The Art of Letting Go….

Today, as I sat at my computer answering e-mail and worrying about the election, a lovely person in Japan sent me this photo….

(The Great Buddha in Kamakura, reading my book.)

Seeing this picture made me realize that somewhere along the line, I have lost my way.

I used to be very Buddhist in my thinking. Well… perhaps not *very* Buddhist. But somewhat Buddhist, especially for a westerner. My philosophical beliefs are an eclectic hodgepodge at best, but there’s some good stuff in Buddhism. Stuff that makes a lot of sense.

One of the foundation stones of Buddhist philosophy is especially appealing to me. Namely, that desire leads to suffering.

For example: You see a kid at the grocery store. He wants a candy bar. His mom says no. Result? Suffering. He pitches a fit. Similarly, when I was in my early twenties, I spent a long time desiring various types of romance, and because none was forthcoming, suffering ensued. Much suffering.

It’s simple. The more things you desire, the greater your potential for suffering. It’s basic math. And when you stop to think about it, the solution is obvious. If you want less suffering in your life, you simply have to reduce your desires. You need to let go of things.

This particular truth fits in well with other parts of my personal philosophy: my love for simplicity, my appreciation for the cynicism of Diogenes, and my basic bumish laziness.

I used to be good at letting go. I kept my life simple and had few desires. That was what made it possible for me to work on my book for more than a decade without wanting to kill myself. I told myself the truth: that it would probably never be published. I did my best to avoid that desire (sometimes with only moderate success) and therefore saved myself a lot of disappointment over a great many years.

But lately, I’ve fallen from that path. I worry endlessly about all manner of things. I feel responsible for so much. I want to make sure book two is really good. I want to to be pleasing for my fans and successful for my publisher. I want to lose some weight. I want my country to get back on track, to take care of its citizens and stop shitting on the rest of the world. I want, I want, I want….

And for a year now, I’ve been wondering why, for the most part, I’m not really happy. It sounds really horrible to say, but it’s true. By the numbers, I’m way ahead of the game. But emotionally….

Here’s the deal. It’s one thing to be unhappy when your dog gets hit by a car and your house burns down. You should be unhappy then. Everyone can understand that. That’s a sensible response to your situation.

But when your book gets published, becomes a bestseller, and gets translated into a billion languages you’re supposed to feel good. You’re supposed to feel super-amazing-good. But a lot of times I don’t. That’s not sensible. I don’t understand it, and it frustrates me. Not only that, but it seems downright perverse at times. Then on top of it all, I feel like a real shit for not constantly feeling like the universe is giving me a hummer.

So why, I constantly ask myself, was I so perfectly content as a poor teacher with an unpublished book and 20,000 dollars of credit card debt? Now I own a goddamn riding lawnmower, and I worry about my lawn. For over a year now I’ve had a solid knot of tension nestled between my shoulderblades like a lump of hot lead. I worry about the next translation of my book. I worry about my carbon footprint. I worry that in writing this blog, I’m going to come off as an utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey.

But writing about it helps. That’s what I do, you see. I write about things. That’s my deal.

People who don’t write usually assume that writing is a process of communication. They think I have something in my head, and I’m just transcribing it onto the page.

But that really isn’t the truth. Writing is a process of discovery. I think about things, but then when I start to write about them, I learn things while I write. I figure things out *because* I write. This happens in poems. In those silly satire columns I write, in the novel, and today, it’s been happening here in the blog.

Right now in fact. I think I’ve finally put my finger on something important. Desire. I have been too much with the world lately, getting and spending. I think I need to start letting go.

I realize that might sound ominous, but it isn’t. I feel good. Better than I have in months. Letting go shouldn’t be seen as giving up, either. In Buddhist philosophy, once the problem of suffering is realized, there is still right thought and right action.

So now I’m going to go vote, largely without desire. It feels good letting go of that. Later I will work on the book without desire.

In between those two, I think I will go the Kebab House for lunch. Sometimes they serve a great soup called “Fire and Rice.” That, I think, I will desire just a little. Because it is really good soup, and no matter what else I might be, I’m still only human.

