We all worry about things an awful lot. We think about being single, being in difficult relationships, improving our conditions at work. We worry about our friends, and their relationships and worries. Sometimes we worry so much that we start to feel a weight upon our shoulders, a weight that pushes down upon us and makes us feel sluggish and anxious. We eat too much, we watch too much television – in the end we make the escape from worry the focus of our lives, and our lives become episode after episode of running away.
The question we have to ask ourselves is what are we running away from? So many of our worries don’t exist. They are projected upon us by our friends or family – we may be worrying about a relationship that we’re in: why don’t people approve? why is it that I am happy but others think I could do better? We may be worrying about our appearance: I feel comfortable and easy with myself when I’m alone: why do people criticise me? Too skinny? Too fat? I can’t win. We may be worrying about our lifestyle – perhaps we work very hard and like to spend downtime by lying in for whole mornings or taking incredibly long baths: why are you sleeping in? why don’t you work around the house more?
The fact is that these criticisms and these pressures aren’t real. They are the result of others attributing intentions and motivations to us based on their own personal experiences. We have all experienced the freedom that comes of one day feeling the burden slide off our shoulders. It often happens in a flash – we’re in a park, perhaps sitting on a bench, on a cool day under a blue sky in a foreign city. We might be on a business trip or vacation but stolen away for an afternoon on our own – we might have a coffee and are sitting on the bench and we suddenly feel the world around us. We run our hand across the rounded, rough planks of the bench, feathering the grooves and flaking paint with our finger tips, absent-mindedly feeling the the reality of our surroundings. We’re in the park but a million miles away at the same time – and the voices of couples chatting near us, families discussing a map or giggling teenage girls seem faraway, but still park of the soundscape of the little drama going around us. Slowly, our muscles relax – the breeze feels so real as it brushes leaves that scrape and rattle by and pushed tufts of fluff past our cheek, tickling us. We feel our breathing. We hear our heartbeat. And in what seems like a few minutes, we feel our muscles relax and we feels as though we are part of the bench – part of the scene, as though someone has painted us and the moment is immortal, even though we are living it so acutely.
We feel alive, we feel real. We feel as though our worries aren’t so real, that those worries are far away.
And they are. It’s amazing.
When we get up and look at our watch, we realise that hours have gone by and as we walk back into the reality of our lives, we feels lighter, our mind and soul and body is vibrating. We’ve crossed a mental threshold and we have let go.
Amazingly, the feeling lasts. We tasted freedom now. We realise it’s possible. We don’t want to let it go.