I often look back on my life and think about the things that I have lost: Jobs, family, friends, relationships, objects. Loss comes in many forms. You may lose these things forever or by a sheer stroke of luck (or determination), “find” them again. Of course, losing your wallet isn’t nearly as painful as losing a friend. Wallets can be replaced and not to sound pessimistic but so can friends. Maybe not that particular friend, but people come and go. I think of people as the subway; you miss the first train but soon another one comes 5 minutes later. I had a friend tell me this was a rather shallow way of looking at life but I like to think of it as detached.
In Buddhism, a lesson that is very hard for me to learn in particular (and still to this day) is to not develop attachments to people, places or objects. Attachments are said to cause suffering and every human being down to their simplest needs and desires are to avoid suffering and seek happiness. For example, take someone who dreams of traveling. They have a house full of possessions, live a comfortable life, have a stable job and are content but not completely happy because they aren’t fulfilling an inner desire. But because of their attachment to those things, they don’t have the freedom to travel. Rarely, you hear of people selling everything they own and making a risky, life-altering decision. Ask those people later if they regret it? Unlikely.
I’ve thought about just taking a year off from my life and traveling to the East to study with the monks. Shaving my long, black hair off (an attachment) and being alone with myself. Truly be alone with my thoughts for hours on end. I wonder what person I would then become if I were to make such a decision. Medication, doctors, therapists, hospitals, drugs, partying, none of it seems to work for me. It feels like a last resort decision.