July 29

Powerlessness:  Part II

       There is within everyone an insatiable desire that can never be filled with things.  Trying to fill that need with cars and houses and lovers will only leave you craving more.  I have a room full of books and binders on self-improvement that I have never read nor will I ever read.  (I’m a bit of a hoarder that way.)  I keep thinking the next book will save me, and my quest for the answers to all my limitations will come to an end.  But it just leaves me feeling more insanely frustrated each time.

       What’s the definition of insanity?  Repeating the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.  There’s something insane about our attachments and addictions.  We repeat them over and over hoping that the next one will save us; instead, we are losing our lives.  The things to which we become attached are counterfeit, fake, phony-baloney and, at best, a very poor substitute for what we really want.          

      But because someone – somewhere along the line – showed us how to obsess, (and what to obsess about), we bought into this way of thinking.  And so this insanity is passed on from one person to the next; we keep it alive by repeating it over and over.

       But feeling ‘in control’ doesn’t make it so.  It’s an emotion we’ve manufactured by using things, people and places to create the illusion that we are in control.  Just like a junkie that uses mood-altering chemicals to create a euphoria for a while, we do the same thing with our fantasies.  And we keep the illusion alive that we are actually in control of our lives, something we must believe if we are to feel secure.

       Of course, there’s something fundamentally wrong with our reasoning:  We can’t seem to make the pain go away.  It’s always there, trying take over our lives, and threatening to upset the apple cart. 

       When I was a child, I knew how to live in the moment (much better than I do now). But even then I knew that you can’t have your cake and eat it too.  As kids, we were sometimes allotted spending money for treats.  I was typically the last one to spend my fifty cents; I knew that, once it was spent, it was gone.  The pleasant moment was fleeting, and I tried to make it last.  But the pain of it ending was always there.  The candy bar was wonderful while it lasted, but the pleasure would soon end.

       And this pain is always there; it’s a natural part of life.  But you can’t wish pain away without trying to resist it somehow.  And that’s where attachment and addiction play a significant role in your resistance.

       This illusion of control can only lead to suffering because it involves resistance:  Attempting to avoid reality.  It’s not the circumstance that causes the suffering; it’s the resisting.  Resistance can come in many forms.  We resist by raging, resenting, blaming; or we shut down and use depression as our defense.  These are things we do in order to avoid taking responsibility for our lives.  Somewhere along the line of our life’s continuum, we decided that pain was unacceptable and unmanageable.  Something about life left us in a state of overwhelm, so we found a way to manage our pain.  Sound familiar?

 Tomorrow’s topic (August 1) – Powerlessness: Part III