Later everyone,

pat

This entry was posted in Diogenes, foreign happenings, hodgelanyBy Pat61 Responses

61 Comments

  1. King Sheep
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    “Let your mind go and your body will follow.” I hope a little Tuesday morning Shakespeare brings you comfort and joy.

  2. AndrewB
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:10 PM | Permalink

    I sometimes check your blog, but never comment. Not this time. The art of letting go…one of the best things anyone can do for themselves. Especially if you have anxiety, like me. And you didn’t come across as an emotitmonkey, just another human being trying to figure out the best way to find peace contentment and happiness. Thanks for sharing.Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about book two. If you didn’t worry before, don’t start now. Seriously, though, let go the book so we can all read it soon.

  3. Jana
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:16 PM | Permalink

    “Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

  4. pdxtrent
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    Frothing self absorbed titmonkey. Really, I just wanted to say that. Awesomeness! I like your thinking, I like your philosophy… and of course, I love the book. So let it go, and enjoy.Word verification is talyin. This has to do with the overemphasis on the yin to the detriment of the soul. Remember yang.

  5. Fae
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:37 PM | Permalink

    This post was a good reminder for everyone.

  6. Danny Rattray
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    It isn’t until we let go of what we’re worrying about that we see how wonderfully hilarious our problems can sometimes be.Thanks for reminding me about that, Pat.

  7. TC BigPants
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for this post, Pat.I am in a similar situation. I feel like I have done everything right to get where I want to be and for two years now I have done nothing but bang my head against a brick-wall (metaphorically.) It sometimes feels like the universe is against me. Stopping me from grasping what I have been chasing for years — just as it is within my reach. I have sacrificed so much…and I AM the one in $20k of debt from it. I know the universe isn’t against me not, but it feels like that.You reminded me though…I need to step back. Breath a bit.Sometimes though the letting go is very hard in itself. Like letting go away your security blanket…if I am not fretting about my situation then what will I do? And what if the letting go doesn’t work?Either way — A healthy reminder. Thank you for that. Best to everyone here.

  8. Ken Harris
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 7:55 PM | Permalink

    Frothing self-absorbed Emo Titmonkey – describes my interaction with the election to a t…

  9. Jessica
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I know self-absorbed emo titmonkey. You are no self-absorbed emo titmonkey.Thanks for this post, it’s what I needed today. Maybe next year will be a happier one? Oops there’s that desire again….

  10. greg
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:19 PM | Permalink

    oom mane padme humor something like that. i am definitely in the same general mind with regard to life as you espouse here. best of luck in recentering yourself yet still getting the things you want to take care of done

  11. Sailor Matt
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    Your words have gotten me a’ ponderin’, Pat. For quite a while now, I’ve been living for a specific day to arrive. Now that it’s nearly here, I have to ask myself “Now what?” I hadn’t really thought much past that point.Your reflections on desire and fulfillment have given me a bit to think about :)word verification: apotearm (uh-pot-ee-arm). It’s what we call a toilet flusher lever in Michigan.

  12. Danna
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    I hope you feel better, Pat.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    You’ve just made me smile Pat – sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that need pointing out… as people get dragged down in the mundane and routine. I’m going to copy and paste this post now as a little reminder

  14. AzrofD
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    I suggest the Bhagavad Gita, as well as “The Power of Now.” – Also eastern in orientation, some of the most powerful practices come with every day logic: You cannot be that which you observe.You can observe your body. It is not you. You can observe your thoughts, they are not you. You can observe your emotional states, they too are not you. Recognize that and relief is almost instantaneous. What or who <> you <> are is the observer; without desire, without thought, without an overweight body. Rather than removing the ability this function, this illumination enhances focus and clarity. You will begin to see the play of thoughts – the Ego and Mind – that influence your emotions. Don’t just let go of desire Pat. Let go of Thought except as a tool. Because they are not you. Nor is your depression.

  15. Sailor Matt
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

    There is no spoon.

