Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breathe In, Breathe Out

We are dying and being born with every breath.

This comes to mind as I sit in Starbucks on a Saturday night, listening to Sexsmith’s latest, and eating nanaimo bars.

I believe I first came across this particular expression in a Buddhist-themed book. And I’m thinking tonight that it contains truth.

Maybe one of the reasons that we get so stressed out in our lives is because we carry around so much baggage from moments that have gone before, instead of letting them die with each breath. We carry around a lot, perhaps because we have come to believe the falsehood that external events and happenings are the key things that form the definition of who we are. For example, perhaps when we are children in school we are told that we’re the ugly one, or the weird kid. Maybe we are labeled the bright one and are consigned to years of expectation that we’ll get good grades and be the good kid and never fail.

Maybe we do damaging things to ourselves – drinking too much, or putting ourselves in unhealthy situations. Instead of forgiving ourselves and moving ahead, we carry them around and think ourselves unworthy of happiness. Maybe we’ve come to believe that we have some deep, irreparable flaw. We carry the past around like a carcass dragging from our rear bumper.

Then there are things, sometimes terrible and painful things, that have been done to us that we had no control over. Unhealthy home situations, deep inner or outer bruising. And we just have a hell of a time moving on, thinking that we are sullied or damaged goods moving forward.

Sometimes we can almost intentionally wave the flag of the victim, for a few reasons. If we maintain the view of ourselves that we are so messed up, people may stay away and we won’t have to be vulnerable again, where we may get hurt.

Sometimes we hold onto awful things from our past because they give us a seemingly valid excuse to not be happy and make progress. This is tempting, because happiness can be hard work. If over the course of your life you have come to steadfastly think poorly of yourself, it can be hard to let the past go and finally embrace the truth of your own wonderfulness.

We do not need to hold onto past moments, which often only result in more stress in our lives.

Each new breath is a fresh opportunity for something good to happen. Each new breath brings a moment in your life that has never been. You can do whatever you want to do in this moment. If it turns out to be pissy, it too will die off and a new moment will be born.