Friday, June 17, 2011
On Embracing Uncertainty - and Resisting the Urge to Attach
As I’ve mentioned once or twice on this blog, I have decided to take a vow of celibacy – a vow of celibacy to last until I am comfortable and satisfied being by myself and no longer depend on partners or external attachments to make me happy. Until I would like the enrichment of a partner in my life but do not feel a compelling need to have one in order to be “whole.”
Unlike Jerry McGuire, I ideally would not like to tell my next partner, “You Complete Me.” I want to get to a point where I feel in every fiber of my being that “I Complete Me” – and a partner would just be icing on the cake. Once I know in my heart and my gut that I have reached that point - then I can open my heart to explore all of the wonders that the dating pool has to offer - then I can open up to the possibility of meeting my next life partner when the universe sees fit to bring us together.
When I first broke up with my ex-boyfriend a month ago, this seemed like a relatively easy vow to make – our lives were so wrapped up with each other during our relationship that the new space and freedom in my life seemed like a breathe of fresh air – I was eager to go out into the world and explore everything that it has to offer. I believe this attitude of creatively and appreciate is one to try and maintain at all times as best you can – some like to call it a “Beginner’s Mind."
This week, some of the “work” of my celibacy vow has started to come in as the initial excitement has worn off, and I’ve begun to truly internalize the fact that I am alone for the time being in this journey of mine. Sure, I have tons of friends and loved ones and people to interact with along this adventure, but in the end, I’m the only one on my particular itinerary – this is a solo trip - there is no one to depend upon but me (and God).
As the excitement has faded and the work of maintaining the commitment has set in, many questions have arisen in my mind. What does a vow of celibacy really mean to me? Should I go on dates with people? Should I meet friends for tea? Am I isolating myself too much? Too little? Am I still continuing to make the most of what life has to offer given that I could die any moment now? Am I still giving and sharing enough love with the world? How can I and should I meet my natural human desire for intimacy during this period of celibacy? As you can see, lots of questions have arisen – and I don’t yet know all of the answers to those questions. To some degree, I am going to have to play this one by ear – listening carefully to my gut along the way.
Other things have come up for me as well. Desire and grasping have been a big theme in my world this past week – one of the five hindrances that we learn about in the dharma. Rather than focusing on the present, I have found myself desiring for others’ company and frantically searching the Internet for training programs in every modality under the sun to join – basically just another way of searching for another person or another thing to define me and center my life around - old habits die hard. As Howard Cohn likes to mention in his teachings at Mission Dharma, I have been falling into the delusion of thinking, If I have X…or if Y happens…or if I am with Z…THEN I’ll be happy, then Life Will Be Grand.
Just like a impatient soul eagerly wanting to skip ahead to the end of a great book in order to see what happens…I find myself wanting to skip past this juicy and exciting period of exploration and attach myself to something once and for all – to become a life coach or a yoga teacher or a Biodanza instructor or a Reiki practitioner or a Hypnotherapist – or an ordained Buddhist minister – or better yet all of them – already – and be there tomorrow! In my delusion and desire and discomfort with uncertainty, I am forgetting that this period of exploration - of trying things on for size - is the FUN PART!
I encourage you to all think of a time in your life when you have fallen into the same patterns of delusion – when you’ve been job searching and have been eager to just quit the process and FIND A JOB already. When you’ve been going on dates and exploring the dating pool and have been eager to just FIND A MATE already. When you’ve been visiting grad schools and applying to programs and have been eager to just FIND A PROGRAM already. We’ve all been there, right?
The problem is – when we get to that point in our lives…that delicious and precious time when the world truly is our oyster and we can follow just about any fork in the road – we miss the very beauty of it by hurrying along to GET TO THE END ALREADY. We rush the process in order to avoid the uncertainty – rather than embracing the possibilities that it brings. Life is full of opportunity costs, and we can’t have everything – that’s a basic lesson that my Economics degree taught me. Every hour that I spend going to Biodanza class or writing this blog is an hour I can’t also spend getting some sleep or reading a favorite book – life is all about choices.
But – right before you make that choice – there’s that beautiful, pregnant pause…where it really does seem like you can have it all – where the possibilities are endless and you can’t possibly dream how it’s going to turn out. Don’t miss it – it’ll be pass by in a flash before you know it.
Poof – your kids will be all grown up already. Poof - you’ll become a Certified Yoga Instructor – and think wistfully about the time when you were seriously considering becoming a Biodanza teacher instead. Poof - you’ll settle into the work of writing term papers and going to class, but think back to how nice it was when the schools were working hard to recruit you rather than grade you on the quality of your output. Poof – someday (hopefully) I’ll be married with two kids, a dog, a picket fence, and a successful career as a Life Coach (or ???) – and I’ll think back wistfully to this time in my life when I had endless time and energy to do whatever I wanted – whatever compels me at each given moment – without any obligations or responsibilities.
This time – right now – is a precious gift for me (and for you). If I can stay present with it and embrace the uncertainty and opportunities that my life holds – and if I can continually ask myself, “What do I want to do right now?” this can be a magical time for me. If I can resist the usual urge that emerges right at this time in a breakup – once the dust settles – to throw myself headfirst into a new relationship or commitment in order avoid my discomfort with being alone and get off this shaky ground, I have a feeling that I’ll find riches beyond belief in this "define as I go, celibate path of self and life exploration" that I am on. May you find joy in whatever path of exploration you are on as well – moment by moment, step by step.