Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mind the Gap, Please

Watch out, you guys, cause I'm going philosophical on you today. I'm supposed to be working on my fiction writing this morning, but instead I've gotten caught up in online teachings on Buddhism. So today you're getting my (undoubtedly fascinating and illuminating) thoughts on these teachings. Think of it as a little sermon given by a totally unqualified individual.

You're welcome.

I've been feeling kind of icky lately. After my abbey experience I was so centered and peaceful. Then I got bombarded by TV and radio and computer games (so wrong and yet so right) and, well, humanity as it exists today. And I can feel my anxiety rising and my peace fading. I can feel my demons slithering and clawing and crawling their way back through my innards. I was feeling so blissfully unconcerned with my body, like someone threw water on a fire that's been burning and suddenly there's relief from the pain. But with an impending trip to New York to see my friends from the casino the demon voices have started hissing in my ear again. They tell me that I'm so fat, that people will think I'm ugly, that I'm not sophisticated enough (for what, I don't know). I've tried to start singing again, and the demons hiss their old and familiar tune, that I'm not good enough, that I'm a failure, that I've racked up this debt for nothing.

In an attempt to take financial control of my life, I've been spending the week coming up with different "profit centers" that I can utilize to actualize my talents and make money with them. I've been working on business plans galore; one for singing and acting, one for writing, and one for a sort of "creativity store" that I mentioned in an earlier blog. And it's helped, a little bit. But then I listen to a dharma teaching, and I can feel how far from my own peace I've strayed and how anxious I've gotten.

I wanted to share a particular statement that struck me this morning. The teaching I listened to (twice!) is about suffering, and the nun who was teaching on it said this:

"Wanting to be happy, wanting perfection to happen [or] occur in our existence, that means there's always this gap that occurs, [there's] always this imbalance...and so there's always this ideal state that we desire for, hope for, and envision, and then there's the real state of existence that we have to put up with. That's quite a gap."

This statement and idea gave me so much relief. I can feel its truth so strongly. Can't you? I feel it especially in its relation to my singing "career." I feel such a sense of despair and failure that my career hasn't gone as planned, as was set out for me in the trade magazines I read, in the "opera camps" I attended, in the entirety of my Masters training. The gap between what is and what should be or what I (am supposed to) want is wide, and it doesn't seem to be narrowing. As a result I feel panicked. It also works for the discrepancy between what my body actually is and what I want it to be. And I assign my very worth to the fact that I can't close this gap. I can't be what I want to be, and so I am a failure, a nothing, worthless.

I just want to be happy. We all just want to be happy. And I'm not, and nothing I do seems to really, deeply fill the happiness void and make me feel whole, except for listening to Buddhist teachings and studying Buddhist texts. And, frankly, that's scary, because what do I do now? I'm certainly not ready to become a nun, for goodness sake, and I'm not ready to separate from the things that I love, like my family and horseback riding and ice cream (though we all know where that leads) and wine and roller coasters and the beach and my kitten.

And though I now know that these "profit centers" that I've been working on won't bring me true, lasting happiness, I have to pursue the ability to make money and support myself, cause that's just a necessity, and I'd like to be able to do it in a reasonably pleasant way.

So I guess what has to change here is my mind, somehow. I need to stop feeling worthless because I can't close the gaps, and I need to start finding joy in what is. I need to Let it Be.

Maybe there's a reason why I cry every time I hear that song.

Be happy, everybody. Be what you are in this moment, and love it.