I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t depend on the people in my life for happiness, I’m quite happy whether I’m with my family, spouse, best friend or favorite pet or alone. Don’t misunderstand: All of the dancers on the floor with me certainly enhance my life and my happiness in profound ways. But if experience and a whole lot of business traveling alone has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t require others to be happy. Does that diminish the value of the people in my life? On the contrary, I believe it highlights that they’re in my life for all the right reasons. So in reading this magnificent book Awareness, I was jolted by the following:
“What I really enjoy is not you; it’s something that’s greater than both you and me. It is something that I discovered, a kind of symphony, a kind of orchestra that plays one melody in your presence, but when you depart, the orchestra doesn’t stop. When I meet someone else, it plays another melody, which is also very delightful. And when I’m alone, it continues to play. There’s a great repertoire and it never ceases to play.” – Anthony De Mello, Awareness
I downloaded the Kindle version of this book after hearing it referenced by both Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday in a podcast interview and in a book, respectively. I read a lot, and have a lot of books to get through sitting in limbo, but sometimes the neon sign points to one you should read first, and this was it. De Mello passed away in 1987, and this book was published posthumously in 1990, building a passionate following ever since. I’m taking my time reading it, not because it’s tough to read, but because there’s a lot to chew on. It’s a lovely and profoundly compelling book, and well worth reading.
This week I’ll see a lot of family I don’t see enough, while next week I’ll be traveling alone in New York and will only see business acquaintances. Will I be more happy this week than next? I don’t think so. But will I enjoy this week more than next? That’s highly likely. This all sounds a bit narcissistic to me, but good God I’m really just not that into myself. Instead I’m trying to be outside looking in objectively. De Mello shakes away any illusions of grandeur anyway:
“Have you ever experienced your is-not-ness? In the East we have an image for this. It is the image of the dancer and the dance. God is viewed as the dancer and creation as God’s dance. It isn’t as if God is the big dancer and you are the little dancer. Oh no. You’re not a dancer at all. You are being danced!”
So there’s a little humility for you as we dance (sorry) with the concept of non-dependent happiness. History and travel are actually easier to write about. They seem less… self-indulgent. Whatever: Make the most of the day at hand, wherever you are and whomever you’re with. Dance with life a bit, otherwise what’s a life for?