I remember there was a story about the Buddha and how he initially lived a very insulated life inside the palace walls of his royal family. He had everything and all the riches he could ever imagine. His father wanted to protect him from the insecurities and suffering that lie beyond the walls.
But eventually, Buddha made his way outside the walls and found endless suffering throughout the world. He saw death, disease, destruction, and all type of issues that plague mankind. And thus, began the journey of the Buddha.
For myself, as I grow older and I gain more responsibilities in life, I too am becoming more and more aware of the inevitable sufferings that await us in life. Nearly every one of my friends and loved ones that I am close to have dealt with (or are currently dealing with) issues that I do not wish upon them.
The older and older I get, the more I feel that the ability to simply feel normal is an absolute gift. The ability to walk, to chew, to talk normally. That is an absolute gift. I know everyone likes to dream of being extraordinary. Of being unique and one-of-a-kind and special in some way. To win everything there is to win in this world and to gain everything there is to gain.
People want to feel like they are meaningful. Like they matter. Like what they do will leave a lasting positive impact on the world. And there is obviously no problem with that.
At the same time, sometimes we need to take a step back and realize that no matter how special we think we are, we are just one in a billion lives on this planet trying to make it and find peace of mind and happiness and whatever it is that they desire.
Ironically, as I age, I realize the importance of taking care of my body and mind. So, I’ve been meditating, exercising, and practicing good habits consistently throughout the past year. And ironically, I would say that for now I seem to be in the best shape of my life now that I’m nearing my 40’s, compared with back then when I was still in my youthful 20’s.
Either way, I know that suffering will eventually come for us all. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, it doesn’t matter how great your friends are, or whether you live in a first world or a third world country. People simply suffer sooner or later, whether they are ready for it or not.
I’m sorry if this sounds morbid. It seems like many people try to do their best to buffer themselves from pain and suffering. Like if they try to post more on Instagram or get that promotion, then they will feel better about themselves and all of life’s problems will miraculously go away. Of course, it’s not like that.
No matter whether we are janitors at the local high school or whether we are Elon Musk pioneering the latest space travel, we will find suffering sooner or later wherever we go.
I guess technically it’s not really a bad thing to try to feel special or unique or out of the ordinary. But at the same time, if everyone’s unique then doesn’t that mean that no one’s unique? Maybe I’m just going in circles. But either way, these days I am trying to adjust my mindset.
Yes, I still love to go and travel the world and visit exotic places and all that. But sometimes, you also need to take a step back and practice enjoying the mundane stuff that happens every day. From drinking a nice hot cup of black coffee in the morning to snuggling underneath your blankets in your warm cozy bed with a roof over your head. I think simple pleasures are very important towards living a grand life as well.
We don’t need to be jet-setting. We don’t need to be skydiving. We don’t need to traveling to Bora Bora. Sometimes, we can find pleasure and contentment in the here and now. In the simple everyday moments in life that help us learn and grow and improve.
We don’t need to travel to outer space. We don’t need to solve every single problem there is in this world. We don’t need to carry the burden of an entire society. We just need to be ourselves and content with our own little lives.
And from there, we can build a life that we are proud of. Once we have that contentment and peace, then we will inevitably change the world for the better, whether we realize it or not. So, I don’t feel like there is a need to chase fortune or fame or pleasure. These things will come to you naturally once you are ready.
Our ability to function normally in everyday life is already a beautiful gift. The ability to walk. The ability to wash the dishes. The ability to think creatively. Every supposedly “normal” stuff that we do is already an absolute gift from the heavens.