“Dude, just enjoy”

As a writer, I’m often guilty of pouring out words and labeling my life. Instead of relaxing, taking in the moment, I’m fantasizing about some far away place. It’s easy to write about these fantasies and dreams because our minds can create such beautiful possibilities. What is truly difficult, however, is living in the moment, whether good or bad, and taking it all in.

On Facebook, a person commented on a photo of mine with “enjoy”. What they probably meant was “I enjoy this” but they didn’t finish the thought. Instead of letting it go, I responded with a question mark. The comment seemed unusual and I wanted to know what they meant.

Almost immediately another friend responded with, “Dude, just enjoy”. It’s taken about a year to realize the true meaning of this.

While I was walking down the beach earlier today, I thought about it and was lead back to the word “enjoy”. It’s a simple two syllable word that we throw around and occasionally hear when we order food or go to the movies. We think of it like, “here’s your ice cream, enjoy!”. Essentially it has lost its meaning because of how often we use it.

What does “enjoy” really mean? It’s when you appreciate the world around you and the situation that you’re in. It means that you’re living in the moment and loving what is happening to you. More than anything, it’s the acceptance of life in its rawest form: you’re letting the world in. You’re truly feeling the taste of the ice cream or the sand on your feet.

Later that day I went out with some friends who got really drunk. The police were involved and it’s a long story that I’ll write about tomorrow. When we were sitting down with the cops, after about an hour, I remembered “enjoy”. Our situation was horrible and we would be up staying late that night, but I accepted it as part of my life. I took “enjoy” and just appreciated the moment for what it was.

In retrospect, it’s the small moments in each day that form our lives. Sleeping late on Sunday may seem meaningless but after a month, maybe you’ll appreciate stretching in bed and laying around. After a year, you may look back and remember those days when you could lounge around the house. Those are the moments that create a life. We look back and see the bliss.

What value is as of that if you didn’t actively “enjoy” those moments? Think back to the last time you thought to yourself “Wow, I’m having a good time” or “I really enjoy this”. Chances are you’ll remember a few moments but they will be few and far between. We don’t appreciate life at its core, only in the ‘grand’ moments. But life isn’t built on these moments, we don’t have them often enough to call them common.

Life is built on making oatmeal everyday for breakfast, or the long commute to work. It’s built on working in the heat and coming home covered in grease. These are the moments that populate our lives and keep our days filled until we go to bed. They are the first breaths after waking and feeling of exhaustion after a long day’s work.

“Enjoy” is a reminder that we need to take a breath and enjoy the moment. If we don’t take in the world and relax, life will pass us by. We were too busy thinking about our next action, or what could be, that we lose sight what is happening around us. When you’re on the side of the road with a group of cops and a group of drunk friends – “enjoy”. When you’re craving pizza and you finally get a slice – “enjoy”. Don’t question it, if you do, you’ve missed the moment. It all boils down to; “Dude, just enjoy”.

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Last October, before I started blogging daily, I wrote an article about a beautiful dream I’d had. I felt lonely and lost but in this dream I was laying in a giant bed with all the animals who had ever lived with me. Their presence comforted me and the loneliness I’d felt vanished for days after I woke back up. It was as though I never felt isolated.

Painting isn’t my specialty but I felt so compelled to create this image. I wanted to keep that feeling for as long as I could. If you click on the image, it will link you back to that post on EveryoneWanders.

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Though it may seem silly or strange, that feel engulfed me.

To give a bit of a background, this was the first time I was living on my own. Last year in May I was so busy that I couldn’t breath until almost October. I can’t remember a time that I was so stressed and unable to feel. When I finally felt something, it was usually loneliness or depression. This feeling was a resolution to suffering I dealt with for those 4/5 months.

When I originally painted this image, I’d stayed up until 5 in the morning painting. Inexperience drags out the creation process but I was inspired. I don’t think I even looked at the lock until I was done. There was so much focus on the emotion it created within me that I forgot everything else.

Since my last friend left here, I’ve had a similar feeling come back. Instead of feeling all of my animals laying lazily on a bed with me, I’ve felt like all of my friends are walking with me. I feel comforted by this feeling. It’s like everyone is a part of me and I carry that with me wherever I go.

Whenever I feel lonely, I remember this feeling. I think about all of my animals laying beside me or walking down the street with every person I’ve met. I feel the moments where we’ve connected and been together. Suddenly that depression evaporates and I feel connected with the world.

