Dying Daily #24: Unnecessary Suffering

It is a difficult thing to open your eyes at 22 and realize you are a complete loser.

I just involuntarily heard that in Trump’s voice.

I was a loser. Very, very, very lame.

No energy.

A lot of people told me I was really not a winner. I don’t remember who, but they told me.

For about two years after 9/11 I was obsessed with the news.

The planes hitting the towers was a catalyst for me as I realized I didn’t know anything about the world, and I decided I had to know everything. I remember getting up early to watch the news, going to class and then coming home to watch 4-5 more hours of it. I had it on all the time. Eventually 9/11 stopped dominating the cycle completely, so I even learned about some other stuff going on in the world.

I really enjoyed it at first. I think that, with living in Lubbock without very many friends and only having school to focus on, being a news junkie gave me a sense of purpose. It made me feel like I was progressing or evolving as a person. It gave me meaning. And, like most losers, I craved knowing more about things than other people, so it gave me that too.

I am sure I was a joy to discuss current events with.

But, apart from being sooooo well informed and knowledgeable, something else happened. I started getting depressed and dealing with anxiety all the time. I knew all about snipers shooting people on the highway and Elizabeth Smart and the Tamil Tigers and Iraq descending into chaos, and I was miserable.

If you’ve read this blog much, you know that I encourage myself and others to face the things that bring us suffering, to lean in to the things that scare us and cause us anxiety, but I am not a masochist.

I don’t encourage many people to seek out suffering, there is plenty coming your way. You don’t need to manufacture it in your life.

Plus, why suffer needlessly over things that you cannot control?

So, I turned off the news, and things got better.

This was probably the birth of mindfulness in my life. The understanding that the present is not only all we have, but all we need took root here.

I am still informed.

I am aware of Brexit and Duterte and Venezuela falling apart and Kim getting robbed and email servers and grabbing people by the…you get it. I know enough to not be someone who sticks their head in the sand. For the first time ever, I am going to vote in the presidential election.

I am not avoiding reality, but I see no reason to soak myself in things that I have no control over.

I try to keep my attention on the things I can have an impact on. I focus on my reactions to things, my family, and the people who do come to me for help. One of the primary reasons I work to make more money is because I would like to have more to give away. It’s not about ignoring reality, but about making sure I keep my resources available to direct them to things that I can actually affect instead of burning all of them on things that are way above my pay grade.

What we focus on matters. It creates our inner life, which is all we have.

Where are you putting your resources?