A friend and I were having breakfast at an Italian restaurant/café when she remarked I am different to everyone else she knows. The difference is marked and palpable according to her. This is feedback I have also received of other people so it hardly came as a surprise to me. I know I am different but it is interesting to hear how others perceive me at times, particularly those that know me best.
The degree to which I am different to others is very difficult to put into words my friend says. The best she can describe it, is I am a different species altogether to anyone she has met before. That’s a pretty powerful way of putting things, but again it is not feedback that is foreign to me. Suffice to say in at least a few people’s eyes I am an extreme outlier.
This difference is not immediately discernible. It is not something that stands out readily. Rather it is something that can only be discerned by spending time with me and also relates to the subject matter at hand. There has to be a good dash of paying attention to how I relate how I relate to the world and all its offerings. For example, my family is particularly poor at paying attention, so by and large I am the same person I was 40 years ago to them. My friends are a bit more observant, once they start to get to know me, they come to the conclusion that I am different after some time.
I asked my friend how am I different, telling her it’s good to hear someone else’s perspective sometimes. One of the most marked ways I am different according to her and my other friends, is that I just do not worry about life. This does not mean I do not care or shrug my shoulders at life. That is not how this whole business works. It is that I just do not experience anxiety and that seemingly is observable. Even in some pretty terrible situations, I just do not stress over those situations any longer.
An example might be that it seems like I have lost the ability to walk long distances permanently. In effect, I have lost what was once one of my favorite things to do, which was to go on long walks. As you could imagine this turn of events would be quite distressing for many people. By and large I handle things like this like a walk in the park. Forgive the pun, could not help myself! This also relates to other areas people struggle with. Pain for example. It is not that I do not experience pain, because I do at a chronic level these days. It is that pain does not create drama, there is no longer any suffering or hardship involved. It still hurts mind you, but that is ok.
The other thing that is most readily noticeable it seems, is that I am never unhappy. My friend describes it as “you (meaning me) never seem unhappy or down about anything, ever”. It seems about right, I can bitch and moan a little now and then but it never turns into unhappiness. Contentment is a good word to describe what is occurring internally. I do not walk around with a smile on my face or am rolling on the floor in stitches laughing, but I am content on the inside.
It says much about the world, when I am considered a ‘different species’, because I no longer experience, anxiety/stress and walk around contended. From my perspective, it is sad because this is achievable for just about everyone on the planet.
How is it achievable? Well that is the thing isn’t it? It does not come about through spiritual enlightenment, it comes about from growing up. Just that…
How do we grow up?
The keys are to progressively let go of control.
Observe your life, start paying meaningful attention.
Look to the patterns of your life of which there are many. Get to know yourself.
Do not be silly and get caught up with fads, learn to think! Most of the adviata teachers are pure drivel, most of the big spiritual teachers are the same. Think it through…
Really experiment with life. Figure out what works and what does not.
Be kind, be generous!
This last one gets overlooked a lot. We are cultivating a culture of spiritual narcissists that go about thinking they are spiritual… If you want to be happy, start giving. Nothing wrong with receiving, but there needs to be a good balance there.
Practice gratitude! That’s a biggy.
There is a lot more of course and a lot of is hard work. I hope when my book is finished, I can give people different ways to approach this state of being, which for lack of a better word we might call contentment?
At any rate since the conversation was fresh in my mind I thought I would share it, as I have been a bit sparing about my life of late.