To need and to want

I was reminded today, by someone very close to me, of the many things I had started or tried in the past year, that I ended up abandoning and giving up. One particular example immediately came to mind. Few weeks ago I signed for lessons in Swing dancing, a pursuit that has now come to an end.

Learning to dance is something I had always wanted, having always been a complete klutz on the dance floor, looking like a fool with two left feet. I’ve had a great deal of admiration for those people who can simply glide across the floor, marveling at, and yes envying, the ease with which they spin the most complex steps. It made me want to be like them, to be capable of happily enjoying a dance without embarrassment, and even maybe find myself the subject of admiration and applause.

So I signed up for something I wanted. And almost from the very beginning, I realized it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t who I was. I felt no joy at the mindless jumping up and down, that was anything but beautiful and graceful looked from the side. The constant change of partners in the class left me uncomfortable and unsettled, with a different stranger touching my hand, finding myself unable to find harmony and comfort with the ever changing hands that held mine.

So I gave it up. And today, following the remark about my inconsistency, it got me thinking. Why is it that we always want so many things, yet the moment we get them, we don’t want them anymore?

One of the first things I learned from my meditation teacher more than 15 years ago, was about the eternal battle each of us face, between the pursuit of our wants and the fulfillment of our needs. His words of warning – “We decide we want something and we go after it. And when we get it, we want it no more, now we want something else. So by design and definition, our wants can never be met. Our needs, on the other hand, always will be”.

But where do our wants and needs spring from? Our wants come from our ego, that pushes us to always want more. This is how it makes itself useful, it justifies its existence. We get it in our heads that we want something, we achieve it by will, work or sacrifice, and it brings no happiness or joy. We think we’ve wasted our time. So the ego jumps back up, putting a new batch of thoughts in our heads, making us want the next thing. And off we go… But it’s a losing battle we fight. It’s like building a cabin of straw on a windy beach, and every time we complete it, the tide comes in and washes it away. And we have to start from scratch. Giving into the illusion that the constant ‘building’ gives our life a purpose. Except that it doesn’t. We are wasting time and energy we don’t have, to build something we don’t need, to impress an ego that doesn’t serve us. And where is all of this rooted? Our ego lives in the past. It is the sum of all of our fears, pains and disappointments. We are trying to solve problems that no longer exist, because we have long grown past them. We no longer need the cabin of straw. We now need a castle of stone.

And this is where our needs come in. They come from the soul. From the path we have charted for ourselves for this life, before we even started it. Our soul doesn’t need the pursuit of momentary happiness, fleeting pleasure or instant gratification. It needs no cabin of straw. The soul’s work is to build a castle. Something solid, unshakable, indestructible. A sustainable foundation, on which we can base the next layer of growth and evolution on our path. A home, where we can find shelter from the harshest storms, where we revive and recharge ourselves after each of life’s challenges. It takes time, and the building stones are often heavy, but the reward is greater than we could possibly imagine.

The ego bombards us with thoughts and fears and doubts every minute of every day. That’s all we hear – what we don’t have, what we can’t achieve, how we must get this, do that, be something else. Surrounded by unconcerned faces, deafened by the news on TV and the mindless chatter of social media, manipulated by false admirers and ‘friends’ with hidden agendas, the voice of our soul – quiet, subtle and unobtrusive – is drowned out by the shouts of our ego.It speaks to us through our feelings, but how often do we silence our feelings and our intuition, to follow the voice of ‘common sense and logic’? How often do we convince ourselves that the right choice IS the right choice, even when deep down it feels anything but right?

This is where all of our pain and misery come from. From the conflict of doing what we want, instead of getting what we need. From not living in our truth but putting on a show, for the world and our ego to see. Following the voice of our ego will lead us down a path of emptiness and disappointment. We will find admiration, but not true love. We will find followers, but not partners, we will find success , but not fulfillment. The voice of the soul, however, leads us back to ourselves, to the things that matter the most, the only things that are truly real.

