One of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia, talks about how you have to be delusional to make it in stand up. That his first paid gig was a nightmare, but somehow he believed it was amazing. I think that kind of delusion can be a fantastic driving force for some people, but for me it’s just a way to be content.
The interview with the Peace Corps went well enough, but for some reason I was more nervous than I should have been. I stressed over it a lot, before during and after. Then I remembered Mike. I choose to believe it was awesome, that I am who they are looking for, and that everything will work out perfectly. Delusion, or faith. There isn’t always a big difference between the two.
I think the idea is that delusion is harmful, that we suffer from it. Faith is supposed to be a calm driving force, conviction based on experience, or the answers we find in life. In the Buddhist tradition, delusion is one of the three poisons, not experiencing things as they truly are, but as a reflection of ourselves. When you strip away the delusion of self, of desire, and of all that we have be taught, then we find the Truth. I wonder if that is really faith, or if faith is still just a word we use to describe something impossible to imagine or understand, whether it is God or simply the Truth.
I remember someone once telling me, in that tone people use when they truly believe in what they are saying, that if you asked the Buddha or Christ what Truth is, they would be silent. He thought that Truth cannot be taught or given, it must be found by each individual. I doubt that is completely true, but every glimpse of any greater truth has always been spectacularly simple. Like Buddhism itself, so simple that it is almost impossible to believe.
The answers are given to us every day, just work out and eat healthy, just practice and you’ll learn, just get over it. The problem isn’t in the simplicity of the answer, or of the Truth, but in the effort. Dedication and time. Stop thinking about her when she abandons you, at first for a second, then for a few seconds, then minutes, days, weeks. She will always be there, but with dedication and time you can avoid the pain that no longer has any value in your life.
Just move to Mexico, teach English, start a new life. It’s as simple as that. But the choice must be made again and again, before, during, and after you move. It’s easy to give up, and I have more than once, choosing the predictable life over the chaos of traveling out here. I started the Peace Corps application two or three times, completed it twice, and got nominated once before this attempt. There were reasons, but the Truth is that I chose to stay, for love, fear, or despair.
But I kept at it, became stronger, and here I am. There is nothing holding me back anymore, and if I am offered a chance to go anywhere I will take it, at least that’s what I believe. I am here, far from home, without the connections or reliance on a steady paycheck I once had. I am here, learning, practicing, and fighting my demons. I don’t really know where I’m going, or what will happen, but I have faith that I will go somewhere wonderful and amazing. And when the dark times come, hopefully I’ll be able to look back on them with a bit of delusion.
East Eye Mountain Forest Recreation Area: