You can’t always get what you want

AltiplanoYou don’t know how many times
I wished that I could mold you into someone who could cherish me
as much as I cherish you.

Wow, that’s so wrong on so many levels. Cherishing is actually a really nice concept, as long as it’s true and not bound up with self-cherishing, “loving” someone for what you will get out of it. I think the guy in that song is a little fucked up. Come to think of it, he admits he’s lost his mind, counting letters and the like… Dude, she’s just not into you, all right?

While I was away, I started reading Eight Steps to Happiness, a Buddhist guide to training the mind to achieve happiness for ourselves and all those around us. It was the perfect thing to be reading on long bus rides across the Altiplano of southern Peru, happy.

It really is all in your mind. The first step to happiness, the story goes, is to abandon self-cherishing, that kind of grasping that can only lead to misery. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I had told you | You don’t know how many times I’ve wished that I could hold you… and so on. Face it, that guy is miserable. I can relate.

How much time do we spend trying to make our lives perfect? Trying to control events that are uncontrollable? Caring what we achieve or what we own or how we look? Clinging to or trying to change others? Hoping for the future and worrying about the past rather than living in the present? Wondering how the world will remember us when we’re gone?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve indulged in all of the above…some just a little (caring about what I own), and some in an embarrassingly big way (try to guess). So this concept of self-cherishing was a real eye-opener: refreshing, but in that sort of shocking way like having a big bucket of ice water thrown on me.

And the idea of abandoning it was scary as hell. What if I’m not really the center of the universe‽ Mein gott!

We are all — the 7 biRolling Stones: Let it Bleedllion of us sharing this planet — trying to be happy, which is to say, trying to live a life free of suffering. Each of us is just as important as every other person, and we are dependent on each other. Nobody achieves anything in this life on their own, from the moment we are conceived to the time we die. Think about it.

While it runs pretty much counter to a lot of self-help philosophy, it really is true — for me, anyhow — that I am happier when I stop thinking I’m so damn special and deserve to have a wonderful, carefree life all of the time. Honestly, can you think of a better recipe for frustration?

Try it on, just for a little while, and see what I mean. Care less about yourself and more about everyone else you come across in a normal day, and notice how it makes you feel. It can be scary or uncomfortable at first to give yourself up in that sort of way, but it can also be very liberating. See if you don’t feel a lot more at peace at the end of the day.

That doesn’t mean giving up things you like doing, from the fun little hobbies to the big life goals and ambitions; and it doesn’t mean letting people run roughshod over you. You are not a doormat. It just means taking yourself a little less seriously, having some patience and flexibility, caring less when things go off course, as they surely will. Don’t beat yourself up over the unsweatworthy small stuff, and don’t throw away your moral compass or stomp on others to get what you want in life, or what you think you need.

"Cherish" by David CassidyBe kind to others, but still be kind to yourself. Cherish, but in the right way. There’s no need to abandon self-esteem, which really is a valuable concept, after all, within reason. I repeat, within reason. Don’t stop caring about you, don’t let yourself go. Stay pretty, but keep it real. Smile a lot.

By all means, do what you need to do to keep yourself alive and healthy for a good long time, physically and mentally. If you don’t, your contribution to the world could be diminished…and that would be a real shame.


3 thoughts on “You can’t always get what you want

  1. Pingback: Feelin’ stronger every day | I can't believe Dave X Robb doesn't have a blog

  2. Pingback: 2012 lessons | I can't believe Dave X Robb doesn't have a blog

  3. Pingback: Rejoice! | I can't believe Dave X Robb doesn't have a blog

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