"Being so afraid of being impermanent, and then letting go of all that fear and embracing impermanence."
How I did it:
I remember that when I added this goal, I added it because I thought that it sounded beautiful. I suppose that I wanted to remind myself to really live and experience each moment. I think that I was in a bit of a funk, and I wanted desperately to be out of this funk. I did not know how to go about achieving this goal, mostly because I did not know what achieving this goal would touch/taste/smell/sound/feel like. I was looking for something, but I wasn't sure exactly what living instead of existing would be like.
Intellectually I understood. I would seize the day, carpe diem, make every moment an adventure... but there were still moments and days and weeks when I was stuck in the mud... My intellectual self just couldn't convince the rest of me to live... and even when I was taking on the affectations of living, I just didn't feel truly alive... Or if I did, it was only temporary. I wanted for it, so desperately, to last forever.
Ever since I was little, I always wanted things to last as long as possible. Temporary things really frustrated me, because sure, they were fun for a moment, but they always ended. I wanted long-lasting happiness. I wanted a perfect day that would never end. And so, I always tried to replicate perfect moments in my life, and I always was disappointed when those perfect moments could not be replicated.
When I got into middle-school, I was in a state of despair, because I realized how horrible the world is. I then decided in high school that I could either love everything or hate everything. That I could care about everything or care about nothing. I decided to love and care about everything. But there were times when I was just so terribly depressed that I could not change the world. It ate me up inside. I felt so incompetent. But I was a little bit freer. I at least tried to stop caring what people thought. I let go and lived a lot. I danced in the rain and wore wings to school. I left chocolates for my teachers. I was still always looking for something else though... Somehow I felt unfulfilled. Unsure.
As an exchange student I grasped every moment, but when I got back home, I could only think- Now What? I was afraid that I could only live when there was a novelty... and most of life is waiting, waiting for novelties. I did not want to spend my life waiting for something else to come.
I started studying philosophy, but the truth is that I have always been a philosopher. I had wanted to be a philosopher for a long time, and I've always been curious. I took a class with a professor who asked difficult questions, some that I had asked myself before, and some that I had not. I came to love philosophy. But even so, sometimes I felt so alone and as though all my actions were futile and insignificant. Recently, I was feeling really stressed as well. The whole world was on my shoulders- or at least it felt that way.
Since January I'd been reading this Manga series called "Fruits Basket." At first I thought that it would be a silly romantic series with little depth. A friend of mine had loved it in high school, and when I went to the library and saw it, I decided to pick it up. I soon found out that while it appeared to be merely a romance series, it had many deep themes. Around March or April, I finished the series. Without giving too much away about the series, it made me realize how fragile life is. Intellectually, this is something that I've understood for a long time, but this series actually made me feel and experience the fragility of it all... I realized that it is because we are not permanent that life is so precious... it is life's inevitable end that makes each moment beautiful. We are all dying creatures, so now is all we have. It is our fear that makes us cling to forever, it is what us hate. It is the fear of our inevitable end, our want to hold onto life at all costs, that makes us forget to live. In these moments of dying, these moments of impermanence, there is eternity, there is infinity... because these moments are everything to us... These moments that we are experiencing now are life... They are all we will ever know as far as we know... They are our eternity, and they will be forever etched in the fabric of space-time... and these moments of eternity will die. But while these moments are alive, ever so briefly, we get to experience them. I felt so lucky to be able to see this dying moment, to be a dying moment.
As I sat in my bed in the dark, I realized that it meant that I did not have to fear anything or hate anything, because we're all precious dying people, all trying to cling to this little planet, trying to live... How could I hate something so beautiful? Even the hate-filled people are hate-filled because they are afraid. I realized that I had nothing to fear... even not living. I thought "Wow, I could die right now, and be SO happy that I had finally really, truly understood what it means to be alive... that I had touched infinity and let it go." When I was little I did not understand the difference between dying and dead. My mother tried to explain that the film Philadelphia (and the song by Bruce Springstein) were about a dying man. I thought they were about a dead man. A dying man. That's what we are all. And as I sat in my room sobbing with such anguish and such utter happiness and joy, I thought about how as one thing ends, another thing begins. I forgave my future and past selves for forgetting to this lesson. I knew that sometimes I would be fearful and hateful, because we cannot control that, even if we see the wilting flower of eternity, of endless beginnings and endings, we fall back into the everyday. But for that moment I felt like I was pure love... I know that it sounds silly to say, but in that moment I only knew love: love and care for all the dying beings of the world, including myself. An Awe.
And sometimes I am fearful and I do hate, but I think back to that feeling... that complete escape from fear and an awe at the knowledge that YES IT WILL END, THIS IS ALL THERE IS, BUT I AM HERE NOW, AND IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL. I remember seeing a film called American Beauty, in it, one of the characters talks about being filled up like a balloon with so much beauty that he cannot take it, that he feels like he is going to burst. That is what I felt like. I had felt this before, but this time I saw how fear of losing, our attempts to make ourselves permanent, make us forget how beautiful everything is.
Yes, there is terror in the world. We have to see that. We can do something about it. We probably cannot stop all of it, but we can stop a little bit of it. We can stop being afraid. We can live our short lives to the fullest. We will forget, and must forgive ourselves for this. Maybe I was always truly living and I was just waiting for my real life to start. My better life. But this is it, and like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, I am going to make the best of it. I am going to love as much as I can, knowing that I will lose those who I love someday. I am going to create, knowing that it will never be perfect. I am going to live, knowing that I will mess up sometimes. When travel or something that I love to do comes along, I will embrace that, but I will embrace the moments of waiting too.
I will walk the fragile tightrope of infinity, and in this tension between forever and never, between being here now and not existing, I will make sure to marvel at the great beauty of it all.
It's not something that I can accurately explain, but I think in searching for meaning, in searching to live, people can find those moments of pure love, those moments of touching the infinity within the never. I try to find that feeling again, but I know that if I never feel it again, it's okay because there are so many other things to feel. And I remember the lessons of that wiser version of my self. I remember to love and I let go of fear... which is quite scary and exhilarating. I remember that when I realize that I am eventually going to die, that I have nothing to fear. I can just live.
I was devastated that Fruits Basket ended... but then again, if I stay sad about it ending, then I am missing the point of the series. It ended, but it was beautiful while I read it. I was so lucky that it touched me.
Lessons & tips: Love and do what you love. Do not be afraid. It will all end eventually, now is all there is. Embrace it! It's all okay. Everything is okay.
Maybe my stroy wasn't very helpful, and it was certainly quite long and rambled, wasn't it? But just keep on looking to live and you will understand. Just keep on living, and do not be afraid. It's all okay. Change what you can. Help people. And love yourself too. Remember to love yourself, even the self that does horrible things, love that part of yourself.
Talk to others and experience as many wonderful things as you can. Do not do things that make you unhappy, but if you are stuck doing things that make you unhappy, then ask yourself why you are doing them. If you believe that you have to, then find pockets of happiness to get your through the day. Live for those pockets... Ask yourself how you can make the whole day more like those pockets.
Do not despair. Find something that you love. Keep looking. Be curious.
Talk to people. Try to understand them and help them when you can. Talk to strangers and feel so much less alone. Talk to me. :)
Books (Fruits Basket, The Elegance of the Hedgehog)
Deep thinking in the middle of the night in the dark
Letting go of Fear
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