Barnhart Media
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carpe bucko

getting caught up

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Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

– Nadine Stair, 85 years old, Louisville, KY

Over and over again, I allow myself to get caught up in other people’s … I don’t know what to call it. Messes? Shit? Demands on the universe? Insistences on truth? Whatever; labels only give a false solidity to the emptiness that is the reality of human thought and belief. Getting caught up in that stuff is like trying to walk on air.

From the top of a cliff. It never ends well.

My biggest problem in this regard: I not only want to be right about everything on which I have an opinion – and boy howdy, do I have me some opinions – someone else expressing an opinion is a temptation I can resist about as well as a four-year-old resisting a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store when told “No I’m not getting that”.

Even when the opinion expressed is the same as mine: I have to state my own damn opinion as if it matters!

I’m not on the Supreme Court; no one needs my concurring opinion. No one needs my dissent, either. No one needs a damn thing from me.

Other than respect, decency, and a willingness to listen, understand, and learn. These are things I consistently fail to do in my eagerness to claim the Victory Flag of Absolute Truth.

At the age of 62-plus, after a lifetime of bad religion and faltering mental health, I am finally on a path that will, if I continue to follow it, lead to healing, health, and, as the guided meditation puts it, “ease of being”. The need to be right and to force the issue of my rightness is anything but “ease of being”. It’s a form of unwellness, of the ultimate unwellness diagnosed clearly by the Buddha so long ago: clinging to desire.

Learning to let go isn’t easy, especially since, at least for me, the clinging to my desire to be right is hard-wired deep in my neural networks. Happily, the meditation practice is having its effect: bit by bit, I am able to release my desire to be right (and to have everyone bow down to my rightness). In practice, this means letting go comments on Facebook that, to put it in neutral terms, I do not agree with.

Although sometimes this means spouting off, getting into a back-and-forth, and then deleting the entire thread so as to erase my initial effort to control the argument.

Mostly it means: read, reflect – and move on. How much does the world lose when I do not post a reply to a post or comment? I think it gains more from my silence.

When I do respond, I try to be positive. I try to offer something of use to others. If I feel that a dissent can be useful, I try to stick to facts (almost everyone I contact in Facebook is a liberal, and we libs love us some facts). I try to incorporate humor, or at least an illustrative emoji. 😑 I state my opinions as my opinions; feel free to disagree, but neither of us is right or wrong on our opinions.

Getting into these stupid battles is the exact opposite of resting in the dharma. The purpose of meditation and the dharma is to be present, right here and right now, and arguments detach the mind from the present. The world is moving forward, and I am stuck in a place of nothingness – the wrong kind of nothing – completely out-of-touch with the reality in which I should be living.

That’s not much better than being dead.

It is going to take some time to rewire my synapses. I will continue my daily meditation practice, and I will continue to reflect on the dharma as I am coming to know it. I will put in the effort to be aware of my life in the present moment. I will do my best to show respect, to listen rather than speak, to learn rather than pontificate.

My moments are slipping away. Each is precious. I cannot afford to waste a single one.

T.A. Barnhart