Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Just get it out of your head

When we let go of fear and insecurity,
we find that which remain are experiences.
Simply experiences to know oneself in another way.
(Simram Singh)

"What's the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?", my 12 year old son asked me out of the blue the other day. I panicked for a moment, knowing well that I probably won't remember the most embarrassing episodes for the reason that they are probably just too painful to remember. But then I recollected a bunch of painful memories and rattled them off without giving much thought to the question which in fact might be the most painful one.

This was the anecdote I started with: I was in a public restroom at graduate school and for some reason had developed the habit of putting paper on the toilet seat for hygiene purposes. My trousers were a little big for me as I had lost some weight in those days and so it happened that I got up some paper stuck to my belt, hanging out for everyone visible to see. One Korean student must have seen it as I walked by but didn't say anything. It was then my girlfriend who said, "eh, you have something hanging there." That was a really painful memory but quite frankly no one remembers it any longer, so who cares, right?

My son said, "what else?" I told him a few other stories, for example when I didn't recognize a colleague and mistook him for an outside speaker and introduced myself to him, or when at the elevator instead of opening it for my boss I pushed the wrong button and in fact closed it. The more he asked, the more boring the stories got, for me anyway. Yet I remember that at the time when they happened I was devastated by every single one of them, whereas today they seem even too boring to write them down.

I sometimes think that soap operas have life exactly down. No matter how painfully embarrassing a situation might be, in the next episode all is forgiven and forgotten, just as in real life. Afterwards my son showed me a tv show that makes that point quite nicely, it is called The Impractical Jokers in which four guys try to embarrass each other in front of the camera. When you think about it, all the displeasure if something doesn't quite works out comes from the ego. "So what!", we could say to ourselves. Soon this foul sensation will be forgiven and forgotten while the facade of the idea called "I" has taken another blow along the demolition course. Viewed like that, what is there to fear? Just get it out of your head.

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