She had taken the course, she was an earnest student, and she had been consistently practicing the act of remaining aware. She was still hard on herself when she slipped into ego, but she had learned to repeatedly dissolve her previous ‘problems’ into ephemeral thought-forms.
She felt massively better about herself and her life. And, like many students who continue to practice and do well, the only time I hear from them is if they experience something major. Something like an insight they’d like to discuss, or some ‘problem’ that they are struggling to apply their wisdom to.
Those sessions always tend to be efficient ones, where we both speak a common language and it’s like we’re searching for a key. Sessions with more advanced students often end suddenly, when our discussion triggers the insight required. Then they’d be off. The search for one of those keys was why she had contacted me to go for lunch a few months before the pandemic started.
“I feel great,” she said. And she looked great. She’d lost weight, changed her hair, she carried herself with a stronger, more graceful posture. Most importantly, she had an air of confidence about her. Not snobbishness or haughtiness, just a self-assured quality.
“But I’m confused. Before I looked like this, I didn’t get much attention from men. I couldn’t even believe Ken noticed me when he did. But now…. Now men seem to everywhere.”
I confirmed, “You do look great. But do you think more of them are coming around because of that? Or do you think they were always there, but you never saw yourself in their league, so you never noticed each other before?”
“Hmmm. I’m not sure. I would have thought there were more of them, but now that you mention it, some of those guys have been at my gym for a long time.”
I sat back and let myself ‘be’ with what she’d told me. “Could it be that you just feel more ah… maybe ‘deserving?’ Or ‘acceptable?’ Something between those two words? If you feel elevated your horizons naturally grow. Maybe those men were just over the horizon of who you thought you were before you took the course?”
She seemed like she could buy that. “But what do I do about that? A lot of these guys are hot, but it’s not like there’s anything wrong with Ken. He’s not James Bond, but he’s a great guy who doesn’t deserve to get hurt. But he’s also not… I don’t know… exciting?”
She looked like she felt bad for having that view of him. “Now there’s all of these other guys showing interest and I’m starting to wonder if I settled. Did I have low self esteem and settle for a nice guy, but not the right guy?”
I winced. “I don’t love the term, ‘right’ guy. Every human being is capable of loving any other human being. We just have thoughts that we put between us. It’s like we’re permeable gas balls with skins of thought that keeps us from connecting. The skins are made of thought, so when we lower our thinking, the walls of our ball gets permeable and we can connect. But we can do that with any ball, not just some ‘right’ one.”
She said she accepted that, deep down, every human being was capable of loving each other. But her issue was practical. She only had so much time available in her life. “Okay. So let’s say Ken’s equal to these other guys. That still doesn’t tell me what to do.”
“Your actions will flow from whichever thoughts you choose to activate. So pay attention to the thoughts. Are these other guys really equal to Ken when they’re unknown entities? Were you unhappy with Ken before these guys made their advances? Would you be as happy with them over time?”
“No. Ken’s great. We’ve been happy in that way that settled-in people can be passively okay. Maybe ‘secure’ is the right word?”
I nodded my understanding. She trusted Ken would be there for her. “So, you have limited time in your life. The question is, do you spend it shooting frames of life-time in a movie starring you and Ken? Or do you spend it shooting frames with a bunch of men who have shown recent interest in you? But just remember that if you go for the new guys, then you lose Ken. So the real question is, is what you get in return worth losing Ken over?”
She frowned. That was not a calculation she wanted to include. “What do you think?” But the second she said it she knew how I would respond.
“I’m not you, nor am I living your life. I know you’re fine either way as long as you maintain your awareness.” Realizing that was true did ease some of her tension. With her mind in a more open state, I added one other missing calculation.
“I think it’s at least worth noting that these other guys showed up when your hotness meter went up. Ken liked you before you even liked yourself. It is possible that the new guys are mostly interested in the changes you’ve made, and that Ken is more interested in the person who made those changes?”
She looked like something hit her. She jumped up, ready for action. “That’s it. That’s what I came to hear. You always say some… ‘thing’ that sticks with me and helps me understand what I’m really doing. And I just realized that I’ve always wanted to be thin and hot. So I love that these guys love these new thin, hot parts of me. But you’re right.
“Ken doesn’t love the girl that came out of the gym. He loved the one that went in. So if I ever fall backwards, Ken would still be there. These other guys might seem more attractive to me right now, but if I didn’t look like I do now, would I be as attractive to them as I am to Ken? I know the stress of not feeling like you’re good enough. I never worry about whether Ken’s okay with me. I have faith in that.”
“What’s that worth to you?” I asked.
“It’s worth me calling Ken right now. I must be crazy for even thinking about this.” She made the international sign language for ‘I need my bill’ to the waiter.
“You’re not crazy. In a way, you just fell in love with him all over again. That’s good –and necessary really- for any healthy relationship.”
“I got so fixated on getting something I’d always wanted that I almost forgot to calculate what I had. Thank you!”
“No problem. It’s easier for me. I don’t have the attachments you do. And like Ken, I have have more faith in you than you do.” We shared smiles while she paid the bill.
She got up and hugged me, then grabbed her coat and started to head off to make her call. I called after her. “Don’t forget to pass on my congratulations.”
“For what?” She asked.
“His great taste in women.”
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.