Adonis Diaries

Archive for May 6th, 2018

“The miracle is to walk on the green earth and dwelling in the present moment “ Thich Nhat Hanh

Bruna Kesserwani, regional director of operations of the World Youth Alliance in the Middle East, posted on October 25, 2013

Learning to Truly Live

All my life I’ve been accused of thinking too much and not doing enough. And rightly so.

I have always been crippled by the idea of having to decide on the correct action to take, mainly because I have a stubborn habit of constantly challenging my own ideas, only to realize that they are imperfect, thus not ready to be acted upon.

Obviously this approach to life is not very effective.

If at all, ideas kept in our minds are simply ideas. And ideas alone don’t do much except entertain us and give us even more ideas to think about. There’s really no end to thinking, for better or worse. 

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The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I once knew someone who approached life in almost diametrical opposition to the way I do. He was a doer par excellence.

When he had an idea, he made it happen. I was jealous of him.

I would try to show him why his ideas were bad or how they could go wrong but he wouldn’t have it, he just did whatever came to his mind.

Nowadays it’s likely that people would agree more with his approach than with mine.

After all, at least he was trying. At least he was doing something.

All I was doing was exactly nothing. Except talking sometimes. But that’s basically the same thing.

I’ve always been annoyed by this about me. I’ve watched people achieve amazing things in their lives while I was still pondering in my living room, carefully weighing the pros and the cons, continually paralyzed by possibilities, never deciding on anything.

I have also always thought that this was simply a character defect and that eventually, if I didn’t change, I will never actually achieve anything.

And though I still believe this, I’ve lately come to realize that though it is noble and worthy for us to take on endeavors in life and achieve them, doing so too recklessly can be useless at the least and dangerous at most.

For example, a young man who has huge dreams. And maybe his huge dream is to make a million dollars or maybe his huge dream is to change the world.

We are constantly encouraged to dream and strive for big goals, and to pursue them with a near ruthless drive and so our young man is in the right environment, one that constantly encourages him to take on these massive challenges.

It takes minimal experience in life to realize that there is basically a universal equation for achieving goals.

The shortest route from A to B is a straight line. Practically, this means that the fastest way to achieve our goals is to be as single-minded and focused as possible.

And if our goals motivate us, then we would want to achieve them as fast as possible. Fast also means that we will be putting in enormous amounts of energy and concentration into our goals, which can literally make us feel “high” or as they call it in psychology, “flow”.

So much around us perpetuates this idea of the holiness of goals and achievement, from parents to schools to Steve Jobs to pop culture to self-help books and our friends and family, so fertile is the ground for this approach that it can almost seem like the only way to go about life.

Our own experience, the zeal we feel when we get up every morning with a purpose, a goal to which to direct our energy, a raison d’être, all of this only serves to further reinforce the appeal, intellectually and emotionally, of goal-oriented living.

And off we go, laser-focus in our motivation and action, moving in one definite direction, exhilarated by its energy, our motivation constantly reinforcing itself.

And then we reach our goal. (Not sure what was His goal)

The best thing that can happen afterwards is that we will be happy and bask in our achievements, taking our minds off of this tunnel vision mode and regaining perspective of life. But rarely do we so that, because goals are addictive.

And what usually happens is a crash after a high which only itches until we get ourselves amped up again with yet another goal, barely any time between the two.

The least harmful thing that can happen in situations like this is that we become unable to enjoy life for what it is, we waste our lives pursuing goal after goal and when we are near death, we regret not having just enjoyed it all.

We reach the end with a million medals and encyclopedic knowledge and one dying leaf of wisdom, one rusted strand of love. (Are we talking about the same subject matter? Was the goal to amass a Renaissance knowledge and skills?)

But that’s only the least harmful thing that can happen. The worst can be a lot worse. When young man decides to change the world, to start a revolution, to do whatever he thinks should be done, he also goes after it with the same single-minded zeal that someone working towards a million dollars does.

To achieve his goal he must become consumed by it and in the process, he will inevitably lose perspective.

