Satisfied with what is in your hand?
I remember once going to a talk at a local Buddhist retreat. At the beginning of the talk the speaker asked the audience to hold out their hand and then make a fist. We all dutifully did this and held our fists for what seemed a long time. Then we were asked to open our hands and relax them. I remember the feeling of peace that came over me. Sometimes I still do this exercise as it reminds me not to hold on to anything. Try it now.
I hate letting go. I really do. If I am on a bus I want to help the driver look out for hazards. When flying I always want to the window seat so I can let the pilot know if an engine catches on fire. If I am in a car when a friend is driving I have a constantly tensed right leg so I can hit my imaginary brake if I have to.
I know, I know, this is a hugely controlling way to live. I am working on it. I am really working on it in my relationships whether in my family or in my love life. All you can really do is take a look at what you have in front of you. “Notice, notice, notice…”
If you are in love with someone who is really not available for a committed relationship you have only yourself to blame for wanting one with this person. You have only yourself to count on for moving forward and finding someone who is available to love you and be with you in a way that makes you feel safe. If you stay in a relationship where you are always wanting what is not offered, you are bound to be hurt and disappointed most of the time.
Why do we stay? Sometimes you stay because we think having something is better than having nothing. Most of us didn’t have enough in our childhoods. I hate to malign parents in the 50’s but something went really wrong. There are many of us out there who suffer from abandonment and have panic attacks at the thought of losing a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. The idea of being alone is so much worse than the state of wanting. I guess the state of wanting is one where you can always hope you will get what you want.
Here is the problem. You probably never will. A better question to ask yourself is why do you want something from someone who cannot give this to you? Why are you putting yourself constantly in the position of grasping with your hand out, tense and desirous?
Imagine what it would feel like to be in a relationship with someone who loved you and wanted to be with you. You would have someone to call if you were in an accident and expect them to come to the hospital. You would know who you were going to spend the weekend with. You would look forward to Christmas with a cozy dinner and gifts. Or a cozy dinner and no gifts.
My point is you would have the knowledge that someone was there for you when you needed them. Imagine how that would feel. I imagine it would feel like it did when I released my clasped hand so long ago. I really liked that feeling.
If we could practice this in our lives we would save ourselves a lot of pain. We would clearly see what another offered, was capable of offering, and we could chose to reply on them, or not.
The problem is that most of us seem to be more comfortable relying on imagination and hope than the reality of what is. It may be more Buddhist to the “other “if we see them for what they are, accept them and stop wanting more.
Choosing the right person to want to be in a love relationship with is possible and can happen. That is my dream at the moment. In terms of family relationships, detachment works in much the same way. Make note of the behavior and do not expect it to change. We only have the power to change our own behavior and with whom we interact with on an intimate basis. We have the power within ourselves to choose friends we can count on and lovers who adore us.
Interestingly enough, once we practice this behavior we have to stop wanting from others. We see what is available more clearly and it doesn’t hurt us. We know we are being unreasonable if we keep on wanting more from a person and we begin to see the person for what they are. They are not bad because they don’t love us in the way we want to be love, they are just what they are.