  16. Plucky
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

    It isn’t desire that causes suffering but expectations of pleasure. Feel free to desire , it can bring man to great things but getting what you want is no path to happiness.It is the Journey, not the destination.pat- You can’t sound emo talking about Buddhism. And I don’t know what a titmonkey is.King Sheep- Nice quoteandrewb- You were doing so well and then..desire loljana- I want a t-shirt!

  17. Rachel
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    Beautiful post, thank you.

  18. Christy
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    I was frantically obsessing about an incoming genetics test when I wandered over to your blog. Not only did it make me laugh in parts, it allowed me to put my day in a new perspective which made it a whole lot better then it was previously. Thanks for that.

  19. Captain Joe
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    Soup is a lofty desire, Pat, and more human than most.

  20. Le Mari
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    I hear ya…actually, this reminded me of a video made by the son of a particular Tibetan Buddhist Lama (named Chogyam Trungpa, his son is Sakyong Mipham, if I spelled that correctly). It’s really inspiring, at least I thought it was. Here’s a link if you’re interested. We have reading from some of his books in my Buddhist Psychology class (at Naropa University), which is where I heard about it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDSAAlrqAHM-Mari

  21. Pat
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

    They didn’t have the soup I wanted, but the soup they had was pretty good.

  22. Alexis
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:43 PM | Permalink

    I am of two minds about this. I myself try to fight the “wish I had a perfect house/lawn/job” kind of desires- that come from some vague idea I should have them. But there’s also the ‘having a thing is not so pleasing a thing as wanting’ approach (thank you Mr. Spock) and I know how that can be true too.With THINGS I am very good about allocating my time/concern/money. I made a decision a long time ago to say fuck it to new furniture, new clothes, and a nicer apartment (none of which would really make me all that happy) and instead to let myself splurge on books, musicals, games, and visiting friends even though it means I will never keep up with the Jones’.I haven’t figured out how it works with ambitions. Wanting book two to be good, wanting to be successful, wanting to lose weight, wanting the best for the country… these are admirable goals. Personally, I want to do great things, inspire others as people have inspired me. I consider that a part of me. In the past this motivated me through my studies, got me a job at NASA and generated a lot of pride and happiness. But wanting to be more than you are is intrinsically disquieting and somewhere in the last couple of years I went from wanting to eventually be this better person (which was motivating and not unhappy), to frustration that I wasn’t already. How do you go back? I don’t particularly respect people who don’t strive toward their goals, so I don’t know if I want to let go completely. Perhaps if I just wanted to take action and tried to forget WANTING the natural result? Perhaps that way I could return to the place where the journey, rather than the focus on the result, was what mattered…. I am not sure it will work but I’m going to go try that now.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    There is a little of your mom in here! Makes me cry…in a good way!

  24. Captain Joe
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    <>Pat said: They didn’t have the soup I wanted, but the soup they had was pretty good.<>Such is soup.Who would not give all else for twoPennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

  25. Laura
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    [soapbox]It’s about reality and perspective. There are things which really do matter, a lot. They SHOULD matter, and we should think on them often. This is stuff like souls, and relationships, and historical or eternal ramifications.Then there’s stuff that still merits some thought, like whether or not I’m able to keep my small business open in this economy, but that still pales beside stuff of greater importance.Stuff like overgrown grass and fashion and ZOMG, am I voting for the same guy my buddy is supporting, that stuff doesn’t even rate in the big picture.Post-modernism’s biggest mistake is pretending there is no REAL reality. That means all that pathetic little stuff can assume false importance. The tyranny of the urgent, and all that. But when we see reality, we also see real perspective.[/soapbox]

  26. Jessica
    Posted November 4, 2008 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    You were the one who introduced me to Heinlein, so this is only fitting:“Give the future enough thought to be ready for it–but don’t worry about it. Live each day as if you were to die next sunrise. Then face each sunrise as a fresh creation and live for it, joyously. And never think about the past. No regrets, ever.”I wish you peace and strength in your journey.