His goal becomes his life mission and without it he is nothing. He become deliberately blind to anything that might be wrong, hurtful or dangerous about his goal and he continues towards it, high on “flow” and endorphins, satisfying himself with the idea that he is changing the world, even reaching the conclusion that the ends justify the means, his noble goal will justify what it took to get there.

It is in this state of mind that leaders have destroyed entire nations, oblivious to everything around them except the vision at the end of the tunnel.

Having taken no time to introspect, to re-evaluate, to question themselves, to adapt, to diversify their lives, to cultivate wisdom along the way, to maintain the kind of leisure and pastimes and relationships and idleness that cultivate a wider and wiser perspective of life, they become consumed with their vision, and it becomes their very reason to exist.

There is nothing wrong with goals, with missions and with causes in-and-of themselves, but when those come to define our existence, they can become dangerous for us and for others around us.

To pursue goals responsibly we need wisdom, not only passion, and not only knowledge. We need wisdom to think deeply and widely about what we want, why we want it, and what its possible consequences are. We need wisdom to understand ourselves, to deeply introspect and question the very reason that we want to pursue things. (Are we still referring to the young men?)

Sometimes it’s to become rich and powerful, sometimes it’s to escape having to face ourselves, life, death and all the other uncertainties of life.

We need wisdom to know that goals can become as addictive as drugs, that even goals need to be balanced with seemingly useless things like quiet time, art, love, nature, because those further develop our wisdom, remind us what truly matters, give our goals perspective.

To constantly search for a cause, a goal, a mission is a goal in and of itself, and that itself can strip our lives of richness as it becomes our sole obsession. (Isn’t caring for family a consistent goal that has nothing of an addictive behavior in it?)

Before we take it on ourselves to die for something, let’s take some time to first learn how to live, for nothing but life itself, for nothing but the glory of walking on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment, experiencing the miracle of life.

 

Comments and Notes posted on FB and Twitter in Arabic/Lebanese slang. Part 1

Note: These are notes and comments in Lebanese dialect written in Latin characters and with numbers (2,3, 5, 7,8) representing vocals and consonants Not available in Latin or Saxon languages.

Iza mourrasha7een bi la2e7at al Za3eem baddon yet7awalou la Yes, Yes deputy, badna sawt 7orr bil Majless yesda7: Charbel Nahas.

I love you too much, My darling I love you, albi elek 3etesh, Il faut que tu l’avoue. wa enn eja 7ada 5ayri, ililo Etech, wa a7ro2 deen abouh, Oumi ta na3mel Match, al3aab 5aramiyya

Shokran Donald Trump: jounounak al ghashem (pronouncement of Jerusalem as Capital of Israel) a7ya rou7 Falestine fi dameer shou3oubinat

Masse7 joukh wa 3awwed al naass 3al 7arad

Kel 3omro yemssa7 joukh: saar 7alla al naass temssa7 joukho?

Ma kan ye2der yemssa7 joukh kel 7ayato: 7abeb yet3allam yemssa7 joukh la ba3d naass kaadirat wa maghmourat

Bte3te2ed al jessem byou3a bil sobo7 bidoun kem a77at?

Mondasseen? USA/Israel/Saudi Kingdom bi yedfa3o lal mondasseen. La a3taked youridoun al mazeed min al ghadab al 3arem. Al mouzaharaat, fi 3awkar, hiya min mouwatineen la zaalou a7yya2 yorzakoun

“tasweeb al bousalat” na7wa Falestine ta talaba 40 sanat.  “Wa konna nourahen” kezbat ta3ni “konna ma3zouleen wa manssiyyen”

Khalass. Bala zanakha. Meen 3azam al mauwt?

Shou ya3ni “el3ab 3ala al mal3ab al tani?” Hal kel mal3ab moukhassass le ba3d al laa3ibeen?

Tal al amar (Moon) min faw2 beit Ra7aal, Kif nouro sate3 3alayna, Koumi 7atta nekmsho Angelle, wa nfarfko bi kfouf idayna

 


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