I used to crush my lollies. It was like I thought if I finished them faster it would be better. I even used to think that this was just the way I was. I was this way when I was a child after all. But now I savour my lollies. I roll them around on my tounge. I taste them with every part of my mouth. I suck them until they’re gone.
On which part of the tounge does it taste the sweetest? Is it the tip? Only time will tell. Really, only the careful use of my attention will reveal the truth.
Is it actually the best when it tastes the sweetest? Or is that too much? Only listening to my body will I be able to discover that for myself.
Now you might be asking yourself: “Why am I reading an article about some guy and how he eats his confectionary?”. Indeed, that would be the right question. The lollie is a metaphor. And for my American readers this is what we English speakers call candy. Don’t rush your moments of peace in the hope of more excitement. Don’t crush your moments of joy in fear they’re going to end. And this is the hardest one. Don’t push away the difficult feelings in an attempt to extinguish them.
No one is exempt. But you can find equanimity in the face of life’s challenges.
You only have to read the writings of individuals like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, to see it’s possible to find peace and wisdom in the depths of hell. He published The Gulag Archipelagos, after being imprisoned in Soviet Russia’s Gulags for criticizing Josef Stalin in a private letter*1. Consider the following quote:
“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
He found wisdom in the worst conditions imaginable. He used his misfortune to discover some base truths about the human condition. Then he communicated what he’d learnt to the world.
So next time you’re doing something you love, try to remain truly present. Try to see if you are spending your attention in a way that adds to your life. Because you too can feel joy in life’s small pleasures. And next time you find yourself trapped in your own personal gulag, try to turn the sound of your mind down and be present in the face of the suffering. Because you’ll find you can bear the pain, and if you do you might learn something.