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The Story Told vs. The Storyteller: Thoughts on Detachment

Half-my-life ago, teenager me used to ask himself how the adult life surrounding him had come to be. He was quite certain that he would never grow old – that things would always remain the same. He was sure that time would pass and years later, he would still be fighting the daily “Mother vs. Morning Sluggishness” duel, praying for the math teacher to forget to collect his homework and bragging about his newest video-game cartridge.

A couple of Disney movies later, reality dawned on him and what he expected to be the “And he lived happily ever after” part of the plot suddenly revealed itself as the “Once upon a time” page in his book of life. And that is when he realized that all he had lived until then was nothing more than a foreword. And as such, it had been written by a third party.

I was twenty years old. My relationship to my family was at the worst it has ever been. I had just quit my student job and used all the money I had saved to pay my student debt. I was about to start my third university program after two cast-aside attempts and I was still not sure the third program I had chosen actually fit me. My relationship to friends was a catastrophe after repetitive disappointments accumulated during our rapidly-changing adolescence. And well, I was single. After all, not even I could handle myself while having all this happen at the same time I was going through sexual and religious identity crises. I was a complete mess with no direction for life. And this is just a rather polished summary of the first section, which I believed was being fully written by me in my book of life. Fact is: it was not (yet), but I did not know it.

But then things changed. Of course – things always change. And as they did, I managed to find my way through to my comfort zone. And there I found myself working hard to pay the bills. Then I worked harder because working to pay the bills made me need more than I did before. And this more I needed had a price tag I could not afford, so the bills also went up and then I had to work even harder. I longed for Fridays so that I could party away the anxiety I had accumulated during the week. And I dreaded Mondays when reality would fall upon me. I remained stuck in my so-called comfort zone for long enough until I could virtually feel young me laughing at how ridiculous I looked like running in circles trying to catch my own tail.

My early adulthood concern about being lost was suddenly not an issue anymore. I was not stuck in inertia, for at least life was moving somewhere and I was letting myself be steered along with it. For every turn of events, I quickly ran after the next best comfort zone, where I fooled myself into a kind of pleasure triggered by the vicious consumption of my authenticity. Self-indulgence had taken over.

Fortunately, things changed again. At this point I could write that “One day I woke up and, and, and…” but the fact is that the crave for a complete life-makeover did not hit me when the sun came up. It was only after many miserable and lonely lazy Sundays after the sun went down and I was alone in bed waiting to fall asleep that I felt this inexplicable realization that there was something beyond the walls of my comfort zone. As I peeked at it, it was clear to me that a much longer and winding road was in front of my eyes. Nevertheless, little did I know that despite being lengthier, that road did not demand fancy shoes nor a suit and tie to be walked upon, that road did not stop me every now and then to collect toll fees and that road allowed me to walk, stroll, jump, run, drive, take a ride or even fly along its path. However, or should I say, moreover, that road had a price to be paid for each step along its way – and ‘detachment’ was its currency.

And there I was. The utmost uncomfortable time of all when I had to learn to detach from places, things, people and ideas so that I could reach new places, need ever less and less things, surround myself by different people and cherish never-before-imagined ideas. And I did not only pull through it – I loved it! And symbolically speaking, my mind was the engine, positive thinking was the fuel, diligence was the additive and creativity was the motor oil.

Fond of sharing, I have browsed through several of my personal writings and dug into my mind to compile what I consider to be the backbone and the doctrine of my personal road towards detachment. These are:

  1. Pursue joy as a lifestyle. After all, happiness is only a circumstance.
  2. Think positive. And remember that positivity is a skill; and as such, it can be learned.
  3. Make gratitude an autonomous action, not a sentiment. And thank yourself daily.
  4. Fight for success. But use value and effect as measurements, not effort nor money.
  5. And remember that significance is granted, not inherent. You can define what, where, when and how much (significance) to confer.

Years have passed since I entered the ‘detachment’ road and started learning and practicing the lessons learned. I have had good and bad days, sunny and rainy Sunday afternoons as well as successes and pitfalls. Yet, never have I felt like my life was being written by third-parties as if running in auto-pilot mode. By learning to detach, I have managed to live in a reality created by my dreams and not in an illusion moulded by the expectations of the world surrounding me. I took control.

Moreover, letting go of things, losing people, leaving places behind and revising morals became so much easier as part of my routine once I got used to how seasonal everything in life is, including life itself. And as I keep on writing stories on my book of life, I rejoice about how exciting it is to let go of all that I am accustomed to and to move on to all that I designed for myself despite not knowing them for sure yet… in other words, my future.

And it feels so right to be the writer and the story teller instead of the character and the story told. Detaching is finding the 60 seconds for every minute of life.

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