Saturday March 13, 10
The Bearableness of Being Light
The Bearableness of Being Light
Backpacks are heavy... especially when they are overloaded with stuff--most of it worthless junk.
Our lives are burdened... especially when they are bogged down with unrewarding obligations and toxic relationships.
For years I have been complaining about the suffocating effects of having too much stuff and too many soul draining parasitic people in our lives. I couldn't really sell the idea to others. Most people feel safe being grounded by things and people. It makes them feel secure. It makes them feel alive. They reason, "If those things are real than I must be real." e.g. empirical evidence... sort of a twist on the looking glass self concept... "My things tell me who I am, what I am worth." The more one has the more valuable one is. Self concept is dependent on accumulation and possession. You are what you have. You are worthless without commitments, obligations, and objects. Isn't this largely the reason we despise the homeless and label drifters as suffering from arrested development? They are stigmatized for refusing to play the game. It is a western ideology... with capitalism at its core--its driving force. It is almost the exact opposite of Buddhist philosophy which claims that the cause of human suffering is due to our attachments to things and people. Permanence, ownership, even the notion of self are illusions. Only by freeing ourselves from these things can we be enlightened e.g. light.
Air is light. To be up in the air is to be above the burden... free from tethering.
I just saw the film Up in the Air. Although George Clooney doesn't do much for me in photo stills, his striking charisma captured on film is infectious. He nailed the character Ryan Bingham. This movie should have won best picture. The Hurt Locker was a great movie. I loved getting an inside look at how a bomb squad operates in wartime. And I am happy that a female took the Oscars for best picture and best director. But The Hurt Locker just didn't move me or stay with me like Up in the Air has.
The backpack speech alone makes Up in the Air a winner. Maybe it appeals to me because I for the most part agree with it's driving philosophy. It is my truth--just stated much more eloquently than I could ever articulate.
What's in your Backpack?(From Up in the Air) Source
How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you're carrying a backpack.
I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life.
Then you start adding larger stuff.
You go bigger.
Now try to walk. It's kinda hard, isn't it?
Now, I'm gonna set that backpack on fire.
In fact let everything burn and imagine waking up tomorrow with nothing.
This is how I start everyday of my life.
You have a new backpack.
And then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets.
Get them into that backpack.
Feel the straps cutting into your shoulders.
Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically for a lifetime.
The slower we move, the faster we die.
Today my backpack is much lighter than it was just two months ago. My nest has been emptied--except for a cat that still needs me and wants to share my company. All others have moved on. David, my son, has been launched--left the rocket pad. He's embarked on a new journey... a new life as an independent young man. My job to prepare him for this time is finished. It is a success. And my marriage has dissolved. It has run its course. It has nothing left to offer... no new growth, rewards, or moments of joy. It died and was close to pulling me into the grave with it. Am I sad? Lonely? Maybe a little. But it was time for them to go. I had to let them leave. I had to let go.
With my lighter backpack I am now better suited to travel to new places. My borders are wider; my step is lighter. It is now my time.
My future is up in the air. But that is okay. That is how I want it.