Miscellany - Getting Unstuck
“Is that what you want?” Grandpa asked.
I nodded my 7-year-old head and admired the Jujubes that I held in my hand. My mom had warned me not to get candy that was gummy, but I knew what I wanted, so there I was.
Once I exited the store and was seated in my Grandpa’s truck, I indulged the craving that had motivated me to ignore my mother’s warning.
Earlier that day my mom had taken me to the dentist to get silver caps on my two bad molars. Now, after just a few bites, I felt a weird, crunching sensation in the back of my mouth. With a quick exploratory swipe of my tongue, I discovered an awful effect caused by the delicious, gummy candy. My caps had been pulled off! My mom was right!
At this moment of panic, the awesome flavor that I had sacrificed so much to experience had turned bitter and gross. I then had to go back to my mom, explain my actions, and go back to the dentist to get the damage corrected. In the end I couldn’t even remember what it was that I had wanted so much in the first place.
This small moment in my life comes to mind because the more I meet and interact with new people over the years, the more I notice how self-serving and hyperactive we can be in our relationships. Whether it’s friendships or love interests, we always seem to be in search of the “next best thing,” and when we don’t find it that very moment, we become resentful and miss out on potentially meaningful experiences, all while taking for granted what’s good in our lives.
If I had simply waited to have Jujubes, it would have been great, but instead I had such an awful experience that I haven’t eaten that kind of candy since.
I recently discovered this quote by a philosopher: “Desire little in this world, and what you do desire, desire that little. Abandon yourself.”
Wow. Abandon yourself? It was reflecting on these words that made me realize that in fact, when it comes to relationships, it’s my self that often causes me pain and grief.
I look back at this past fall, a bit of an emotionally down time for me. I let myself get depressed and felt sorry for myself. I kept asking myself why, and this quote seems to shed some light on that.
I was going about my life completely for myself. I kept wondering why I wasn’t finding this great guy to have a relationship with and why gays my age seemed to judge me based on my not-so-perfect body. I was on this selfish mission, looking for people in the gay community to connect with.
I thought that that was something missing from my life and important for my development as a gay man. I had friends then and I have friends now, but I wasn’t thinking about them. I kept just looking beyond them, seeking more, new. I was in search of …the next best thing. Realizing this has given me an idea of how I need to be.
Take last week for example. I had a business meeting. This isn’t rare, so I approached it as I do all meetings. As I entered the coffee shop and looked about to find the person I was meeting, I saw a well-put-together, really attractive guy about my age sitting there. His dress seemed a little too kempt for a straight guy, and I immediately started to dread having to meet with him.
“He’s going to be a jerk, and I’m going to feel awkward” raced through my mind. However, I decided to just “abandon myself” and not let an initial impression affect the situation or how I was going to be.
When I sat down and began the meeting, I sort of recognized him from some past function and we started talking. I realized that we have a lot of mutual friends and similar interests. From the second he said hello, it was clear that there wasn’t any pretense in his disposition. He was a real person and a really nice guy. Much to my amazement, I think he might become a friend.
So what was the difference? Why was this meeting different? That’s easy … each person is different? Well, yes, but beyond that, at that very moment I wasn’t searching for a great guy to become friends with. I was just simply taking the situation for what it was.
By abandoning myself and getting rid of all of the cravings, personal motivators and filters working to find the next best thing, I found something great. I found that as I get over myself, I am slowly but steadily meeting some really genuine guys in the gay community and making some meaningful connections.
So here I am, intrigued by these events and armed with hope. I’m going to just move forward. It’s becoming more and more clear that maybe my selfish, hyperactive quest to satisfy a craving that I think I’m having might not be the best way to go about my journey. As much as I still hate to admit it, my mom was right all along.
The need to satisfy an immediate craving just makes stuff stick to you and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.