“You know that feeling at the end of the day, when the anxiety of that-which-I-must-do falls away and, for maybe the first time that day, you see, with some clarity, the people you love and the ways you have, during that day, slightly ignored them, turned away from them to get back to what you were doing, blurted out some mildly hurtful thing, projected, instead of the deep love you really feel, a surge of defensiveness or self-protection or suspicion? That moment when you think, Oh God, what have I done with this day? And what am I doing with my life? And how must I change to avoid catastrophic end-of-life regrets?
I feel like that now: tired of the Me I’ve always been, tired of making the same mistakes, repetitively stumbling after the same small ego strokes, being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness. At the end of my life, I know I won’t be wishing I’d held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me. So what is stopping me from stepping outside my habitual crap?
My mind, my limited mind.
The story of life is the story of the same basic mind readdressing the same problems in the same already discredited ways. First order of business: Feed the trap. Work the hours to feed the trap. Having fed the trap, s**t, piss, preparing to again feed the trap. Because it is your trap, defend it at all costs.
Because we feel ourselves first and foremost as physical beings, the physical comes to dominate us: Beloved uncles die, parents are displaced, cousins go to war, children suffer misfortune, love becomes a trap. The deeper in you go, the more it hurts to get out. Disaster (sickness, death, loss) is guaranteed and in fact is already en route, and when it comes, it hurts and may even destroy us.
We fight this by making ourselves less vulnerable, mastering the physical, becoming richer, making bigger safety nets, safer cars, better medicines.
But it’s nowhere near enough.”