Chapter 138 Nobody is Gonna Care in One Hundred Years

I had a Trigonometry Teacher Mrs. Bensey who always seemed to be happy and perky back in high school.  When I asked her about her always pleasant demeanor, she told me her secret is to utter to herself almost as a mantra, “Who’s Gonna Care in a Hundred Years”.  Now as an adult, no truer words were spoken.  Think about an argument you had with a co-worker, your neighbor, anyone with whom you had a conflict. 

You may one day go to your car and see a dent.  OMG! you think.  This is a crisis!  But no, it is not.  It does not mean that you simply don’t care at all or that you will put up a sign on your car window “Hit my car please”.  Rather, you will take a breath, relax, and know that the dent in your car, and anything material will be gone, and so will you.  Just ask yourself really why that dent is bothering you so much.  Maybe you are so attached to your car’s beauty and now the dent shows like a series of white hairs on your head.  But in reality, there is no difference before or after your car was dented.  The dent incident will take care of itself.  Either you will choose to fix it and then the problem disappears, or you will choose to not fix it and just ignore it, which is also a possibility.  Regardless, your ownership of the car will change, and the dent problem in your mind will disapper.  Hopefully someone will have left a note.  Either way, nothing in your life has really changed.  Only your perception of how your car ought to look has changed. 

If you are crushed and depressed over the dent in your car, then you are again creating your own sense of misery.  Picture your car ten years from now, when rust and the elements have corroded the metal.  As my teacher told me, picture your car in a hundred years, when it is just a piece of metal rusting in an auto compound.  If you did not fix the dent, you would not even notice it anymore on your car in the background of all the natural corrosion after a few years have passed.

 Take a moment of all the times back in your life when someone broke or someone dented something that you “possessed”.  Now come back to the present.  How many of those things still bother you? Chances are, you forgot about nearly all of them.  But in that past moment, you may have cursed, had your blood pressure rise, your heart rate jump, and your face turn red.  But if you come back to the present, you’d know that it was for nothing.  Because in the present, did it matter that there is a dent in your car, a scratch on your windshield?

Only your attachment with that which is physical is causing you all that grief.  Even for myself, when someone dented my car which at the time was a sports car that looked expensive (and it was!) and I prized the appearance of it, I was crushed that someone would dent it and not leave a note.  But now, I realized that it did not matter at all and that if I cared about a dent in a car, I probably should not have owned a car that I cared if someone dented it.

Soon after, I owned an older Honda Accord with a lot of dents already on it and it accumulated more.  Then I owned an older model Mercury Topaz.  Both did the job of bringing me from point A to point B.  When someone once crashed into the side of it, because I was not attached onto the appearance of it, I merely shrugged my shoulder and then let the man be on his way.  Because I was not attached to appearances, my calmness was not affected, and I remained at peace. 

There was no emergency, no catastrophe, not even an “accident”.  If I was attached even to the appearance of the older “not so pretty” cars, then there would have been an emergency: insurance companies, police, body shop repair estimates, maybe a phone call to a lawyer.  So much hassle is created by your attachment to things.  So choose wisely on what if anything you will become attached to.

The other day, I received a free Apple iPod from a promotion they were having with exchanging older generation iPods.  I was delighted with the technology and the ability to put endless songs on it.  And the iPod about the size of my thumbnail.  And there were no batteries to recharge.  Just a miracle.  I was used to bulky Sony Walkmans that you had to put a tape cassette in it and it would take forever to rewind the songs or fast forward songs to find your favorite one.  And it was large and bulky.  This iPod was tiny, and it was in every way superior.  And you could only put in one song at a time.  And there were batteries to deal with.  But I told myself that if and when I lose this iPod or if it breaks or if it gets stolen, I would not be attached to it. 

It does not mean that I wouldn’t take care to lock it up at the gym, but if something happened to it, I wouldn’t care.  Knowing I did not pay anything for it helps of course, but the key is to understand that I really do not “possess” this item.  It is with me through a promotion and I feel lucky to have it, but just like a flower that I found to be pretty in the garden, I know that it will be gone someday. 

Suppose I did lose it and freak out, then I would be creating my own temporary hell and that means that I would be believing in my own thoughts that there is a crisis when there is none.  Except for your encountering an absolute case of an emergency like your house being on fire with your family inside, 99% of what you are concerned about is not an urgent matter. 

Think of nature and how it builds and creates things on its own natural time frame.  Notice that nature is never in a hurry.  The Grand Canyon was formed one grain of sand at a time and Nature was in no hurry to complete the unbelievable task.  If humans tried to do anything similar, then there would be deadlines, horrible stresses, depression, and all the regular human passions that would be associated with such a task.  Everyone would be in hurry, and there would be tremendous human cost. 

