost my sanity. That's fine, I'm perfectly okay with that, because without writing a whole bunch more, I believe I know some things that they may never know. I don't think that's my Little Ego talking exactly, but it is me saying "I think I'm right", and I also think I'm more open-minded. People make cracks about things that scare them, so if I scare you, I suggest asking yourself what it is you're afraid of.
The second thing that comes to mind is that I always thought I might really have a problem with my sanity if my wife and I ever broke up, because she more or less kept me grounded. But since we've been apart things have worked out differently than I expected, and while there are times in the hallucinogenic state that I can't tell what's "real" and what isn't, the rest of the day goes by just fine.
4) Related to some of these points, letting go also means letting go during meditation. Many times when I meditate I can start to just hear and feel sound waves without my brain interpreting them, which is a very cool sensation, what I assume it's like to be a baby hearing sounds for the first time, with no idea what those sounds mean. But then my brain always has to kick in and start interpreting those sounds, and that's another part I'd like to let go of, as in, "Hey, brain, it's okay, you don't have to interpret these sounds waves for me all the time."
So those are two resolutions to get my list started. I'm sure I'll have others, but these are the ones most on my mind at the moment.