Our anxieties are so much less that we see them in our head. Our loneliness or depression are amplified there and we cannot feel their limits. It’s important to not be afraid of the depths of your feelings. You don’t always know how much of a feeling you can feel. This is where your creativity will stem from: reaching into those depths and pulling them out to show people. Even beautiful things can come out of dark places.

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To live is to suffer

It’s odd how when we suffer, we can gain a lot of insight into our lives. It’s not until everything goes wrong that we see what was going right before. When our car finally breaks down, we notice how well it was running before. We hate our job but we find that we don’t have any other job we like better.

To suffer is a condition of life. We must constantly tear down and rebuild everything around us. If we don’t tear it down, the walls will crumble anyways. The impermanence of everything assures that. By accepting life as a struggle it ceases to be one.

I wrote last night about a lot of the struggles I was going through. My car broke down, my jaw kept me up all night, and a lot more things were at the forefront of my mind. However, I was unconditionally accepting of it all and let it pass by. I accepted the suffering as part of life’s way of challenging me as a person.

When we stagnate, we become ignorant. When we stop all struggling and suffering, we neglect change. We become ignorant of the things around us. By suffering, we embed compassion and understanding in everyone.

This does not mean that to suffer is good. Rather, suffering is part of life and as much as we wish for only growth, we also have to take a few steps back sometimes. To suffer and to mentally reject it, we fall into another self-defeating track. We must realize that although we will suffer through our lives, we will also have great joys and great losses.

To have is also to lose. To have loved is also to have lost. In great happiness, there is also great sadness. As Osho describes, it is like a great tree; happiness grows towards the sky and branches out, while the sadness buries itself into the ground to form roots. The greater the happiness, the greater the sadness. In everything is its opposite.

Once we realize that life will inexplicably move on, we can accept life as it is and the suffering is not as bad. We can help others who suffer and enjoy life in a different way.

Remember, when you’re going through a tough time, it may become worse but it will definitely become better. Life challenges you and sometimes you will feel like you’re peddling backwards, you’ll feel like everything is wrong, but I assure you, your life is moving forwards. When you struggle, you learn how not to struggle, then you struggle with something else (ad infinitum). See the process as part of life and you will relieve a lot of stress.

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The Importance of Is-ness

In the end, everything is. There is no good or bad, there is just is-ness. Often times we fight this to make things different or leave our impression on the world. Ultimately the world just is. It’s not inherently good or inherently bad.

The struggle becomes that everyone wants to leave their version of a better world. Well your better and my better could be completely opposing each other.

We can translate this macro scale down to your personal life. How often do you try to change people? How often do you try to change situations? When we focus so much energy on change we neglect what already is. Accepting what is, is the way to ending conflict and removing the desire to change the world. Take a moment today to appreciate what is, and accept those things that you are unable to change.
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Coming “Home”

Where we are can mean a lot to us because we get attached to each location. Sometimes it’s passive, sometimes we intentionally make a space “ours”. We fall in love with the familiar and learn to judge our happiness based on how far we are from our idea of “home”.

After leaving my dorm for winter vacation I was temporarily relocated just across town. For some reason I was incredibly stressed about both moves; leaving my “home” of two months and then moving back. It seemed like every detail of both moves was a life or death situation and I dreaded each second of it. I attached to each location and couldn’t separate from either. My concept of home had become dynamic but it didn’t prevent the stress of leaving a familiar location.

One of the big things I thought I was going to learn with my job was adaptability. However, I confused the terms “adaptability” and “attachment”. Getting my job didn’t make me any less attached to each location or any of my possessions, it just forced me to become adaptable. Adaptability is the ability to change but adaptability doesn’t make the person accept the change. It just makes them more able to change.

Detachment causes adaptability because you are no longer desiring or anticipating certain outcomes. When you run across a bump in the road, you don’t get angry or upset. Adaptability merely refers to the actions and not the mindset.

When I returned to my old dorm room I opened my closet of possessions and felt happy. Immediately after feeling happy I had the realization that I was incredibly attached to my possessions. My possessions were what was creating my feelings of happiness. My items and familiarity with those items brought me happiness.

This is analogous to a rotten apple. From the outside it may look sweet and desirable but underneath there is just rot. The happiness was created on the surface with these items but underneath there was the fear of becoming separated from them. It was not really happiness, it was just satisfaction of possession. I was happy that I possessed these items again.

