Absence makes the heart grow (weaker/stronger?)

One of the frustrating aspects of life is letting go of things we really like. If one wants to practice Buddhism on any level, the “letting go” process is particularly important. But despite good Buddhist discipline, the experience of abandoning certain desires is no less agonizing or disorienting.

I’m sure the manifestations vary from person to person. Some people let go of bad habits such as smoking, excessive online time, compulsive spending, texting while driving, texting in general, or talking politics. These are a combination of impulses, crutches and ultimately unhealthy forms of gratification. Others may have to let go of more permanent fixtures such as jobs, wives, and other people and places in which we live and love. My guess is that all of the aforementioned actions usually lead to something better but as a race, humans are not usually inclined to do or appreciate what’s best for them.

As for me, I have had to surrender a bunch of passions I really wanted to hold onto. When I was younger, just to name a few, it was sugared cereals, living in New Hampshire and trying to stay at Tufts University, the school to which I applied and was accepted early decision. As life progressed, more and more had to be relinquished. Each one has tugged at my heart strings. These have included relationships, preconceptions, jobs, many assumptions, certain types of food and drink, even forms of spiritual devotion. I am sighing as I write this because I can feel in my heart how frustrating it has been to let go.

Over the last year I have really tried to re-commit myself to Buddhist/Christian/Jewish/life growth. In so doing, I have given up on any regular pattern of sleep, keeping all of my writing to myself, and thinking I needed a girlfriend and/or a wife to be happy. The jury is still out on whether this will prove to be good for me. But there is one passion in particular that I really found it a mixed bag and certainly disorienting to surrender. It was a fixture in my life for many weekends and probably even more so for millions of fellow Americans. For those of you who know me well, you might even know what it is. For those who don’t, I’ll spill the beans – it’s watching football.

Ten weeks into the NFL season and I have yet to watch a minute of football other than when I reflexively glanced at the TV at a restaurant or it was on a friend’s house and therefore the game watched me for a brief moment in time.  In neither case, did I pay attention. This past weekend, my love for football was really put to the test as my favorite team the Titans was in town to play against the Dolphins. I bought tickets. Good tickets. But protecting my football sobriety was more important. I gave the tickets away to a friend.

It was weird not to go, but as I have realized each of the ten NFL Sundays so far, the games go on without me.

When I really get honest with myself, going cold turkey on the NFL has reminded me that are way more important things than sports scores. There are also more important things than keeping up with our habits. I’m at a point in life where going to a movie or reading a good book on weekends is far more rewarding than having to stress out about outcomes over which I am powerless.

I do look forward to a point in my life where I do watch some football again. I am not sure when that will be. In the meantime, I will keep writing a lot and experiencing other unanticipated forms of letting go. Little did I know that when Paul McCartney sang “Let it Be”, he wasn’t just singing about one thing. He was referring to everything.


2 thoughts on “Absence makes the heart grow (weaker/stronger?)

  1. Mark
    This is one of your best, if not the best, blogs.
    The inner thoughts and feelings expressed, your language and style were riveting.it made me both think and laugh and at the same time it captured who and where you
    are at the moment.
    Well done !

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

  2. Football isa total waste of time evidenced by the Canes game this weekend. We lost on the last play. The Dolphins…what can you say???


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