7 - Reengaging With the Wider World
There was still a great divide within me. My belief was that the inside world contained the timeless truth while the outside world was only distraction and illusion. I would later, through a rather intense experience, realize that this was not the truth. Suffering has always been a great teacher to me. Some ways of healing are like a really extended version of putting your hand on a stove and taking it off. You are suffering but it may take a while to realize which hand is on which stove. Because as a youth I experienced the outside world as dissonant and incongruous, I believed that peace and truth only existed within myself. That peace was found by closing my eyes and turning my senses inward. Something I would later learn was called meditation. Because of this, I never looked for much from the outside world. All I wanted from it was a place where I can retreat into myself.
It should be no surprise that what happens when you don’t care about the outside world is that your worldly life goes to shit. I had lost a sense of preference. I didn’t know what I liked because I didn’t care about anything. Politics, sports, pop culture, we’re all alien to me. I didn’t feel like I had much to offer the world.
Life has a way of flashing shiny objects in front of the resigned to reengage their interest into the world. This came in the form of a mysterious, playful, and physically lovely woman. I felt thoroughly inadequate to court and win the affection of this woman. I intuitively had a sense of what to do to be “good enough” for her. It involved having some accomplishments in the world and having money in order to provide the necessary food, goods, and possible housing for her. How the heck was I gonna do that? I was working in the kitchen of a yoga center and earning about $200 a week. I’d better get myself together.
Luckily, I was surrounded by wise people who could navigate the naive decisions of the young and in love or in infatuation. One of my yoga teachers gave me some very interesting advice that I took to heart. She told me “forget about the girl and make a list of the things that you liked about her. Then take that list and become each of the things that you liked about her.” The first part was easy and took about 10 minutes. The second part was hard and took about 10 years.