Our attachment to attachment never ceases to baffle me. And the closest I ever got to being a Buddhist was the time I was overcome with compassion and actually put a spider outside rather than squash it to smithereens with a war cry. I am staring at a client who is explaining that the bane of their ability to stay healthy this fall (or focused on whatever issue we’re trying to nutritionally resolve) is the return of pumpkin spice everything. I would have laughed, but it was like the third person that day to say it. I get this from children all the time after delivering scientific proof that they are allergic to mac n’ cheese. If they can’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches anymore, they will surely starve to death.
The most significant struggle I see people have in creating healthy changes in their lives is straight up resistance to change. We are so attached to the things that sabotage us, committed to our ways, that we cannot even open our minds to the possibility of a world (albeit likely an improved one) without that thing. For the love of God, what would we do if we had to pass up an entire season of syrupy-flavored holiday lattes? Because apparently it is always that one thing that gives great purpose and meaning to life. Admittedly, I feel this way about coffee and sex, but not much else really.
I see so many of us try to replace the thing with a different version of the thing. A thing that somehow will wean us like needy babies from our old self to a new and brighter self. One whose life is given meaning by sugar- and dairy-free decaf pumpkin spice lattes. “I made a sunbutter and homemade jelly sandwich on gluten-free dust cakes,” someone will tell me. “But the kids won’t eat them. They don’t taste the same.” The same is exactly our problem. What if you ate soup for breakfast instead of cereal? How many of you just cringed? What if we put steak omelets in our kids’ lunches instead of a sandwich? What if we let go of our attachment to the old ways, old habits, old things and opened our minds to all the new that change would expose?
It applies to food, nail biting, our determination to drive the same way to work every day, shop at the same places, run the same routes. We have the ability to expand ourselves and our lives by simply accepting a change. Sometimes they come to us, and sometimes we must actively create them. Strangely, the latter seems easier. In light of that, I’m encouraging everyone to go change something today. The discomfort of the unknown is quickly soothed by the discovery of the limitless potential of you.
Maybe it is something small. Maybe you try a new place for lunch (and meet the love of your life). You could skip your run and try long boarding (get health insurance first). Maybe you’ll try tea instead of coffee and find yourself inspired to travel to Darjeeling (where you’ll meet the best food of your life). If that all seems too scary for you, remind yourself that the old will always be there to welcome you back. Pumpkin spice will return faithfully every year. Sandwiches will not disappear. You will still be you, perhaps just a little more curious about what the next change will bring. //