We’re told attachments aren’t good, but you might be surprised
They say we are not meant to have attachments — to outcome, to things, or to bird eggs hatching. But let’s face it, that’s just not reality. We can get attached to lots of things, like feelings (hopefully the good ones).
And I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.
They can be indicators that help us reroute when things are going off course — reminders that things have gone awry, that there’s another way to do life in this moment.
Take the week before last for example.
Here’s the scene: It started with this precious nest. Weeks prior I had noticed a flurry of tiny birds fluttering about a newly hung flower pot on my front porch. Low and behold, within a few days there was a nest followed by 3 itty bitty eggs and a posse of protective Mama birds squawking at us every time we came through the front door. It was actually quite remarkable because I had never witnessed anything like it.
I grew attached and I grew excited. I think I also assigned some deeper meaning to it as well.
I tried to assure Mama she was safe and that we would not harm her. Every day that I spotted her flying in and out of the nest felt like a gift. I anxiously awaited the hatching. I’d been down this path many times before and had witnessed the predatory nature of the animal kingdom. But this time I was hopeful.
Each morning I took my selfie stick and extended it up high above to capture an update. For weeks there were 3 eggs. For weeks Mama came and went. Hatching was imminent…until abruptly, it wasn’t. One morning the nest was empty. No Mama. No eggs. No remnants. Gone. Birds don’t hatch and fly away instantly. A sadness overtook me.
Simultaneously, in between checking in with my bird’s nest, I had been burning the candle at both ends and determined that I could get it all done in I-am-woman-hear-me-roar fashion. It was graduation week for my son, I had to travel 2 days prior to conduct an upcoming magazine interview, had to lead a panel discussion upon my return, ready myself for my family to descend upon my house for the weekend and prep for a party…oh, and deal with a sentimental emotion or two! Get the point?
I set myself up for something that even Wonder Woman wouldn’t have been able to finesse. In my people-pleasing, type A, I can handle it all way, I chose to take this all on. Needless to say, I hit a wall (a big ol’ brick one). It’s a familiar wall. My head has hit it before. But luckily this emotional meltdown came the week before all of the above-mentioned events. Luckily, I hit that wall in time to do something proactive, something different than lamenting about it all after the fact.
Aside from being exhausted and feeling like I was running around mindlessly checking things off a to-do list — I was literally depleting myself, body, mind and spirit. I sacrificed a little self-care here and a little self-care there in the name of getting things done. Yes, you can imagine where this lead me…feeling as devoid as this nest. My red flag came in the realization that I simply wasn’t having any fun — I wasn’t enjoying the ride. I had taken this all on. I had made the choice to do so…therefore, I could also make the choice to perceive and thus experience it all differently. Right?
At the end of the day, all I truly wanted was to be present and to savor the events unfolding. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
Isn’t that the purpose of life — to be here now, to be present, to be purposeful, to experience, to impact and to feel? I desired to bask in the tenderness of the moments, but instead got lost in the minutiae. That’s a slippery slope that’s difficult to rebound from. Yes, details matter, but not to the detriment of our life’s experience.
I couldn’t control the fact that the eggs went missing, that Mother Nature had other plans (as is the case with so many things in life) — but I could take control of how I responded to it. Would it set the stage for disappointment and feeling like the glass was ½ empty, or not? Would I approach my full calendar with enthusiasm and gratitude for a full life — or would I allow overwhelm and out-of-control emotional outbursts to occupy the driver’s seat?
I felt where I was heading and desperately needed a reboot…so I simply cried, let the pressure brewing within out and declared that I was taking back the reins on this one. I wanted to have fun.
I wanted to laugh and enjoy and feel and experience all that was upon me — not get caught up in the logistical details. That also meant that in doing so, I had to relinquish the control and attachment to perfection. It also meant that I had to attend to my emotional needs: to feel what was unfolding, to call forth tools and to soothe myself.
That also meant that I had to be OK with the fact that perhaps the house would be a bit messier than I’d like. Maybe we’d run out of food at the party or maybe we’d have too much. Maybe nothing would be perfect. And yet, in releasing that attachment to perfection and control, I could simply settle into the love, the joy, the whimsy and playfulness — and all of the deep emotion that was brewing up. Yeah, I think ‘feeling those feels’ and desiring the playful nature of myself is my new attachment.
That’s perfection — experiencing life in all of its messiness and glory, accepting the pieces and parts of ourselves.
And one last parting sentiment: This isn’t all about clicking our heels and thinking happy thoughts. It takes action to reroute and to be cognizant — to connect the dots of your being. It’s about honoring what’s brewing deep within and heeding that call. We can’t control all that goes down in our lives, but we can control our own thoughts, words and actions. And those are powerful tools that can shift not only our world, but the world for others around us. It’s the stuff that being your best self is made of. Go on, attach to that!
As always, I love hearing from you. Where do you attach (or not), how do you navigate these waters? Let us know in the comments below. God knows, it takes a village to navigate this human experience — I’m glad you’re a part of ours!