The voice of the soul can only be heard in silence, solitude and stillness. When we disconnect from the world, when we stop looking without, and we start searching within. So find a quiet place, sit down with your eyes closed, and just be. And ask yourself the questions that trouble you the most. Let your thought flow freely. If an answer comes to you and it leaves you feeling unsettled and sad or angry, it’s not the right one, move on. The right answer will leave you feeling happy, balanced, it will leave you feeling ‘right’.

Your life is not a business deal, you are not running a corporation. Your job is not to ‘do the right thing’. Your job is to be blissfully happy, fulfilled, and to feel at home, no matter where you are. So go on, sit in silence and find your home.

Namaste.

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Commitment – is it a myth, or is it just rare?

We’ve all been part of, or witnesses to, this conversation. We are in a relationship and it’s going well, but we are contemplating putting an end to it, because the other person “just won’t commit”. We go on and on about everything we have invested in this endeavour, how we have spent time, energy, effort and emotions on this person, but at the end of the day “what’s the point of going on if we don’t know where it’s all going”. Why try and stay in there, if we don’t have any guarantees that they just won’t up and leave some day. And it’s not just relationships that face this spell of doubt from time to time. We apply this way of thinking to almost any aspect of our lives. Why go to gym every day, when it’s almost impossible to get into shape? Why save up, when the taxman or inflation will take it all away? Why work hard, when no one knows who that promotion will go to? Why commit to anything, when we know it can be lost in a blink of an eye? But on the other hand, we want commitment. We expect it. And it’s the job of those closest to us to deliver it.

The more I think about it though, the more I realize – we don’t control what others do or want or aspire to. We can’t demand something from another, if they are not willing to surrender it freely. We can’t expect or get attached to future outcomes. The future does not exist. What exists is the present. And the only thing we can control, is ourselves. Extracting a promise of ‘forever’ might sound appealing and comforting now, but ‘forever’ is a myth, a chimera for those who sit and wait for things to happen to them instead of making it happen for them. So we demand promises for the future, we expect the person next to us to bend at our will and construct their life upon the blueprint of ours, and inevitably, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

Commitment however, is not a myth. It’s just not something we can find out there. Because it can only exist within. It’s about having a clear vision of who we are, our values, principles, character, and acting out of them consistently and without compromise. It’s about having a vision for our future, and who and where we want to be. And committing to make improvements and take action every day to make that future happen. In love, it’s about being the best partner you can be and, without sacrificing your integrity or your own happiness, to bring light, peace and joy to the one you love. It’s about committing, every day, one day at the time, to give your best, to be your best, given what life you want to live and what kind of a person you aspire to be. Today. Relationships that last a lifetime were not built on a once-off promise or vow. They last a lifetime made up of one day at the time after the other. The commitment, made every morning, that today I will love you and no one else, that today I will be faithful, that today I’m by your side in sickness and in health… And that’s how days turn into months, and months turn into years, the years into a lifetime.

My partner and I have a little ritual. Every morning we say to each other “Happy so-many-months-and-days together, my love. Today I love you, today I’m yours”. We congratulate ourselves for having made it so far and we promise ourselves to each other, today. And for that day, we are as committed as two people can be.

So don’t wait for promises and assurances. Nothing is certain in life, everything changes. Decide what you are committed to and pursue it. Passionately, relentlessly and with burning desire not to get it all but to give it all. You might not always get what you wanted or hoped for, but at least, looking back at it one day, you will be able to say “I gave it all I had and I made the best of it”.

Behind the scenes: Online dating

In a globally connected world, it’s no mystery that the Internet is… well, connecting people. People all over the world, all age groups, all kinds of personalities, a variety of interests. The virtual land of unlimited opportunity. The genuine realm of communication. The place to find new friends and accomplices, to share the same passion or discover a new one. A world of options on a 24’’ screen. Internet is the place for business and of course, to date.

In an environment where we make payments, earn a living, and order food online, it seems pretty natural that we seek to find love online, too. And why not? Why not try finding our soul mate on the Internet, since we are given so many options to do so? And the bunch of dating sites available make it seem quite easy, too.

