My computer is sitting on my coffee table. I just have two dim lights in my small apartment, and the monitor looks much brighter in this dark room. I got home about half an hour ago, put the new CD that I got last night into my stereo, lit one of my good Japanese incenses (I only use my Japanese incenses for special occasions), poured a glass of wine for myself, and cut the Lavash bread that I got from the Whole Food and put it in the fridge. I also got a spicy tomato soup for dinner, but I’m going to eat it later. I eat this tomato soup 3 to 4 times a week, and I’m not very excited about it; I prefer to finish my wine first.
My apartment is small, and wherever I go I see the light of the monitor of my laptop. Two days ago I promised (to myself) that I won’t write again, and I don’t want to write. I have a movie to see tonight. It’s not one of the San Francisco Film Festival movies; it’s an old movie that I saw many years ago. Like all the movies that we used to see back then in Iran, I saw it with a bad quality. Tonight they are showing it on a big screen, with a good quality! I want to go and see it, but my mind is way too busy, and I can’t stop the temptation. I sit and put my laptop on my lap. I have a strange relationship with my laptop. During the day, when I have to work on the boring technical stuff, I can’t stand seeing it. But at night, she is my lover. I’ve spent many nights with her, much more than many of the lovers that I had in the past. I promised that I won’t spend another night with her, but I can’t resist; sounds familiar, doesn’t it? They say if you can resist a temptation, it doesn’t mean that you’re strong; it’s the temptation that is weak. Am I a strong person? Many people think I am, but frankly, I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. I’ve just been practicing to lose things for a long time. Tonight, I’m going to lose the only opportunity that I have to see this old movie on big screen. I love to see this film, I love films in general, but it’s OK. Seeing the movie doesn’t make me excited enough to leave my lover now, I’m going to stay.
I’m thinking about this word “excitement”. I thought about this word a few hours ago at the Whole Food when I saw a girl looking at the strawberries and trying to choose one of the baskets. I could easily see the excitement in her eyes. I also thought about this word two days ago, when a friend asked me “What the hell do you like then?!”. What do I like? It’s a tough question, and I can’t really answer that. I’ve been thinking about this question since she asked me, and I realized that my list is not longer than very few things. I’m thinking about the things that I’m attached to, and I can’t think of more than two things. The only two things that make me happy, two things that take me to another world, the only things I thought about after leaving them behind in Iran, the only two things that I really care about are my books and my CDs. I’m thinking about the list that I had a few years ago, it was much longer than this. What happened to my list then? Once I had a long list, many things could make me happy, many things could make me excited. I had many hobbies, I liked to learn about everything. Just throw out a subject, and I most probably have something to say about it, and I’ve spent some time learning about it. Once someone said there are two types of people, people who care about learning, and people who don’t care. People who care to learn are two types as well, some are like a deep well, they know a couple of things very well and very deep. The other group loves everything and is like an ocean, but two inches deep! They know about a lot of things, but not deep, they just can’t limit themselves to one or two things. Once I belonged to the last group. I loved everything and wanted to learn about everything. What happened to my passion? What happened to my long list? This is the question that I’ve been asking myself for the last couple of days. Now I think that I have an answer.
Tao Te Ching says:
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
This has been told many times in many different forms and words, but they are all the same: want it, and you’ll never get it. But turn your back to it, and it will be there for you. This is especially true in human relationships. But there’s a paradox there: if you turn your back to something just in order to get it, then you’re not really turning your back– you’re just playing a game. And if you really turn your back, then who cares about getting it anymore?
I learned about this in my childhood, I learned that I should let it go. I learned that I shouldn’t get attached to anything, or I could be sure that it would cause me a lot of pain. Like any other child, I was attached to my family, but I learned in the very early years that I can’t really rely on them. I was attached to my friends, but after losing two of them in the war, and many more who left the country, I learned to let them go as well. I thought if I build something, if I create something, that’s going to be mine forever. But I was wrong. Since I was a child I thought no matter what, I’m not going to let anything destroy my own family, but for no reason, absolutely no reason, it happened and I couldn’t stop it. And I learned more and more to detach myself; I learned to reduce the importance of things that I cared for, just to protect myself from being in pain. My list got smaller and smaller, but losing those few things got more and more difficult and painful. In order to protect myself and prevent the pain, I learned to reduce the importance of the items on my list, but with that, I lost the excitement. Excitement to me is equal to loss, to pain, and to suffering. I’m practicing detachment, I’m practicing not wanting, but every step towards that detachment is painful, and I just can’t get used to the pain.
They say Shebelli, the old Sufi, once said: “I want not to want anything“.
Sheikh Abolhasan Kharaghani said: “But you want that as well!”
I just want not to want anything, but I don’t know how not to want that.