Stop worrying about what others think of you. This life is an adventure, a one-off. This present moment truly is all you have.
You in your present form (that is to say inhabiting your present bag of skin) will exist for between 0 and 100 years. In Spain you can expect on average about 84 years. What exists on either side of that 84 years? There was an eternity before you were born and there will be an eternity afterwards.
Our lives are just a flash of lightning in the eternal cosmic night. The important thing here is not whether we are happy or sad, nor any of the fleeting, ephemeral feelings, emotions and thoughts which arise, exist for a while and disappear.
The important and remarkable aspect is the miraculous, mind-boggling fact that we are here at all; alive, conscious, able to experience and appreciate.
How we spend those years is all that we have; it is all that we will ever be. Everything is negotiable except death and time.
We all will die; we do not know when. Time seeps like water through our fingers, experienced, never to be repeated.
So this is an adventure, a one-off. (Even if reincarnation exists, you have no experience of past or future lives, which means that experientially it changes nothing in this life.) What are you going to do with it, this wonderful miraculous gift?
If you do what most humans do, then you will not go much further than fulfilling your evolutionary goal (to survive and procreate), and to live according to the conditioning you have received to make you a good consumer and a good employee or dedicated to amassing material wealth. You hope to gain the imagined approval and admiration of others. In fact, if you examine your actions, you will realize that most of them are about approval or control.
Whatever path you are on, you have probably chosen it unconsciously. You are the sum of your family upbringing, your class, your education, your religious conditioning, your nationality and your experiences. In other words, you act according to the conditioning imposed mostly by others, pursuing the goals that they have told you are worthy of, behaving in a way that you never consciously chose. You simply adapted in order to survive.
Sometimes, in spite of our indoctrination, at the very fringes of our consciousness, we begin to sense this reality. It can feel uncomfortable. It brings with it uncertainty, and what we all want is certainty (something that is (objectively) impossible to achieve). So the attitude in our society is to immediately distract ourselves from this discomfort (“take something” or “buy something”) with chemicals such as alcohol, cocaine, or with frenetic activity like work, sex – to name a few.
We have been conditioned to live with the perspective of chickens, but we each have the birth-right of the perspective of eagles.
Instead of avoiding our glimpses of this reality, we must wake up and embrace it through the practice of being present in our lives, of gratitude, compassion and impermanence; to constantly remind ourselves of the illusion of separation. We experience ourselves as “Me and the Universe”, as separate from everything. This is a powerful and persistent illusion which is opposite to reality; you are part of everything and everything is part of you. It can never be any other way. It’s just our perception that becomes distorted. When I am truly compassionate towards you, I am also compassionate to myself. I also understand that self-compassion, self-care is not selfish but rather, vital.
Take away the indoctrination, the suffering, the tribalism, and we discover that our natural state is love.
In less than a hundred years you will be forgotten. If you’re lucky, a portrait perhaps on the wall of some descendent you will never meet. All the approval you sought will mean nothing.
We constantly mortgage peace and happiness in the present moment for an abstract idea of peace and happiness in the future. However, this present moment truly is all you have. If you cannot be at peace, be happy in the present moment, then you will never be at peace or happy.
So have the courage to wake up, to feel uncomfortable.
It’s time to take the red pill*.
*Thanks to the movie “Matrix”.