So, this is how it basically goes.

Day 1. You finally decide to give online dating a shot. You pick a site and create an account. Put a profile photo, fill in some info about yourself here and there, and you start waiting impatiently for the One to come get you. But they wouldn’t. The darn bastard is horribly quiet. As if to compensate and provided that you’ve picked one of the coolest and hottest among your pics, you get a number of “hey sexy” messages and a few direct sex offers. You’re still full of hope and somewhat feeling adventurous, so you decide to check up on the relevant profile just to make sure. Well, at the end of the day, it seems you’re not that adventurous as you previously thought, so you run away scared, closing the browser.

Day 2. Your phone app joyfully informs you that you’ve got @ new messages! “Wow, cool!”, you think, so you go check them. Some Turkish guy asks you to go visit. Some Indian looking 15 finds you lovely. Somebody without a profile picture insists on you giving them your phone number. Nothing from the love of your life. You sigh on the inside and tell yourself that love takes time. You politely reply to the Indian to say thanks (after all, it was so nice of him!) and ignore the sender with no pic.  Consider if you should reply to the Turkish guy, then decide it’s a waste of time.

Day 3. The app says your profile has been checked @ times! You’re delighted. Seems like there’s some hope. Logging in, you receive an angry message from the Turkish. He saw you online and apparently finds the lack of a reply insulting and girls like you unworthy of his attention in general. You ignore him. The Indian is trying hard to start some conversation asking you about your interests. This time you don’t bother replying. Ten minutes online and you’re offered a threesome. Thrilling… but no.

Day 4. You decide to take matters into your own hands or at least give fate a helping kick in the arse, by looking for the love of your life yourself. You start browsing profiles. If the app allows so, you specify a few criteria to limit search results based on what exactly you’re looking for. Taking the initiative, you message a few people that you find kinda cute. In the meantime, you receive a message from a person having a strong BDSM reference as a profile picture, a dog lover, and by someone who tends to display their six pack. On all six pictures.

Day 5. You have a message from one of your objects of interest and the Turkish is back, insisting that you must pay him some attention! He’s a good guy after all! That’s when you discover the block option. Full of hope, you read the important message, just to find out that the guy is married and he’s only looking for some fun (such honesty is quite rare, by the way, as you find out later on). A few other insignificant messages in your inbox, but nothing special. The hunt is on.

The next few days you spend browsing random profiles, replying to random messages and occasionally blocking a few profiles. At that point, your faith in finding love online is a bit shaken. So you find one or more online dating sites, where the story follows more or less the same pattern. You spend hours of your life revealing your interests in detail, trying to get to know the other person and eventually you might find new acquaintances or even go on a date. And maybe, just maybe, your blind date might end up into something pretty nice. If you get very lucky.

The general truth of online dating is that people lie. They might lie about their age, their interests, preferences, marital status, and even put someone else’s picture as their own. The Internet gives you the freedom to be anyone, anywhere, and that’s why it’s so hard to find what you’re looking for. Regardless of the numerous opportunities it provides, you should always keep in mind that most often than not, things are not what they might seem. As a rule, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. In rare cases, however, it is possible to find a person that just “fits you like a glove”. History knows cases when people meet online (on a dating site or not), they start communicating and it all just clicks. They start chatting, calling each other, exchanging pictures, sharing opinions on various subjects and discovering they have a lot in common. It seems they always have something more to say to each other, so it goes on and on and finally, hoping for the best expecting the worst, they meet. And when they do, they both realize that it was meant to happen. That this encounter was not accidental, that there was a deeper meaning to it, so they start revealing it, gradually and enjoying each step of the way.

To conclude, it is for a fact that the Internet has never connected so many people worldwide, but at the same time it disconnects them more than ever. Beyond all question, tête-à-tête contact remains the best way to get to know to a person, but finding your soul mate online is not that ridiculous as it might seem. It has worked for many people and keeps working. So go and give it a try (but bear all of the above in mind) and who knows what might happen? After all, life is unpredictable.