  27. Robbie Capps
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 12:34 AM | Permalink

    I’m really glad you decided to write something along the lines of “don’t worry, be happy.” I’ve got a lot on my plate right now (the election is taking over all of my thought as well) and I don’t usually “worry” either. Until now, I never really recognized that as Buddhist philosophy, so thanks for that as well. P.S. I’ll probably be discussing this with Mr. Medlin (or, as you probably know him, Jeremy: Your Biggest Fan) come tomorrow. He’s my AP Chemistry teacher… which is a large part of my “worrying” right now (the class itself of course, not him as a teacher).

  28. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 1:15 AM | Permalink

    Wonderful

  29. Jon
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 1:52 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for this, PR. I try to live by the “want nothing and you’ll have everything” mentality but have also fallen from the path the last couple years, and this was a welcome and serendipitous reminder for me. Ah, the examined life….Namaste

  30. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    Ahh… Your focus has shifted…Happy as a poor teacher… Why wouldn’t you be? You were doing something you enjoyed and took pleasure from. You could write whenever the feeling took you and had little pressure. Sure, a few deadlines for the column, lesson plans, paper grading, etc, but that’s the small stuff.Suddenly, your book was published. The critics raving, the fans amassing, things start to snowball… Now you have to deal with PR, interviews, travel, fan email, etc. Sure, you have a few perks but you also have the pressure, the stress…My point is, before you were only trying to please yourself and doing a fine job of it. Now, you’re trying to please your publisher, your fans, and to make a good impression to those you may meet. You’re in the “public eye” and worry about what others may see.I don’t envy you. It’s a lot to adjust to and can change your view of self. I hope you can re-focus and stay true to who you are.I suppose you could call these “growing pains”…Shadow(for some reason it won’t allow me to post my livejournal ID…)

  31. Caleb
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 3:14 AM | Permalink

    Good for you, Pat!I think that many people feel the same way as you do. In fact, I think that many people in America are beginning to reject the idea of happiness as it is related to your desires and possessions, etc.Writing has always been wonderfully cathartic for myself. Working these things out and making these admissions in front of people here is another exercise in introspection that can help you along whatever path you may decide to take.

  32. Incubus Jax
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    Pat,I totally pissed of my professor last year when we studied Buddhism. She posed a question to us that basically said “Because Buddhists seek to end suffering, some Buddhists view genocide as okay because it’s a means to end suffering. Discuss.”Well, the discussion (on an online board) started to get out of hand, to the point where people started talking about genocide being a good thing.I thought this was retarded (in a cute non-offensive ‘tard kind of way) so I popped on and said this:“Well, let me point out tho obvious here. If what you are all saying is true, than it’s too bad we based our country on Christianity. We should have been Buddhists. If we were, we could have nuked ‘Jersey YEARS ago and taken care of a lot of problems then.”That caused a proverbial <>shit storm<>. Apparently, I had somehow failed to notice my professor was from New Jersey.Lucky for me, the Dean of my school thought it was funny. I guess Kothe and I have that going for us.Relax. It’s just sex. Or whatever.

  33. Chris
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 4:13 AM | Permalink

    Spoken like a true writer. I know people say this for a lot of things, but if more people thought like that, the world would be much better than it is now. I’m kinda going through a rough spot in life and that blog really helped put things in perspective, so thank you.

  34. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

    I see how you might label desire as the culprit here, but I don’t see it so. When you desired the soup, was that a bad thing? No, I don’t see how. It was something you wanted, you took action, and you were probably at least somewhat excited about the prospect of doing so. In this respect I think the feeling associated with that desire is what’s important, because in truth our feelings are the only thing of importance. Feelings are what we are made of. They are why you have made this decision to let go.As for your other desires, you said it yourself, you have been feeling anxiety about working towards them all this time. Constant anxiety is good for no one, and the more time we spend with it, the less time we have with joy and happiness (sure, we can feel anxiety over our happiness, but I don’t see how the two can exist together at the same moment). Your own situation shows this. But I think it’s important to question why you have the anxiety in the first place. You want your next book to be good . . . why? You say you want it to be pleasing for your fans, and I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing. It ensures that you put your heart into the book, you make it the best it can be. And why do you care…well probably because of a life full of experiences that I couldn’t guess at. I guess what I’m trying to say is that although your desires bring you anxiety, the original desires are rooted in positive feelings and experiences . . . so get back to understanding those, and maybe it’ll ease the tension, bring back a little perspective? Perhaps it is a good idea to let go a bit, since that will bring down the anxiety, but please don’t stop caring (isn’t caring a form of desire?), because that’s the moment life becomes meaningless.I don’t meant to come off as knowing what is best for you. I’m a firm believer that the greatest way to achieve a joyous life is to experience it first hand and decide what’s best for yourself, so what works for one person might not work for another. But in a way desire is not a feeling, but rather the result of experiencing feelings (you had a positive reaction to the soup so now you want more…), and so I feel that it is neither good or bad. The feelings are what matter!

