What I’ve always and only known: Fear and Attachment

From bus terminal to bus terminal, from gate to gate, maybe during a week of hiking or a week of navigating a new city, you carried hefty pieces of what seemed to be essential pieces of luggage. Tedious toil it was to lug around these pieces of what you came to refer as  (as) an extension of yourself. Maybe even in just the first few days or the first few weeks the physical exhaustion brought you to a point of mental exhaustion. Okay, relent.  Bags down, butt on the curb, shirt damp in hot sweat, head collapsed into the cradle of your own arms. Weary, resting from feebleness and fatigue at the corner of a gas station, the shade and the pavement holds you as your aching legs and shoulders slowly remediate. With deep gratitude, you mindfully sip on some sugary fruit juice, nursing back your strength, rekindling your hope and optimism. After just a moment you turn your head to examine what can come with and what can stay behind. “Surely, I don’t need all this junk”

And the luggage took offense, “Junk! Oh, it’s JUNK now is it? This whole time you’ve carried me from your home to the station, to be brought out into the open and experience every far length and corner of the world, AND I’M JUNK TO YOU?”

In your sweat, Possibility and Doubt stream down from all sides of your forehead. At this point you’re not sure what is more rational: to minimize your life out of necessity or to believe your luggage just spoke back to you like a heartbroken lover. Regardless of the decision, it’s not an easy one to consider. After all, this luggage is an extension of yourself—or so you have come to believe.

This is the image of fear, strange huh? Perhaps not quite how you would picture it, but that’s because fear, for many of us, is subtly written into all of our stage cues. For some, such as myself, fear is all I have ever known. From latent times as a child to the more prevalent times as a young adult, fear has influenced everything I have ever been, known, and done.

In which case, the thought of letting go of the heavy luggage maybe is not a terrifying thought, but one that certainly strikes you with nervous hesitation. As an “extension of yourself” it is hard to let go of a piece of what you believe to be you. A decision to detach may mean, at least under the influence of fear, having to be placed in a state of uncertainty and insecurity (aaahhh!!! scare-wee!!) Of course, things will feel different, perhaps uncomfortable at first, but the mind comes to be at ease when it is itself. Detaching from fears entails a process of reconciling and recognizing with yourself that you are what you are, and not any extension or influence of the self. Detachment leads us to realize that life can be lighter if given the choice. Lighter because life becomes simplified.

Not satisfied? Think of this: When coming to truly love someone, a person must not only love the parts of that other person that bring them joy, passion, and whatever the hell else, but also the parts of that other person that can bring a darker or maybe more complicated side. I don’t want to say the good or bad sides, because for sake of understanding, a person must love the “good” as well as the “bad” if they truly love the person. Should that seem hard? It may seem so, but in the same exhausting effort it can be to come to love your fears, it is just as hard to love someone’s fears (or whatever else falls into the “bad” category). When letting go of a life dominated by fear, a person comes to know themselves, trust themselves, and love themselves. Love encompasses fear, but fear does not encompass fear. Love dominates and pushes fear into remission and places it in the recesses of the soul.

If nothing else, I’ve found this mantra to be helpful. I use it every morning when I do my mindful walking,

“No longer should we fear

but love

for love

casts out fear.”

–Abba Anthony of the Desert

Letting go, my travels have been far more lighter, enriching, and truthful.

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