The date is January 1, 2024. One year ago, two people, Sarah and Tom, stumbled upon a helpful resource while searching for help.
Sarah has since quit the job she didn’t like, left a relationship that was terrible, moved out of the city to be closer to nature, started playing piano (a hobby she’s wanted to try for 20 years), and is training to run the Boston Marathon. It’s been months since she thought about a cigarette and only has wine on special occasions – not every night and weekend like she used to. She routinely reaches out to friends and family just to see how they are doing – deeply curious about their lives and wellbeing. She inspires people with her loving, patient nature. She doesn’t make a ton of money, but makes plenty for the basics and is saving up to someday live on a lake with a kayak. She has aspirations in life, to be a great piano player, to publish some of her stories, to help other people – but at the same time feels deeply content and grateful about her life as it already is. She feels lucky.
Tom, frantically scrolled through the resource in about 15 seconds. His mind was in lizard mode – his eyes darting around trying to spot an easy fix for his psychological pain. After not seeing anything “obvious”, he tried two more google searches before a notification pulled him back to Instagram. He laughed at a meme and commented on another video about what a fool someone was for drunkenly falling over. Some random show was playing in the background on Netflix… he put his phone down, took a vape, and watched for about an hour. His mind was a pinball – barely able to stay with its deepest wishes, instead distracted by the relentless allure of his environment. He went to bed that night feeling sad. One year later, a day in his life is almost exactly the same, with new memes, and a new netflix show. His face looks older, he has more gray hair, and some pain in his lower back he can’t explain. He is one year closer to death.
Was a silver-bullet responsible for Sarah’s wellbeing? No. She simply stepped-back, slowed down, and started paying attention. Gradually… her priorities became clear.
Tom’s anxious, seeking mind blinded him to any possibility of relief – just as the poet Rumi lamented, 800 years ago.
Truths: Certain realities about life are disturbing and society tends to hide them. I believe brutal honestly is best – this helps remove noise and makes room for actual happiness. Sugarcoating only hurts us in the long run. Why not accept reality sooner? Desire is empty, We are fundamentally alone, There is no universal meaning, Everything is impermanent, and Reality is not what it seems.
Cautions: We bump into these truths blindly throughout life. The most common places we get frustrated and stuck are related to love and sex, work, distraction, reality distortion, self illusion, meaning, and victimhood.