  35. Brad
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    My lawn looks like shit. It has all summer. I don’t like to mow it. If I had a riding mower I’d combine beer and mowing, and then my desire would fade into drunken contentment…oh well, I guess I’ll just settle for beer without mowing. I will also enjoy my excitement for the election results and I hope your spirits are also lifted by hope for America’s future and the cessation of shitting on others.

  36. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 9:32 AM | Permalink

    Put your worries in a box, let them float down the river.

  37. marky
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Desire, now there’s a thing. Although you’re correct that desire leads to bad things on occasion, in my opinion it sometimes breaths passion into projects that benefits mankind. Without the desire to finish a job would Michelangelo have finished the Sistine chapel? Would Olympians simply not bother because it’s wrong to desire a gold medal? For me, it’s about a happy balance in life. Desire is always going to be a part of human nature; it’s how we deal with these desires as individuals that make us the man/woman we become. Anyway, Happy Guy Fox day! Marky

  38. P.S.
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 10:36 AM | Permalink

    One of my favorite quotes…“Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the nobler art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” -Lin YutangAnd I have contemplated on the importance or significants of “Wanting”… Everything Wants… wind Wants to blow, grass Wants to grow, water Wants to flow…etc…oh, and i Want Cheetos

  39. Maria Stahl
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Free psychoanalysis, worth every penny you paid for it:Pat, you just lost your mother. I think you’re still in mourning. It takes a long time. You expect a great deal of yourself!Letting go is helpful. So is just plain giving stuff away. For me, cleaning out a closet helps: I try to get rid of a bunch of stuff that encumbers me and it clears my head. Just some ideas. Be patient with yourself.Word verification: combelog. It’s a special blog template for hair stylists.

  40. Kalligenia
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for being real.

  41. Sailor Matt
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 1:20 PM | Permalink

    Although the concept of eliminating desire to eliminate pain sounds fundamentally flawed to me, I’ve fallen victim to drawing conclusions on a centuries-old philosophy after only the slightest glimpse of the thinnest layer.Regardless, I can’t help but be moved by the following:“They didn’t have the soup I wanted, but the soup they had was pretty good.”I feel that a certain amount of philosophical truth exists within these words.

  42. tamsparks
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 3:08 PM | Permalink

    All you have to do when the stress gets you down is read the comments on your blog…seems to me like you’ve got some wonderful, thoughtful fans here. Who wouldn’t be cheered by that?Life is just too complicated. I say pop in a Buffy DVD and forget about everything else.

  43. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    It’s not the big things that make you happy, altough they are helpfull, it’s the small things.Like reading your book…!

