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18. grasping

Imagine your home is on fire. All of your loved ones and yourself made it out – no one is injured or hurt. You have time to run back in to grab one thing – what would you retrieve?

When I first heard this question, my immediate answer was – nothing. I wouldn’t risk going back into the fire for anything if my loved ones and myself were already safe. My health is my wealth, anything lost in the fire, I can regain.

But what if you knew you would be safe? That you had just enough time to run back and get one thing – what would you retrieve?

I thought long and hard, and still… I wasn’t able to think of anything specific, and then – my phone. I would grab my smart phone, realizing that I assumed the phone was a part of my being already. Isn’t that crazy? I assumed that the smartphone made it out of the home with me and my loved ones simply because I always have it around with me.

For many of us, our smartphones are always with us, they are an extension of ourselves, a digital limb. But everything I have on my phone, exists somewhere else – my social media accounts, my bank accounts, my emails, my photos, my data, my files. So what does it mean to go back and save such a physical thing?

It means I am clinging to some idea that my phone should make it out of that fire. That having the phone with all its stuff is going to be a lot easier (first to call the firefighters!) than not having it. But if I had to choose between being perfectly healthy today without my phone, I would choose health over and over, again and again.

Running back into the home, we understand how futile it is to try and grab anything at all. Our hands, afterall, are only so big (mine are particularly petite!). What do we grab? What do we hold on to?

Zooming out from this example, we realize we hold onto a lot of things in our minds. We are always mentally grasping for ideas, thoughts, fantasies – how my life was supposed to be, who that perfect romantic partner is, what the perfect job or salary is, etc.

When we realize how small our capacity is to grasp things in real life, and can translate that finiteness into our minds and how we think about the world, we can realize how much more space and freedom we can give ourselves. We so often worry ourselves sick, we hold onto bad experiences, negative memories and thoughts and emotions… we cling to them in our minds not thinking that we are standing in a home on fire, unable to make it out because we have too much in our grasp. Let go.

What would you save from the fire? What are you holding onto that is causing you to suffer?

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