We look around for directions, for information, for a ‘map’ to a way to live. We might each have a different idea of success — monetary, social, living-conditions — but we do what we can, in this fragmented societal form, to find our tribe because of a sense that within ‘my kind of people’ we might find more than just belonging…we might find a formula.
Superstitions are formulaic: ‘do this, NOT that and the crops will flourish;’ or ‘do this, in this particular sequence, to ensure the health of one’s family;’ or some such.
How should we eat?
How should we parent?
How should we dress?
What kind of behavior should we expect of the children?
What kind of house is appropriate?
How should we furnish it?
What type of car?
It is easy to belittle the neurotic-seeming attention to minutiae. But none of us are immune to this. We are all looking for the place where we fit in; we are all looking for a map.
The thing about formulas is that they are something created (even by ourselves) in the past that are focused on the future (and manipulation or control of either future events or outcomes flowing from…) and leave little to no room for the present.
This is the connection with the buddhism I am reading about. The focus on the present is not because the past or future is to be vilified. The focus on the present is because this is all we have. This. One. Moment.
Formulas (superstitions, maps, religions, pre-conceived notions) may help us feel more at ease with our day-to-day lives — but sometimes it is a sense of peace that is illusory; it is rooted in fear and control. If things do not flow according to the plan put forth, we are at best confused and at worst completely lost/bereft/hopeless.
The ability to be ‘in the moment’ is a gift.
Accepting this moment without fear or need to control — is a wonder.
Children have this. They can look at the day, even if it is repetitious, as a whole new thing to be experienced and enjoyed.
We look into their faces and marvel at their ability to be in that moment, their ability to be caught up in the marvel and wonder when it is ‘just another Tuesday.’
But we can have that marvelous wonder too, if we can only let go of our formulas, let go of the need to have a map to guide our way, let go of the need to consult the past to control the future. Let go.
On my path today I suspect I will meet new people and encounter new experiences. I will present my children with new experiences and people as well. If I am wise I will imitate their friendly openness — which presents itself as the ability to go up to everyone they meet with a friendly ‘Hi!’
They surprise people with their openness.
They don’t have formulas.
They don’t even have well-trod expectations.
What they do have is happiness and eagerness and joy and curiosity.
And I can have these things too,
if I Just. Let. Go.