  44. LiquidWeird
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 6:31 PM | Permalink

    Isn’t wanting to end suffering a desire in itself, so trying to get rid of desire is in itself fulfilling a desire?For me, I’ll take a little suffering if it means that some of my desires are fulfilled. It just means assessing the suffering/happiness ratio and adjusting accordingly. There is happiness in fulfilling a worthy desire, after all, and to eliminate that desire it to eliminate the happiness potential in fulfilling it. Sometimes its worth it. Sounds to me like it’s not right now.My downfall is stuff. Cool stuff. I have nine lightsabers (the flashy noisy kind that go swoosh and make noise when you hit them) and those MasterPiece edition Transformer Optimus Prime and Megatron toys that are nifty and cool. It’s more about the ability to get them than it is having them, and it’s wasteful and I know it. Having that money in the bank right now would give me a better quality of life than the toys do. They sit there. The money would give me a feeling of greater security and accomplishment, but I still keep buying stuff just to be doing it.Playing World of Warcraft is the same thing. Worthless desires fulfilled or unfulfilled. Keeps you coming back to get that epic flying mount, or that tier 7 armor, or that rare recipe or vanity pet. Just to have it. It’s illegal to sell the stuff for real world money. It has no true value outside the game. Its value is only in the fun of acquiring it. I still play it most days though.Blah blah blah, yackity shmackity, ramble ramble ramble. Meh.ok done.Today’s word is kunang. Kunang is a Mongol warlord who swept across the plains of ancient China in search of kung pao chicken. He was defeated at last by General Tso.

  45. Pat
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 6:43 PM | Permalink

    Yeah. How can you give up desire if you desire to give it up? It’s one of the major diffculties in Buddhism. It leads, among other things to the concept of “striving without striving.” So much of real Buddhism is interesting to me because it challenges many of the fundamental assumptions of western society. It’s good for your brain, keeps it limber…

  46. ripshin
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    Pat,I fully applaud your desire to reduce your desire…I fear, though, that as you struggle to reduce your desire, your desire for this unattainable goal will lead to suffering…So, maybe it’s not desire that’s the problem, maybe it’s really a lack of contentment for not getting what you desire…By the way, although I can’t offer much to help you, I believe I can offer the most meaningful thing of all…an address to where you can send all that stuff you’re desiring to get rid of. I know it’s much, but it’s the best I can do.Word verification is “canho”. Although it’s not polite to talk about in most cultures, there are places that have developed complex methods for preserving (canning) a means to satisfy one of man’s most basic desires.

  47. Ursula
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat!It sounds perfectly understandable to me – not only that desire tends to make us unhappy, achieving goals can also be a source of massive disappointment. It might not be the formula for eternal happiness, but it could help to overcome your discomfort for a while: get yourself a really good book you can look forward to.reading before going to sleep. I just did, and knowing that it is there beside my bed, waiting for me to grab it and go on reading really keeps me happy. It‘s exciting, it‘s brilliantly written and it has one of those built-in dark-red ribbon bookmarks. High quality, in every way. Just wanted to say thanks.Best wishes from AustriaUrsula

  48. Fe2O3
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 10:24 PM | Permalink

    I’m jumping in a bit late to the comments here because I was working as a poll-worker in the election all day yesterday.Pat, it isn’t the desire that brings suffering, it is how we deal with the un-met expectations. Your soup experience is a good example. You set the expectation but were also able to temper that expectation with another possible outcome. You didn’t leave the restaurant in a fit of rage when they didn’t have the soup and were able to experience another good soup. Maybe not as good as what you wanted, but not a negative experience.Self-absorbed, frothing, emo, titmonkey can be OK to visit on occasion. (not that you did, or anything) In 2002, I lost a child and my job within a month. My wife, who is a writer, began to write some very deep, emotional, scary, not-for-public-consumption, letters. It served as a catharsis for her at the time. Today, it unnerves her to read what she wrote during that time but she feels it was a necessary process to deal with her unmet expectations.I, being merely a fan-follower, could make a large list of unexpected things that have happened to you over the last year or two. I doubt you’ve revealed everything to your “adoring public” as well. For good or bad, the unexpected is just that, and it is always the hardest to deal with.Take care, eat soup, love those close to you with a passion, froth like an emo titmonkey when needed, and keep reading your fan comments (both public and private) because you’ve let us into your lif a bit and you’re OUR frothing, emo, titmonkey now.

  49. logankstewart
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

    Well said, fe2o3. Well said, indeed.

