Sometimes the simplest things in life can teach us profound lessons.
I was at a grocery store the other day to pick up some lunch for me and my wife. This was a busy place with an assortment of appetizing offerings. As I struggled to whittle down my options, I (halfheartedly) settled on a tomato penne, a mini vegetarian pizza and a hot italian sausage. I picked a number, and soon enough it was my turn to place my order. I started with the pasta order, and no sooner had the nice lady across the counter neatly packed and sealed it for me in a little box, that in rolled in a brand new chicken pesto pasta. Both me and my wife love pesto, so I was a little bummed that I just missed out on this. Then, I learned that they had just ran out of the veggie pizzas, and just as I was about to ask for the last cheese pizza, that too was getting picked up to be wrapped up for someone else.
I was unbelievably annoyed! My internal mind chatter reached a crescendo. If only I had done this or that, maybe I could have gotten both things that I wanted. Or I should have just gone to the other lunch place and ordered a pizza and wings as I was initially thinking. On and on my mind went.
Until suddenly a little insight on attachment gleamed through my “turmoil”. This wisdom is preached in timeless books and philosophies such as the Gita, Tao Te Ching, Zen, Buddhism and many others. In short, the teaching goes that our endless worrying about outcomes leads to stress and suffering —instead let go, just be, enjoy the process and flow with ‘what is’. The biggest area of my life where I was applying this was my work. Where before, I used to constantly worry about the outcomes of projects, meetings, etc, I had now become much calmer and even more productive as I stopped expending energy on things I couldn’t control. It made a tremendous difference. In fact, I considered myself somewhat of a master at applying this to all areas of my life. Right up to the point where I was absolutely losing my sh*t over pasta and pizza!
It goes to show that we can certainly understand and intellectualize the wisdom in books. But true understanding only comes when you can embody this wisdom in everyday life.
Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. — Zen quote
I smiled and went home. And it turned out, the penne and sausage were delicious!