Attachment is incredibly difficult to overcome. To become detached, one has to openly embrace and accept the unknown. They must venture that they cannot know what is about to come. They could lose all their possessions or they could win the lottery. There’s a duality there where a person finds peace. You accept that you just don’t know if you’re going to win the lottery or lose it all.

Someone who wants to become detached must first work on the their possessiveness of their possessions. They must realize that everything they own could vanish at any given moment. If they can accept that, then they will have gratitude for everything they have. Whether that be friendships or fancy dinner plates.

For the next week I’m going to focus on removing myself from everything. Not retreat similar to isolation but rather removing my ownership of everything. My friends are not my friends, they are just people who I hang around. The clothing in my closet is just temporary clothing I use to cover my body. My body is not me, I am just an occupant in it. This time is not my time, it is just time passing by. When someone uses a lot of time, they are not using “my time” they are just using time. I cannot get mad at someone for just using time, I can only get mad when they are using “my” time.

It sounds ridiculous to say nothing is ours but none of it is really “ours”. This dorm that I live in is not my home. It is a home – it is a place. I may own it on paper or for the next five months but it is not really mine. It just is. I cannot change it, I can only accept it as what it is. As a place.

Putting expectations on it will only lead to unhappiness. One day I could walk to the door and find that I have been transferred to another location. I could find the room burglarized. The building could collapse and all of the things in the room could be destroyed by a fire. We do not really own anything. The things just are.

When we detach and realize that we own nothing, we come to a realization that we usually cannot control. Many things will just be as they are and we do not have the ability to change them. The things we thought we owned suddenly are shared and are independent of us. When I move rooms, I will not feel sad because I do not associate myself with this room. This room is just a room. It is not my room.

The room is not the memories that I built in it. The room is just a place. Leaving the room does not mean leaving the memories behind. If running shoes in the closet disappeared, I will not be saddened because I am not attached to them. The shoes are just shoes. They temporarily supported my feet and if they disappear, I do not worry. They are not mine, they just are. Having them disappear does not make me any less of a person. I am not less because I own less.

This is a practice that I’m going to focus on this week. I need to detach myself from anticipating the future. I do not own it and I cannot control it. I should just accept it as it comes along. There are no “should-have-been”s, there are just “are”s. The tests are here, the sky is blue, the fruit is rotten. I need to forget that tests are stressful, blue skies mean that it’s probably cold outside, and that rotten fruit is bad. None of this is necessarily true. It is only the adjectives we place on the words that brings us unhappiness. Putting an adjective with them that defines them as “good” or bad”, something we like or something we dislike. Just let the experience be and don’t define or attach to it.

Coming back to the room was an enlightening experience because it made me realize that I was too attached to my things. I anticipated what I would do with them and that I had expectations of them. In this case they made me happy but maybe next time they will be gone. That time I will not become unhappy, I will just accept what is in that moment.

Right now I’m changing how I think about what “home” is. A home is a place and that place for me is this moment. Then it is now this moment. It is always changing and I will always have to accept that. Home is not where I am physically, nor is it where I am mentally. It is when the two cross and I choose to live. I hope that you will also choose to live at those crossroads and remove yourself from “your” possessions.

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Contentment vs. Happiness

It seems that many people’s goal in life is simply to be happy, but being continuously happy isn’t always possible. Life events will surely take bad routes and happiness is not always possible. Happiness, just like sadness, is a life condition. It can be imprinted into yourself but just as you can be imprinted with depression, so can you with happiness. Although this is a fantastic goal and appreciating happiness is never wrong, we should focus more on contentment. Happiness is not always possible, as Eckhart Tolle says in “The Power of Now”, someone may die and there isn’t happiness in that. However there can be contentment. You can be content with what you have and where you are at all times. Your body may be happy at times, it may be sad at others. Contentment is realizing that life can be a roller coaster and there are ups and downs. You may be high, you may be low, but you can always be content with where you are. Tonight, take a moment tonight and appreciate where you are right now. You could be in a nice warm house or in a cold hard-wooded apartment. You could be dealing with a divorce or just getting married. Sometimes life events don’t seem to turn out to be the best but you can choose to accept what is happening and be content with where you are. That is where I am with my life. I’m taking deep breaths in and accepting my life as it is. I am content.

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