What do you need but not want?

Beautiful beautiful flowers bloom by Min AnA lot of the things I offer to the world are a ‘hard sell’.

Nobody skips happily to see me for psychotherapy, where they pay money to feel horrible. People are understandably sceptical of our form of Buddhism, which encourages us to acknowledge our foolishness and to open to the Other. My latest book is called ‘What Helps‘, and buying it means acknowledging even a smidgen of vulnerability or need. The wonderfulness of 12 step groups is like the sweet milk of a coconut which you have to get open with your bare hands.

Why don’t I start selling quick fixes and chocolate instead? Actually, going into the chocolate business is tempting…

I sell the things I sell because they’ve helped me beyond measure. I owe my life to them. And I want to pass them on.

In my experience, what I think I want is often not the best solution. ‘Be careful what you wish for’. Receiving affirmation for my writing, a bag of chips on a bad day, more money… getting these sorts of things in the past has always turned out to be a poor substitute for nourishment, or at best a mixed blessing.

Unfortunately, I have also found that the things I most need are often the last things I think I want. My body lays me low with flu, because it can’t find any other way of stopping me. I have a horrible time with a colleague, because there’s no other way to be shown a neglected part of myself which is desperate for attention. I face a fear, and feel a huge weight leave me.

I used to think that we should force ourselves and each other into these uncomfortable ‘it’ll be good for you’ activities, but now I trust that we enter into them at a pace which is safe and sensible for us. Sometimes it takes years for people to come along to the temple for the first time – that is as it should be. There’s no point in taking the medicine if we’re not yet able to ‘keep it down’.

What can we do? We can notice what we think we want, and wonder about what we might need. We can pay attention to the way the Universe keeps pointing us in the same direction, and take a step. We can be gentle with ourselves when we find our limits, and patiently “…trust in the slow work of God” (Teilhard).

We can celebrate the blossoms when they appear, in ourselves and in others. They are so beautiful!


Gratitude for ‘Beautiful beautiful flower bloom’ by Min An from Pexels