Sunday, January 6, 2008 - 02:46 PM
Lisa Simpson- "Oh, we can take anything. We’re the MTV generation. We feel
neither highs nor lows"
Homer-"How does that feel?"
Lisa (with an expression of boredom)- *shrugs* Eh
The joke in that brief aside from the Simpsons is the idea that to be
"even" or balanced is a bad thing. The 'highs and lows' Lisa refers to
seems to be something we all need to strive for. Well, I guess we all really
strive for the 'highs' and then run like hell from the 'lows'. In fact, i think
it would be safe to say that most peoples ideas of heaven are some form of
feeling the highs with absolutely no risk of suffering the lows. We try to make
ourselves feel good almost constantly, and if we cant feel good we at least want
to avoid that most dreaded of states, being bored.
Being bored seems to be the worst thing that could ever happen to most people.
They would much rather do something harmful to themselves (or others) than risk
the dreaded state of boredom for even a moment! Sadly no one thing can ever
fulfill that need constantly. Sure skydiving, getting high, or having crazy sex
alleviates the boredom, but nothing ever seems to work for long. In fact, I
would say that we spend far more time trying to reach that state of being
'entertained' than we do actually feeling it! Why cant we just feel good all the
time!? Why can we just spring out of bed and be thrilled and enthralled by light
on the wall or the sound of water dripping from our faucets? Why, now that were
asking, do we want to be excited at all?
In nature excitement is frightening. An elk spends the vast majority of its time
simply eating and relaxing, the most stressful times in its life are when it is
fighting rivals, having baby elks, wooing mates, or fleeing predators. For those
brief instances the elk (and all wild animals) are pretty much in hell. Their
lives are disrupted, their world unsure and deadly and the longer it lasts the
more distraught they become. Spooked horses have even been observed running
themselves to death. Frankly, in nature, excitement sucks. So imagine how lucky
we are that we can derive the sensations of a wild animal fearing for its life
without even actually being in danger! In fact we spend a huge amount of time
trying to simulate a condition that 99% of the creatures on this planet strive
to avoid at all costs! WHY?
Well, in Buddhism there is a theory about why we seek to constantly ride an
emotional roller-coaster. In very brief terms the idea is this; We all want to
believe that there is a real thing we all call "Me". We want to
believe that "Me" is the same today as it was yesterday and will be
tommorrow. We need to believe in 'Me" so badly that the second we sit still
and feel the world as it really is without all our fears, hopes, wants,
dislikes, and desires we become terribly afraid! We fear that without that
constant stimulus, that without the drama of survival that maybe. . . maybe.
.we wont really exist anymore! Its so common that almost every person who
begins meditation has a moment of fear, what if I stop being 'myself' we all
wonder, what if I become so unattached that i cease to be who I think I really
am!!! I did it, everyone I know who meditates regularly did it, if you begin
meditation chances are you will have that fear at least once.
Our brains are wonderful things, but if there is a downside to being so smart
its that we concieve of dangers that dont (and never will) exist. That fear of
disappearing is one of them and our minds run from it like fearful animals
fleeing a thunderclap.
When the buddha said that "all life is suffering" its important to
note that he never said "life makes you suffer" because suffering isnt
something that happens outside and then smacks you in the head. Suffering is
what happens IN your head when the world isnt the way you want it to be. Being
afraid of being bored is the same thing. No one has ever died of boredom while
countless multitudes have died running from it. The sad thing is that that
middle ground, that area with neither high nor low is actually the real world.
Its the part that you wake up in, eat your cornflakes in, take a shit in, walk
outside in, go to work in, and 99% of your life in! Whats pathetic is that THATS
what were running from! The vast majority of our lives, our miraculous, unique,
fleeting lives is that even keel and we WASTE so much of it running away!
Wishing for it to be other than what it clearly, really, truly IS! How wonderful
would it be if we could appreciate all those moments?
I dont mean wake up and brush your teeth with tears of joy running down your
face, but why not appreciate that moment that allows you to brush your teeth? to
appreciate the teeth, the brush, the hand holding it, the water you rinse with
and the smoothness of your teeth when your done? Why not take a second to look
at the neat way a tree is silhouetted against the sky or the interesting way
that cat is chilling on a windowstill? Do you think those moments will ever
occur again the same way? ever? Every second you live is the one second you have
TO live. If you really really want to spend it watching TV or being drunk or
wallowing in the drama of your lovelife then by all means enjoy, but I hate to
burst your bubble, none of that stuff is going to keep you happy, content, or
Reality is all around you always. Its wonderful and amazing but to see it you
need to turn off the false front we all throw up in front of it. I promise that
your brain and personality wont go away at all, in fact you might just find that
your real, true, original face is a damn sight more appealing than the one we
put on all day trying to stave off *gasp* boredom!