This is the last Sunday of 2005. This is the last Sunday that will ever exist in this year. I'm not sure why this seems relevant--but somehow it does. We like to mark passings, us humans. I like it as much as the next person. I like to think it's about appreciating the transitory nature of things--but maybe it's really about attachment. I've been reading a lot of Buddhist texts lately, or rather texts by Buddhists about ancient Buddhist writings, and I've been thinking a great deal about attachment and desire. One of the writers I've been reading (Pema Chodron) writes about our human inclination to desire things, people, relationships, in the hope that somehow we will be at last satisfied or made happy once we attain whichever person/relationship/thing we want. When I read about this kind of attachment I feel strangely calm. Maybe it's because I see these very attempts in my own life. It seems to be all about seeking. Maybe it is really a way of not paying attention to what is happening right here and now, since the acts of seeking and desiring are quite obviously focused outside the present moment. In fact, is there any way to desire that which you already have? If it is present, and you desire it, does the desire become something else? I seek and desire that which I do not have. I seek and desire that which I may never have. I seek and desire that which I believe will make me feel better. More whole. Complete. But does this wholeness ever actually happen in relationship to something outside of oneself? I don't know. For me, these issues of desire and attachment are the major ones. They seem to be the ones that need the most attention. When I read this stuff, I realize how much work it is to be aware.
All of this ruminating makes me think about a line from a book I read long ago. I don't even know what book it is, but the line has always stuck with me. Two women are toasting themselves in the sun. One woman says to the other "When you have a tan, what have you got?"
2 weeks ago