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About youngkim3000

I grew up in Virginia and went to a top tier high school, being so ambitious and wanting fame and fortune like the next kid. I received good grades and then I went off to the University of Chicago where I majored in Psychology and Economics. After a brief but successful "Wall Street" career, I realized that I was not happy and left thinking that a career in the medical field would satisfy me. Then, I did some post Bac work at Northwestern and UIC, and then ended up at UIC Medical School. The problem was I was not happy there either. The structure, the repetition, and lack of being able to be free and spontaneously creative really knocked me down. Having to be subject to constant subjective evaluations sucked my soul dry. As I sought another chapter in my life, then came the financial collapse of 2008-9 which destroyed the "nest egg" and saving that I had worked so hard to build after college--which I so "identified with". I was so depressed at the loss of career and the loss of money that I fell into self pity and a deep seated depression. For weeks on end, I could not even get out of bed. I went to many doctors who could not really help me. I took so much anti-depressant medication and also self medicated with alcohol to dull my mind. One day though, I went to the public library in Niles, IL, and picked up some books on "Self-Help". I figured what do I have to lose? I was already so depressed I could barely get through a day. I picked up books by Wayne Dyer (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), Deepak Chopra, Louis Hay, Ram Dass, Osho, and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), The Dalai Lama, and revisited my faith in Catholicism. I devoured so many books to unearth just why I was suffering so much. I learned so much about myself and realized that my deep suffering was actually a gift for me to discover myself. Simply put, those words in those books saved my life. I was taking so many drugs and my physical health was in serious jeopardy. I realized that I could not live with myself any longer, and I needed to be free. I realized...that it was my own thoughts that were making me so depressed, as was my own "life story" that I replayed over and over. I realized that my mind was busy creating negative thoughts. Thoughts are "things" and expand. I understood that you do not "normally" choose your thoughts. Just like the digestion of a meal, the mind automatically creates all kinds of thoughts whether you like it or not. Just like you do not "choose" to breathe with your lungs or "choose" to make urine from your kidneys, you "normally" do not "choose" your own thoughts. They just happen, just like digestion. And if you had a bad experience, your mind recreates the negative thoughts without your conscious consent but you are forced to relive them endless times per day. It is only through CONSCIOUS INTERVENTION that you can make your mind change course from recycling negative thoughts. This is just like your breathing. You breathe automatically, but you CAN choose to influence your breathing, you can hold your breath if you are going to dive deep in the water, or you can consciously "slow down" your breath if you are relaxing in meditation and prayer. Once I realized I did in fact have an ability to control my thoughts, I consciously redirected the thoughts to positive uplifting notions. I noted that I had built such a large ego that the collapse of it dragged me down in catastrophic fashion. A big ego is different from self esteem. Both were destroyed, but I learned to regain self esteem through positive affirmations and knowing that the negative thoughts are not reality. I was choosing definitively to live in the past via my repetitive thoughts. I was also choosing to live in an uncertain future that I painted with dreadful possibilities. I realized that if I live in the "now", the present moment, I really did not have any reason to be depressed at all. I discovered I really only live in the "now". The past and future are fictions. It is akin to a motorboat on the water on a lake. The "wake" that the boat produces is the past, my vision of the future is what I can see in front of me, but I really only exist ON the boat in the present moment. I was living my life only on the "wake" created many meters before. Soon, my self-pity slowly subsided as I learned to accept "what is" and not grasp for anything and everything that is valued by Society. I concurred that it was my own "expectations" not realized that were causing such waves of discontent. Once I dropped my self imposed sad "life story", my yesterdays, I came to my senses that there was no need to feel upset at all. That realization hit me like "a ton of bricks" and quickly lifted me out of the well, like a rope thrown down the dark walls of the deep well. I would like to share that it was only that single moment of enlightenment, a "satori" event that forever changed my life, but that was not so. It was a gradual climb out of the abyss (over about a year). I realized that my mind was like a superhighway of blazing thoughts that went through my mind over and over based on the recent past. While my "life story" was going great, I believed in those thoughts, and my ego grew such that I became arrogant and sometimes unkind. Then when my "life story" changed for the worse, I similarly believed in those new negative thoughts with the same passion (which hurt me so deeply throughout my waking hours). I noted to myself that this was why I craved so many "tranquilizers" and medicines that would halt my thoughts. I realized that I was drowning in my negative thoughts and that I was CHOOSING to believe in them. But I learned through focusing on positive affirmations, meditation and prayer, I did not need any more drugs to "halt" my mind from stabbing me to death. Through the filter of society's measure I had evaluated my own life, unable to fully realize that it was all a fiction that my mind had created. I was completely unable to live in the present before this profound awakening. My life had turned into a constant "replay" of the past, the anxiety of the uncertain future...and my destroyed ego. Because of my belief that my thoughts were the ultimate truth, I suffered so deeply... but needlessly. Once I changed the direction of my thoughts, everything changed. The way I looked at my own life changed. I realized that LIFE is not a long emergency where the one with the most toys at the end wins. I realized LIFE is something to be lived fully, and joyfully...not some series of problems to be solved. Once I realized these insights, I realized that I was the creation of my own depression. Although a devout Catholic, I am also deeply moved by the ideals of Buddhism. About Karma and "Dependent Arising"...both of which are also in the Bible (Galations 6, Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, a person always reaps what they sow). And I was...for the better part of my life, a runaway train into disaster that I was blind to...that I had planted the seeds onto. Putting money, fame, accolades, trophies, and so forth as the ultimate end to my goals sowed the seeds of psychological calamity when the inevitable tides of change occurs in every life. A person who extols those superficial qualities dooms himself/herself to disaster. The only variable is "time". Would it take a long time to find yourself in a train wreck or a short time? It doesn't matter. What matters is how soon can you realize the truth of existence and your place in it...and rise above what Society tries to focus you to believe. Society always makes you compare yourself to others, Society never leaves you alone to just be yourself. You have to exert effort and unlearn what Society has poisoned you with. I am now doing various "work" (not holding down any soul sucking corporate job), teaching, making money through various income sources like buying items at rummage sales and reselling them through Craigslist, asking neighbors and doing work they need, trading stock options when my financial tools indicate that there is a good trade. I am not focused on any "ladder to climb" or any "prestigious career"...and I am so much happier and at peace. I'd rather be "waterboarded" that go back to Corporate America. I have also a solid equanimity, and i am OK with whatever happens, and thus accept what God and the Universe wish for me. I wish to share my newly found wisdom and hope that my story and my interpretation of my newly found contentment can benefit others and I also wish to hear similar stories of awakening. God Bless, thanks for reading my "profile" and leave me your stories of awakening. Outside somewhere is a field where all of us are the same, I cannot wait to see you there...Namaste...
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