Friday, March 20, 2009

Letting go of obsessing

"The attitude that results from the Buddhist orientation and practice is quite different from the "mistaken mentality." One actually experiences mind as fundamentally pure, that is, healthy and positive, and "problems" as temporary and superficial defilements. Such a viewpoint does not quite mean getting rid of problems, but rather shifting one's focus. Problems are seen in a much broader context of health: one begins to let go of clinging to one's neuroses and to step beyond obsession and identification with them. The emphasis is no longer on the problems themselves but rather on the ground of experience through realizing the nature of mind itself. When problems are seen in this way, then there is less panic and everything seems more workable."--Chogyam Trungpa, from The Pocket Chogyam Trungpa

I picked a longer quote this time because it all felt like it needed to be there. I definitely "cling" to my neuroses! In fact, the two of us are inseparable! I used to think it was because I was working in Manhattan, where there's a higher than usual concentration of neuroticism, but no, here I am in Boston, still obessessing about the same things, mulling over the same (or similar) problems. It used to be "when will I get a boyfriend?" and I'd shoot arrows with my eyes whenever I saw a happy couple pass me on the street. Then it was "when will I get married?" and I'd wander around Kate's Paper, looking despondently at the wedding display with the satin guestbooks and the Cranes Thank You cards with the line drawing of a bridal bouquet or a car with "Just Married" on the bumper. Yes, I was in it for the cute stationery.

Now it's "when will I feel at home in Boston?" and "when will I find some girlfriends to invite over on a random Tuesday night or to go for a drink with around the corner?" It's been a long time since I've had any local friendships; everyone I meet seems to live somewhere else, somewhere you need to take two trains to reach. My neighbors are about the right age and are friendly but busy with their own lives. I find myself walking around town alone, and wondering why. Once upon a time I had my group of girls whom I met up with regularly, saw movies with, invited over for wine and cheese parties, had long discussions with. Does that naturally go away when you're in your 30's and married? I don't want to depend on my husband as my only emotional outlet and source of entertainment. He's a great guy, but that's too much for him, and let's face it, he's not going to cluck over clothes or gossip with me.

I worry that maybe I've lost the knack for making close friendships. Maybe it's something that you're only good at for a while, and then the older and more guarded you become, it gets harder and harder.

So that's what I've been obsessing about, and I'm tired of it. Maybe it's like when you're looking for love. You always find it when you're not thinking about it.


Suecae Sounds said...

What a terrific quote. And how hard it is to implement this level of thinking if you, like I, are prone to getting "stuck" in dead end thinking. I can relate to what you are writing, even though my problems are different.

Thanks for sharing.

Suecae Sounds said...

I will look up that book. I know next to nothing about Tibetan Buddhism, but maybe this could be an opportunity to learn more.

Jennifer Campaniolo said...

Hi Suecae Sounds,

I am really a beginning student of Buddhism myself but I like what I'm reading. I recommend Pema Chodron and her teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, to start off with. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is also supposed to be an excellent introduction. Thanks for commenting!