  50. Anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2008 at 11:51 PM | Permalink

    thanks for your insight. me as well I am a worrier person & i know the hard part is letting go.. but as what you said; I will try to let go slowly until peace comes to me[i hope not the six feet under;)]

  51. Kate Willoughby
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 1:09 AM | Permalink

    I recommend the book Happiness Is A Serious Problem, by Dennis Prager. :)

  52. mandiniii
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    I also agree there is a good amount of truth to that thought. However, I think Buddha’s solution to simply let go is often not enough. I don’t think any of us can ‘let go’ and find peace completely on our own. In contrast, Christ promises us that when we pray He will help us deal with our sufferings. Not that our troubles will necessarily be taken away, but at least He will help us find that inner peace we need to make it through. Buddha leaves us on our own to find relief, but Christ promises us relief and to share our sufferings with us. That to me is real comfort.

  53. rebecca
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    A similar sentiment from Fight Club (the movie):“Let that which does not matter, truly slide.”

  54. word fencer
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 5:36 PM | Permalink

    A couple of years ago, I won a writing contest. The prize was $50. I’d been obsessing over the ratings the entire month. When I won, I was excited. Then I cried unhappy tears. I got so depressed I could barely get my butt off the couch. It took me almost another month to get happy again. I don’t know what my deal was but your post reminded me of that time.

  55. Anonymous
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

    Hey Pat. Have a glass of you favorite beer. If you desire…Repeat!

  56. Dudley Dawson
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    “Don’t just let go of desire Pat. Let go of Thought except as a tool. Because they are not you. Nor is your depression.”At the risk of sounding trollish, what a load of sh*t this is. Only someone that’s deeply ignorant of depression could make such a careless statement. Instant relief, my ass. I enjoy reading Buddhist philosophy, and I think a lot of it is really great and can be applied successfully to life; but good god, man. Get a grip. I’m all about letting go of desire and being unfettered, but if we’re going to start letting go of thought “except as a tool” then we might as well be otters. Not that otters don’t look happy, but I’d rather not spend my days looking adorable while cracking open clam-shells. Thought, pain and happiness are part of being a human. If any religion is selling b*llshit that says otherwise, I’m not buying it.

  57. baldsilver
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 6:58 AM | Permalink

    u are one interesting dude

  58. Kip, advice-man
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    Here is my remedy when i feel like you do:Drink a litre bottle of Backberry merlot, and watch Fight Club.Basicly Pat what it boils down to is this:Back when you were the teacher with debt, you knew where your limits lay. You had a smaller and simpler world, You were able to take care of what was in your sphere of control, and know you did your best, damned with the rest.Now, your sphere of control has grown and is continuing to grow. first, you havn’t had much time to adjust. Second, You have “faces” to put to your anxiety about the second book, you have met the fans and talked to all of us for a long time. most likely you feel some pressure in the back of your mind telling you that we want this second book, and you don’t want to disappoint us. One of my reasons for believing this is how often you make references to writing your second book, assuring us that you are working on it.Pat, honestly, You are a great writer and a wonderful person. I would much rather wait another year to read the next book if it keeps you from having a breakdown.

  59. Daniel
    Posted November 7, 2008 at 10:58 PM | Permalink

    I’m not sure about many things in this here world, but it’s this one thing, your second book, the sequel, which I have a really good gut feeling about. And my gut is always right! So you see Pat, you need not worry whether your next book will be good or not because it will! My gut says so! Now, go to your sofa, grab a beer, watch some soap on tv and feel RELIEVED!Greetings from snowy Norway^^-Daniel.

  60. Anonymous
    Posted November 8, 2008 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    Pull it together pat you utterly self-absorbed frothing emo titmonkey :)I hope letting go makes ye happy pat and I hope your soup desire is well rewarded.

  61. Anonymous
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 5:57 PM | Permalink

    I feel the same. My life is fantastic and yet most of the time I feel frustrated and worried and really low. I too am a writer (as yet unpublished) and perhaps what we feel is due to having a tortured artist’s soul (according to some friends who labelled me so). If people let go of desire then they can achieve nothing because they will have no drive to carry on towards what they want. If it leads to suffering then it is only natural, but it is during periods of suffering that most is learnt about the important things in life.

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