The Excitement of “What if”

1008265_530511956983931_1935603582_oFeelings of romantic attraction can be very ungrounding. They evoke a novel kind of storm, and when I get quiet enough in meditation, beneath the pleasured agitation, I come to hear a bubbling undercurrent of possibility….what if this?? what if that?? what if! what if! what if my life completely changed?

I suppose it’s a blessing to find out as quickly as possible that these “what if’s” aren’t mutual. It certainly helps me descend back to a more manageable state of mind, though the question of what to do with the connection still remains. Staying friends always seems like the nice thing to do…

In the past, I saw these one sided attractions as energizing, and thought channeling the energy into creative projects was beneficial. Technically, they are energizing; as adrenaline is being released, and rewarding as well as addictive when dopamine is being released. So there’s no denying that it does speed up the creative process, and maybe that’s what’s sometimes behind the idea of the “artistic muse.”

However, dhamma has previously shown me that this is a temporary energy which ultimately drains. I may be productive in one sense, but hijacking neural-chemicals produced by the illusion of hope is really no different than using drugs to enhance creativity, and as with drugs, what goes up must come down. An illusion can only satisfy so much hopefulness before it crumbles, and then I’m left wondering what I missed out on during all that time I wasn’t present? …What kind of creations and connections might I have made?

I know now to approach unbalanced attraction with caution and self-compassion. It’s nice to stay friends, but only if I’m really being nice to myself. If it’s taking too much work to stay centered, I’m simply not strong enough yet to be that kind of friend.

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This entry was posted in Observations, Personal Experiences and tagged , , by Ryan Shelton. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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