This #thoughtfultuesday has been in development over the past few years as I have watched my nephews develop, crawling from infanthood and walking into childhood. During my time with them this weekend, I was amazed by their mastery of presence. Children are living baby Buddha’s; the world is full of mystery and awe, each of its challenges are adventures. Regardless of how the day is about to transpire, they rouse with excitement and wonder. Children fully embrace the ecstasy of simply being alive.
My nephews’ arrival into each day is in stark contrast to mine. From my mid-twenties until today, mornings have been a major pain in my ass. In my twenties, anxiety and stress pulled me out of bed each morning, in fear of making it to work or class on time or meeting productivity quotas and deadlines. Since the breakdown of 2018, anxiety and stress no longer have the same stimulating effect that they once had. In fact, their presence now has the opposite effect. At best, my body is like a breaker box. As soon as anxiety or stress is put on the breaker box, the fuse blows and the lights go out. With a fully functioning breaker box, the problem is quickly resolved by switching the fuse back to ON. My fuse seems to take 24 hours to turn back on; it turns out that this is not overly conducive to life. Since this has been happening for approximately a year, I have recently come to the conclusion that I am tired of being tired. I recognize that it isn’t feasible to convince or will myself with some external reason to get out of bed in the morning. So naturally, I have begun contemplating how to view the world through the lenses that my nephews’ wear. I think the answer lies somewhere between complexity and simplicity, involving plugging back into the play of existence.
What does play mean in the adult world? As I sit back and dissect the developed western world, it seems like there has been a loss of authentic play. I commonly see individuals in their twenties, thirties, and (sadly) beyond relying on substances to facilitate and connect with this notion of play. Although I do not deny the talent and allure of professional athletes and sport, it appears that adults are more apt to be a viewer of athletics and sport; people are more content to be a voyeur than a participator. Has the human spirit gone so awry, that individuals can no longer embrace their innate need to play?
Perhaps the term play makes adults a little squirmy, because it connotates childishness. If you fall into this category, then you may prefer the term flow. I recently completed Driveby Daniel Pink, a book delving into the research on human motivation. Daniel Pink devotes a section to the topic of flow. You are likely wondering, what is flow?Flow is a realm we enter when we are fully immersed in a project or activity. Often when we are in flow, we lose track of space and time. Pink defines this realm as the space between order and disorder/chaos. Although it may appear that thoughts are rather absent in this realm, they are still existent (even the Dalai Lama admits that he is never without thought), but it provides some space between our physical selves and our thoughts. Eckhart Tolle defines the space between our physical selves as the real You, which some may label the soul. In Non-Dual terms, this is where we are connected to that which is beyond ourselves (Tao, oneness, enlightenment, existence). In this state of flow, we recognize that existence itself is a vast cosmic play.
I can attest that I have been and will continue to be trapped by the illusion of control. Adyashanti states, “The reality is that we don’t have any control; the [self] has no control over how reality unfolds and reveals itself.” I make the argument that the more we strive for control and predictability, the further we move from flow. From a societal lens, I predict that this is exactly what is manifesting. As life becomes increasingly complex, fast-paced, and materialistic, there is a desperate grasping for greater control. Consequently, humankind moves further from connection and being. Thus, begins this vicious cycle of utter unhappiness. How does all of this theory relate to my predicament?
I too am easily entranced by control. Seemingly, the relationship between feeling out of control and striving for increased external control are positively correlated. This has been particularly apparent in the presence of persistently mysterious health issues. In this moment, I am telling myself and whoever decides to read this, that external control is a big ol’ bucket of bullshit. In transparency, it takes courage and vulnerability to accept and surrender to the unknown. As my nephews demonstrate to me on the daily, there is much to be reaped by letting go of my demands and embracing aliveness. This isn’t to say that there won’t be hardships along the way, but they are living proof that these hardships can be greeted with a sense of curiosity and adventure, an ugly cry, or some theatrical shouting and screaming.
Lovingly Devoted to Gabe & Bodhi