Let me go

We need to embrace those little sad moments of our days. Arms wide open. Otherwise, sadness may show up in all of its wholeness, and it can be quite scary. It is good to keep a positive stance, for sure. To try and find new ways. To carry out thought experiments. However, there are times when the best we can do is stay still, simply wait for the wind to change. But what about taking a few steps back? Is that also a possibility? When facing a dead end, it’s the only option. And what would life be without the exploration of all those alleys, stairways or lanes whose destination we have no clue about?

If we can’t accept sadness, can we ever be able to leave anything behind? Maybe this is what detachment is about. Or at least one of its multiple layers.

Maybe the hardest part of detachment is having to choose between either holding on to this safety net (but to stand still) or to move on. To move on even if we know that eventually the net will no longer provide safety. And even if we know that the possibility of falling is real.

In the beginning, even excesses may be hard to part with. But it soon becomes easy to get rid of what we didn’t actually want, but that we deemed necessary. Necessary because we had to compensate for things we did because we thought we had to. Exquisite restaurants that only served to justify an unsatisfactory job, these can go straight away. Same for the fancy clothes we thought would exalt our true personality, since our true personality only had a very limited time to show itself. All those things become useless when there is more time for being. When I can be who I am for me, not for others, then whatever I wear becomes less relevant. Maybe it turns out to be irrelevant because the need to show off subsides as well. Because at that point, it is just the essence that shines through.

Nevertheless, this is just the easy part. It’s no more than leaving behind the excess of comfort that we reckoned necessary to balance the excess of discomfort. It is about letting go of the defenses against risks that ceased to threaten. If there is any concern about losing all those luxuries (that do no more than blurring the real fear of change), then this concern should not hinder any move. It will be over soon.

The dread of going to some kind of boredom limbo also quickly dwindles away. Finding something to do when there is more time available should not be a problem. There is a lot to do without spending much. Even though I’ve been in a sabbatical for more than a year, I feel like I don’t have enough time to do half of the things I’d like to do. There is a museum close to home that I still haven’t had the chance to visit. What about books? For every one that I finish, I come across three others that I wish I would read.

The loss of professional identity is also something to be overcome in no time. From senior economist in the financial market I soon turned out to be the person who had the guts to explore. If the loss of some kind of label comes off as distressful, another one can be promptly arranged. But the need for a label in general should also die away soon. To nurture the spirit, to do what you like, to realize you can do things differently… all way more valuable than a title that serves for little more than introducing yourself to someone you’re not really sure you want to meet. A title that merely summarizes someone with no time to introduce himself to someone else who is not available to comprehend it.

The “market calling” can be strong. The wish for making money drives us away from vocation. Does detachment mean going for your vocation? We all want to be authentic. It doesn’t come for free, of course: hard work, in all kinds of ways, is crucial. The conditions that allow one to pursue their individuation journey must be conquered. Conditions that weave to form some kind of monetary safety net.

Maybe the hardest part of detachment is having to choose between either holding on to this safety net (but to stand still) or to move on. To move on even if we know that eventually the net will no longer provide safety. And even if we know that the possibility of falling is real.

This is difficult.

Especially for those who struggled to build the safety net, knowing how strenuous it was, and now need to decide whether to use it or not. It’s not always straightforward to remember that the safety net was never an end in itself.

Taking the next step is a little bit more intricate. To start again? Will it be possible to restart again? I don’t even know if grammar allows us to restart again. What about life, way more complex and a lot shorter than grammar?

Does sadness come from fear? Or does it come from the certainty that things will be different? Detachment sadness.

How nice it would be if we were like the guardians from Plato’s Republic, having been raised with music and gymnastics in the right proportion, so that we could follow without any doubts the path allotted for us?

But we are not.

Gladly so. Because a brave new world is but a dystopia. And in the more than two thousand years between Plato and Huxley, no one could ever think of a way of terminating human uncertainty without terminating humans, or whatever humane there is.

If there was no sadness, nothing substantially changed. If the change was not supposed to be substantial, why go through all the hassle in the first place? Bring on destiny. It exists, even if only on an instant-by-instant basis.

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