autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

1 + 1 = 2

One of the biggest challenges to a human is finding the way to live life for what it is rather than what they wish it would be. This, a thing that I often struggle with, hallmarks almost every instance of unhappiness or discontent that I know in life.

There are many, many things that I wish could or would be different in relation to my past; however, nothing of the past can be changed by me. There are many, many things I wish were different about my present, but my potential to change any of them rests primarily in my willingness to change myself. Why? Because any impediment between me and the things I wish were different are centered in me. They are always, always centered in me.

Be it my perspective that I cannot or will not change, be it my ability or interest in doing things differently, or be it in my openness to accepting ‘what is’ from the world around me, every, single aspect of what I would have different about my present is bound up utterly in my own ability or its lacking.

It is frustrating at times, but mostly it is sad. Well, when I think of it at all. There is a good bit of my life that is beautiful, blissful, and without issue. Many things in my life are wonderful and without any shred of wistfulness for change or difference. Those areas in which this is not the case, most often, I simply let go as impossibility.

This is, I’m sure, counter-intuitive to others. Our culture and society tell us that we have to constantly push at these things. I disagree. Not only is pushing at them ineffective, it allows us to ignore the reality that they aren’t something to “push at” (context: outside, other, opposition).

Truth is, the things I cannot change, I need only accept as they are and then, let them go.

The most recent example I can think of is my biological sister. For decades, I “pushed at” the situation between us, thinking that I could “do something” that would “make things” better. It’s laughable when I look at it now, because it is so clear to me in this moment that what things I hold have nothing to do with the situation as it unfolded except that my own pushing made things worse.

The things that would make it positive for me to as much as approach a relationship with my sister are things that she will simply never choose for herself – things I cannot choose for her. They are not things I can or will enumerate because it is outside the sphere of my being and responsibility.

I no longer have the need to try and “make it work” because I know from brain to blood to bone that I have given my best, tried my hardest, and endure my longest. There, quite simply, is nothing “more” I have within me to commit to it.

In fact, I find an odd truth (well, I found it some years ago, but it took me the last ten years to really understand, assimilate, and make it part of me): when it comes to humans, what I can do is only half the equation… my responsibility is met by observing and honoring the simple reality that any “problem” cannot resolve well until and unless it is met equally. This is how equations work; be they math or the interpersonal.

To run the analogy into the ground, no matter how much I try, I cannot be “2”; I cannot make the equation in myself. 1 + 1 = 2; I am not 2 and were I to try being 2, not only am I no longer being honest or loving of myself as 1, I ruin the equation by encroaching upon the place of the other 1. The equation fails if the other 1 isn’t present fully, committed fully, engaging fully. It also fails if I fall prey to the delusion that I can be more than myself for them or replace any lacking of them with myself.

The sadness mentioned above rises mostly from having to admit that, as my silly, not always humble, 1-ness, there are limitations to my ability to engage and create positive things with others. Naturally, the buddhist in me recognizes this as opportunity to learn and grow and it is something I take very seriously (albeit something I fail at more than I succeed). The happiness, which is overall a far greater thing, is that there is considerable relief in accepting that it’s ok to be the 1 I am and that there are far more equations in which I can delight.

I think, ultimately, the realization that a perspective that focused on what I can do rather than what I cannot has subtly and paradoxically, profoundly, changed my outlook on life. I am a happier person. The things that make me sad do not own me. The things I cannot change become opportunities for consideration and learning rather than horribly “uglies” that I cannot bear to look at or thing about.

Most importantly, I can let things go without necessarily having to devalue or detest them.

The old song says that 1 is the loneliest number. I find I must disagree; 1 is never lonely except when it tries to be something more.