“You can only lose something that you have, you cannot lose something that you are.”

A friend sent me a link to George Carlin’s video of why religion is bullshit. I watched it, and my mood went downhill from then on. My mind automatically corrects what he says, and when I scrolled to the comments I was thinking “there is so much hatred in these people”.

And then I got an email for a mock interview session in two weeks. Which made me feel like a very, very scared, and useless rabbit. The common theme is that I don’t know how to protect my ‘self’ or have complete and beautiful answers to people who ask me about my career or religion. I don’t know the answers. I wish I had the answers. Fuck. All the brainpickings articles I read about living the questions does nothing for my anxiety.

Although this brings me to the next point. I spent last night reading Tolle’s The Power of Now. It is a good book only if you have enough life experience to understand what it is like to be held back by the past, or to constantly wish for the future. I know that I am good enough to be hired for most of the jobs that I am applying to, those are ‘safety jobs’. But I don’t think I am good enough- not yet. I am not where I want to be, because there is no end goal.

This whole high school mentality of not fitting in and being awkward happens in adult life too, even though I know that passing job interviews is a function of how well-prepared you are and what the interviewer thinks of your fit with the company. It says very little about your potential, unless you don’t have any past job experiences to show that you are a high performer, then the interview is all the recruiter has to go by. Which can make me feel like an insane, cooped-up box of hair.

I completely identified with what he meant by constantly living for the future. I spent 2016 doing things for the future- getting good grades, to secure an internship, to secure a job, to secure a pension. I didn’t spend too much of my time in the moment, it was always about the future, because that is the only thing that matters. Now I look back and I realised that the whole of 2016 passed by in a blur. I learned so many things that I don’t remember.

The only moment that I will experience is the ‘now’. It sounds simple, until I looked at myself and realised that I was spending a lot of my thoughts about anything other than now. The human condition: to be lost in thought, unable to retrieve myself.

I do think I am self-aware though. Reading helps a lot, I don’t ascribe the way I think or my values to other people, I believe that individuals are all unique and worthy of a human life. There is good to be found in everybody, even if the uncle is blasting his pop music on the bus at 7am and I just want to murder him. Maybe the uncle has no grandchildren to tell him what earbuds are, or maybe he can’t afford hearing aids. There are many explanations for the person acting the way he does, and unless I take the time to be present, to really look at him and wonder what it is like to live his life, I might continue living our (wrong) instincts. Seeing the person as a whole is a hard thing to do when I have anger inside me.

For example- my mom cooked TCM medicine in the morning and I was so irritated because I told her clearly the night before that I don’t take medicine in the morning on Fridays, because it causes untold pain and I don’t want to suffer through comms class at 8.15am. I snapped at her, and she said something rude back. And then I regretted it immediately- it was my instinct to protect myself- the narrative inside my head was “I don’t want to take the medicine, I don’t want to waste my time storing it either, I clearly told her and she should have followed instructions.” And also, I was half-awake, I literally just walked out of my room and into the kitchen.

But I was the rude one first. At the back of my mind, I knew that she probably woke up at 4am to soak the medicine in water, and then she had to watch the stove, which disrupts her sleeping time. While she might have forgotten, it is not like she intentionally did it. After all, it’s my medicine, I should be the one watching it on the stove. Who am I to tell other people to do things for me? But she left the house already- she always attends church in the morning, and yes she is normally awake at 4am doing other things. I texted her that I was sorry, and she texted something nice back. But if I had this narrative of me being some sort of wronged and abused alpaca, I would have been steaming in my anger for probably another good twenty minutes. Being present and not letting emotions mislead me is important. Being able to see peoples’ side of the story is also important, many narratives form a sort of 360 degrees view of the situation.

Returning to the topic of job applications.

Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.

― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

But one thing after reading The Power of Now is that I see my past slightly differently. Yes, it created me. Yes, it was painful. But instead of seeing it as ‘I don’t regret anything, although I dislike some parts of it’, I choose to see those experiences as something that money cannot buy. They are completely, wholly, mine. Even if other people want what I got, because those are not experiences created by other people but by mix of circumstances and luck, they can’t.

I now see myself as being given unique opportunities to form my character. Although I might be a bit wonky in the head, but that is the human condition. Adults are just as bogged down by their ‘identity’ as children are. To not know if there is one good character, and to always be wondering at “what else?” in our lives and relationships.

Until we live in the now, and there are future plans, but there is nothing lacking in the ‘now’. Apart from a slightly odd sense of uneasiness because I know that I have a quiz in three days, but I haven’t started studying yet.