Learn to let go

Sometimes in life we get attached. And sometimes we surrender to love, unconditionally and without being reasonable for even a moment. But sometimes circumstances seem to be against us and no matter how hard we try, we don’t get what we want, which hurts us deeply. Nevertheless, just like a moth to a flame, we keep going back to the same “wrong” person, to the same circumstances that make us suffer. Time and time again. It’s like if we keep trying, we’d finally get there. We’d finally make it happen, winning not only the battle, but eventually the war. But who are we really fighting? The person who fails to make us happy? Circumstances? Fate? Life? What is this urge to constantly get back to what hurts us? And even if it might bring some positive emotions for a while, it’s obviously not beneficial to us in the long run. So why are we so insistent?

In most cases, it’s all the ego speaking. We feel that not getting something that we want, is a sign of failure. So we keep trying. And suffering. But what if that person is not good for us? What if we weren’t meant to be together in the first place? Not much of a consolation, I know. So we tend to keep living the illusion, using it to comfort us when we’re down. And we keep feeding the self-delusion any way we can, because we don’t like the true colors of truth. But what’s the point of all that anyway? What’s the point in living the illusion when real life is nothing like it? What’s the point in dreaming of the end of the rainbow, when we’re not even sure it’s what we’ve been expecting it to be? We just want it. Now. Yesterday.

Most of us tend to have that weak point – that one and only person, who, inter alia, is able to make us vulnerable and responsive. That person who messes our heads up and whose words touch our hearts deeply. Usually in the blink of an eye and without much effort. That person, for whom we’d turn the world upside down. For whom we’d do anything,  go anywhere, risk it all. Call it obsession, call it fixation, but they have the power to make everything look and feel different. And we believe there’s that special connection between us. That it’s mutual and shared. And even though our reasoning mind says “no”, our heart says “yes”. Yes to all. Refusing to label the chimera as such, we await that text message, that call, those words of love, that would justify the wait and make up for all the suffering so far. But where does all that end? And does it at all… ever?

We might get what we want for a short while, but most often it doesn’t last and we’re left alone again. To hope and dream. We’re back to that painful waiting phase, telling ourselves it just wasn’t the right time and inevitably finding a number of excuses. And against all logic, instead of seeing the situation as it is, we tend to live the lie. We find all the reasons, all the excuses we need to keep believing. Truth, however, is quite simple, although often blurred by emotions. I consider emotions our worst enemy, for they prevent us from seeing the actual situation, the big picture and drag us back to our comfort zone. What difference does it make if we are hurt? What difference does it make if we are not happy? Emotions certainly don’t care about any of this. No matter if we are inclined to admit it or not, deep inside we know the truth. We know if that person is to be a part of our future or not. We know if they are good for us or not. We realize that we must let go at some point. But we just don’t want to accept it. Even deny it. And acceptance is the hardest part. Sometimes, though, it’s better to wave the white flag. Sometimes it’s better to just let go of what doesn’t serve us. “But I love him/her!”, I hear you insist. “It’s love and it’s meant to be! It will eventually happen!” Euh… sorry, but no. Ain’t gonna happen and the sooner you realize it, the better.

Love is not supposed to be an effort. It’s not supposed to be a torture, or suffering.  It can be hard, indeed, and that’s for a fact, but love flows. It’s never consuming and deceiving. It never leaves you helpless and hopeless, quite the contrary, for what is meant to be, it just is. It’s there. You don’t need to look any further. You don’t need to question it or doubt it. You don’t need any proof or evidence that it’s there. Relationships vary based on what people are looking for/demanding from their significant other, but in essence it’s not supposed to be complicated or difficult. If they are, you might consider to reconsider. It’s one thing to have that special person going in and out of your life on a constant basis, but a completely different thing to let them overwhelm you in a harming way. You should not let them affect you negatively. Hard, I know. And even harder, if your heart is shouting louder than your common sense. But still, you should respect yourself enough to know when it’s best for you to say “no”. And just let go.