To my blog-reading peeps: this is from a letter I wrote to my new mother-in-law, who lives in England. I’m an introvert, so I hate talking on the phone. What to do instead, to connect with family who doesn’t really know me? Letters. Yeah. I’m that person. Not a “holier-than-thou-because-I-use-the-post” letter writer; just a stupid awkward person on the phone who associates email with work.
Also, I’m not against any of the religions, though I am against people who use them to oppress, control, or judge others. I just happen to find the language of Buddhism most appealing for me personally.
“[The husband] said you were reading a book on world religions, and finding it mostly full of twaddle. I just tried to type a paragraph about what Buddhism means to me, and why I say I’m ‘mostly Buddhist,’ but I couldn’t figure out how to write my own philosophies in a concise way. Like most people, I pick and choose what I like best about the philosophical system I follow—not all Buddhists would agree with me.
Basically I think Buddhism offers an alternative to the whole ‘be good and good things will happen to you’ message that is so very obviously untrue but touted by many religions. And Buddhism doesn’t claim that there’s any particular powerful being up there somewhere with your best interests at heart—again, a relief, because if the being is so powerful, why do innocents suffer? But mostly, Buddhism recognizes and reminds us that there is so very much in our lives we cannot control. That’s what the whole ‘live in the present moment’ admonition comes down to—we can’t control the future. Accepting that truth helps me to be nonjudging—of myself and of others. Basically we are all here together in this world we can’t control, able to remember the past and worry about the future but exist and act only in the present. How do we live as joyfully as possible, given those truths?
I suppose it could be ironic that I talk about joy when I suffer from depression, but I think joy is different from happiness. Joy is complex—not just about surface pleasures, not merely about the self and one’s individual experiences, but about connection and belonging and hope. When I meditate, I remember that I am also the part of myself that is noticing my sadness. I’m not trapped in my smallest, most pathetic feelings of worthlessness. I’m more than whatever society might judge me to be. Regardless of success or failure, winning or losing, being productive or barely getting through the day, I’m of value merely because I exist. Very little in contemporary life–besides love and meditation–sends that message to people. The messages we are most rigorously bombarded with are generally connected to someone wanting to make money, and money is made from insecurity, from persuading people they need to change/be better all the time because they are never, ever, good enough.
On that note I’ll sign off for now. And if you ever read my blogs, you might find some of this on there one day—trying to articulate these ideas to you, I have articulated them again for myself. I suppose that’s really what my blogs are about.”
p.s. I rarely feel good enough, myself. So any time I can hear those words—you are good enough—whether it’s from a loved one or an article or some sparking corner of my own mind, I value them. Those words do make a difference. You are good enough. Take it from me.