Attachment, podcasts, grey hairs and how everything changes at 37.
Over the weekend I listened to a Jack Kornfield podcast on the subject of attachment. Podcasts are a strange new world for me, I used to hate them with a passion. And I’m not one to use the word hate lightly. For starters, there’s no control over the pace of learning…it requires a tonne of patience which is not a virtue I possess. Secondly, I’ve always been a highly visual learner. But when I hit 37 this year, that suddenly changed.
In fact, a lot of things changed. The odd stray grey hair that hid politely beneath my fringe turned into an ostentatious cluster that reminds me a little of Pepe Le Pew. My favourite music genre – previously metal – just seemed a bit too ‘angry’ for me, so I started favouring the softer side of my collection, leaving me with only Pink Floyd and REM. Oh, and I started listening to Podcasts. Lots of Podcasts.
Flavour of the week is Jack Kornfield. Now, in case you’re wondering who Jack Kornfield is, he’s a fairly popular Buddhist practitioner. I’d never heard of him before, to be honest, but I do like the Buddhist perspective. I’m not even sure how I came across him, but it may have been to do with my recent Twitter addiction after leaving Facebook (it’s like quitting Coke to replace it with Pepsi).
Like all good Buddhists, Jack has a smooth, calm voice that really makes you really feel at home. Possibly because you are at home-it’s a podcast, after all. After an awesome story about a Palestinian solider at about 20mins, he gets back on topic. “What is attachment?” Jack asks. “Does it mean a partner shouldn’t be attached to their lover? A mother shouldn’t be attached to their baby?”
Of course, the answer is no. Non-attachment means to still be present, but without trying to control the outcome. He explains that some people believe they’re practising non-attachment by ‘letting it go’, when in fact they are just practising avoidance. Avoiding life, avoiding pain, and living through fear.
Jack then poses the question: “If not attached, what about marriage, relationships, family, caring for things in the world that matter? How do we do this without attachment?” He explains there’s a different frequency, and the words that describe it are “dedication, commitment, direction, and care”. Non-attachment drops the controlling aspect, but still involves being present, having a sense of direction, and ‘showing up’ for life.
Jack ends by explaining that the whole point of life isn’t to perfect yourself, but rather to perfect your capacity to love. To tend to relationships with care, but without attachment. To weed the garden, tend to it, plant seeds…but to let the seeds grow as they will. Despite the main focus of his talk being on non-attachment in regards to relationships with others, I can probably take a lesson in regards to the relationship I have with myself – with my greying hair, changing music taste, and sudden, inexplicable penchant for podcasts.
Clearly, I don’t know who I’ll be tomorrow, but I can still “show up” and take care of the things that matter today.