The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Letting go of it all

MeContrary to what people think, letting go isn’t a challenge. At least, not for everyone. Well, not for me. Au contraire, holding on is a definite challenge.

You are probably thinking I am crazy. But the truth is that you cannot be in a real relationship unless you can hold on. If you are adrift, then there is no relationship to speak of. (For those of you interested in Vedic astrology, I have planet Ketu in my ascendant sign, which may give some insight into this behavior.)

A friend once told me, not unkindly, “You only call when you have some work with me.” She said it in Hindi, and that sounded somewhat harsh. Of course, I took it terribly to heart, thinking that I had a problem. I couldn’t be a loyal friend, I was an opportunist, that I couldn’t be bothered with keeping up with friends.

The truth is that I have very few friends. I have wonderful relations with almost everyone I meet, and it is likely many consider me as a friend. But I see myself as a loner, a solo traveler. So, even if it might seem like you and I are awfully pally with each other, I think it is clear that I am less attached, even noncommittal.

I did commit to marriage, didn’t I? I am committed to a job, to being a responsible citizen. But ask anything more of me, and I will demur. I will most likely bow out. I will freeze.

Formerly, I thought this was a problem. Us human beings are so conditioned to be social beings, loyal to family and community and friends… you know all that. I think women are subject to this more so than men are.

Well, a wise woman told me that this was just who I was. I probably couldn’t change myself, even if I tried. I do wonder if this personality trait has kept me from having children. Ahh, well.

So, yes. I care about everyone in my life. I have no bitterness or resentment. But I do have a challenge being a good friend, as the definition goes. I have difficulty forming lasting attachments. C’est la vie, such is life.

Now this might seem like an advantage for folks who consider themselves spiritual-minded, who look at attachment as the root cause of sorrow, who wish to be free and detached. However, being adrift is no fun. It can possibly result in isolation, poverty, homelessness. Some sort of grounding helps. Marriage, career, children, etc. can provide that grounding. Of course, sometimes the grounding element becomes a constraint. It starts to bind you, restrict that freedom.

Finding the balance is bliss.

Wandering Away

As I see friends, colleagues, etc. pass through various life stages, I cannot help but wonder if I am falling behind in this race. Ahh, what race, you ask. Well, this so-called race of life, you know. Silly girl, there is no race. Every individual is on their own trajectory, isn’t it? Actually, I wonder if that is 100% true. I think many people are following trajectories that were laid out for them. By parents, influential persons, society, whatever.

Marriage, child#1, new home, large car, child#2, job promotion, newer home, larger car… The list goes on, long and relentless. Then comes graduation, marriage, grandchildren, and so on. These paths are well traversed and the markers are clearly laid out.

Then there are some others who wander on paths less traveled. Are they lost? Well, it may seem so at the beginning. Some of them had to break away from the clear path, as its lack of meaning, purpose and authenticity became evident. For me, it was neither planned nor deliberate. I simply couldn’t buy into the many rewards and milestones of the path, so I didn’t even break away. I just strayed away. Wandered away, so to speak.

Call me lost or directionless, whatever. My husband tells me that I have escaped social conditioning, no mean feat. Well, I escaped nothing, really. One of the advantages of having a thin ego membrane is the lack of investment in milestones and markers. There is relief, certainly, at having broken free of social expectations and ideas. But that has always been my lived experience, so really, this does not feel new or adventurous by any means.