If you try to tell me you are absolutely satisfied with the way your life unfolds, I won’t believe you. In order to be alright with everything that happens to you, or with yourself, you must be either Buddha, or a lunatic. And since I never was any of these (or even both), from time to time I felt that in my 30s I was a wasted scrap of a human being. During such periods, I started to behave like a machine, limited my social interactions to a necessary minimum, and simply waited until another day was over. To a certain point, it helped.
No need to say we are surrounded by stressful situations; we must adapt to them, and then act (or react) in an appropriate way in order to overcome obstacles. This is what we usually call experience. The trick is that all people have different pain thresholds, so to say: while you may feel completely comfortable working in an office for 14 hours a day for a moderate salary, your friend could suffer from having to prepare for exams in a college. These situations affect us differently; someone can live a life like that, and someone needs to take breaks. And that’s what happened to me.
To start with, I had to pay loans. If you live in the USA, you know people have to pay all kinds of loans, in addition to all kinds of taxes and all kinds of charges. I would be okay with paying my loans if the crisis of 2008 did not mess up my plans and did not drive me into a hardcore mode of existence. Working long days, returning home and working on freelance jobs until late in the night, a couple of hours of sleep and back to work again—that is how my life looked like for several years in a row. No personal life or relationships, no leisure, no social contacts except those at work. No time to think about what was going on with me.
My job and money were not the only trouble. At some point, I started to notice that things which I didn’t pay attention to started to annoy me. Popular music on the radio, commercials wherever I would glance, talk-shows on TV, trendy socialization, people perceiving the world through the displays of their iPads, corporate culture, a hypocritical government, the cult of happy consumption—it all turned into a permanent irritant. Anytime I would open my Facebook profile, I’d see people trying to prove their worthiness and richness of their inner world by all possible means. One day I realized that my Twitter feed was full of useless information and meaningless comments.
More and more often I recalled the lines from Ray Bradbury’s “451 Fahrenheit,” when Guy Montag suddenly realized that people around him consumed nonsense, talked nonsense, and advertised nonsense.
So I realized that I needed a rest. Unexpectedly for myself, one day I quit. I came to the office, turned on my desktop, opened a Word document, and wrote a resignation letter. In two weeks, I was jobless. I exchanged contacts with people whom I wanted to maintain a relationship with, and then deleted my social media accounts. I sold my TV, my tablet (I wonder now: who would ever need a tablet?), all that rubbish suddenly started to look useless. I canceled my freelance orders, revised my eating and lifestyle habits, and stopped communicating with people whom I did not like. Having no idea what to do next, I slowly spent my savings and just lived life.
One day when I was jogging (I delayed this activity for almost seven years!) my eyes fell on a poster with beautiful snowy mountains, colorful banners and flags, and temples. The writing said something about seasonal discounts for one-way tickets to Tibet. When I repeated that information vocally, I felt like a small dam in my head suddenly dissolved, and a confluence of images, thoughts, and associations connected to Tibet flooded my mind. I thought that I saw a new direction; and though it was very unlike me, I made my decision in no time and bought that ticket. Having no idea where I would live there or what I was going to do, I only knew that something new was awaiting me there. As my further experience manifested, I was not mistaken.
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