There is an old story about a man who came to see the Buddha because he had heard that the Buddha was a great teacher. Like all of us, he had some problems in his life, and he thought the Buddha might be able to help him straighten them out.
He told the Buddha that he was a farmer. "I like farming," he said, "but sometimes it doesn't rain enough, and my crops fail. Last year we nearly starved. And sometimes it rains too much, so my yields aren't what I'd like them to be."
The Buddha listened patiently to the man.
"I'm married, too," said the man. "She's a good wife, but sometimes she nags me too much. And sometimes I get tired of her."
The Buddha listened quietly.
"I have kids," said the man. "Good kids, too, but sometimes they don't show me enough respect. And sometimes…."
The man went on like this, laying out all of his difficulties and worries. Finally he wound down and waited for the Buddha to say the words that would put everything right for him.
Instead, the Buddha said, "I can't help you."
"What do you mean?" said the astonished man.
"Everybody's got problems," said the Buddha. "In fact, we've all got eighty-three problems, each one of us. Eighty-three problems, and there's nothing you can do about it. If you work really hard on one of them, maybe you can fix it–but if you do, another one will pop right into its place. For example, you're going to lose your loved ones eventually. And you're going to die someday. Now there's a problem, and there's nothing you, or I, or anyone else can do about it."
The man became furious. "I thought you were a great teacher!" he shouted. "I thought you could help me! What good is your teaching then?"
The Buddha said, "Well, maybe it will help you with the eighty-fourth problem."
"The eighty-fourth problem?" said the man. "What's the eighty-fourth problem?"
Said the Buddha, "You want to not have any problems."
I need a little Buddha doll to carry with me, and when I press his belly he'll say, "take a deep breath and let it go. Let. It. Go." Because no matter how much I meditate on it, how much I work on it, I still find myself falling into looping traps where I will get stressed and then beat myself up for it and then stress about that until it starts to feel like an infinite loop. The problems won't go away. I can work on the necessary ones, but I need to let the rest go, I need to breathe and not let things I can't control make me lose site of the things that are important, the reminder that those are the good things.
Tried to brush my hair this morning with the hairbrush I broke yesterday and I sort of lost control of it an accidentally flung it into the toilet. Which was really such a comedic moment that I'm almost sorry no one was there to see it. The hairbrush flew in sort of slow motion as I grabbed after it trying to catch it before the clearly inevitable conclusion. It is sort of sad that I don't have my own reality show, but then again probably most people don't find these things as funny as I do.
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