“Let come what comes, let go what goes. See what remains.” – Ramana Maharshi
You’re pulling yourself apart like a giant piece of string cheese. The phrase “tearing out your hair” must have some truth to it. We live in a culture that favors the ambitious, the wealthy and tend to overlook the subjective experience of those idols. We forgo aesthetic, present living and artistic fulfillment. We forgo religion and patience and instead pair with aggression and absent-mindedness. We’re competitive and yet we go nowhere.
Some of us rebel against the mainstream. We become outsiders, outcasts, burnouts, drop-outs, ironic hipsters or addicts. We see the frosty landscape of humanity and decide it’s not worth thawing out. We turn our affections toward bitterness and cynicism in the name of creativity. But are the artists really even living? It’s tough to feel completely fulfilled when you’re at odds with half the population. Not being able to see the doctor for lack of funds has it’s own special kind of downside.
What I’m proposing here is a marriage between the fighting yoga and the loser bhoga. I think that whenever we pick, we necessarily decline half of our being. I guess this is a call for choiceless awareness. Maybe it’s time we stop fighting and denying our whole being and learn to float between two banks. A perfect metaphor, or rather concrete example, of this idea is in the balance between work and play.
Let’s say you want to work on something full-time. Maybe you’ve found your calling. Maybe you want to get ahead at work. We all know that this approach leads to burnout and lack of inspiration before long. Creativity needs space and rest. Science has shown that the brain works in two ways: one tense and one diffuse. Focusing is like a sprint; it can’t be done forever. The recovery period is where you really grow. Plus your best work is done when you’re happy. The longer you drag on, the worse you feel, the more you’re creating an imbalance in the natural flow and your work, and chutzpah invariably suffers.
You also want to eliminate bad habits. You throw away all the cheese in your refrigerator. You wake up early to work out. But before long you’re tired. You’re lacking the vibrancy that those extra chocolates used to give you. Cranky and sleepy, you know you can’t continue this forever. You’ve cut yourself off from your childlike flow so you become bored, anxious and full of conflict. Cheat days give you fun and diversion. The downtime helps spawn new ideas. But partying can be taken to an extreme. If you do it every day it dampens health, becomes less exciting and less inspiring.
Mentally, we always want to do our best. But the mind makes a better servant than a master, as they say. Instead of working on the same thing every day, be willing to give up a little progress in the name of balance, diversity and enjoyment. Whether it’s work, art and hobbies or a few soapy pints – too much is too much.
Hence, rest and labor balance each other.
Do not favor one or each will suffer.
Work when you feel you’re able.
Rest when you feel like resting.
Leave the rest in the hands of the unknown.
Then your path will be inimitable and you’ll feel whole.