We go through life doing stuff that we find enjoyable.
But we do not see the damage that we sustain in the process. In fact, many never realize the destructiveness of their actions.
We encourage others to follow in our path. And this is simply something that we pass on because others encouraged us down the same path.
What is this path?
It is the seeking, the constant seeking, of pleasure, of titillation, of entertainment outside.
When my parents were living a retired life in Bangalore, I would encourage them to go out more, to go to movies and concerts and sports events. “Don’t sit at home and get bored,” I urged them.
I was an idiot. Perhaps I still am.
Take a harmless, innocuous action like watching a thriller. A good thriller. One where the suspense builds up and there is a satisfying and unexpected denouement.
You feel good afterward. Perhaps you even decide to search for more movies by the same director.
What you don’t notice is that you have set your mind jangling. It will take quite some time to settle down again. And it may never do so because you generally find something else to get it vibrating again.
Your mind is like an exquisitely constructed tuning fork. Once you set it vibrating, it will take a long time to come back to rest. If you keep striking it, it will never return to a stationary state.
What is sad is that you do not notice this.
Mom had to go out, so Dad was tasked with looking after Junior. Junior was four and a bundle of energy.
Dad wanted to watch the ball game. He played with Junior for a while and then told him to occupy himself.
Cautiously he turned on the TV and was delighted when Junior did not promptly ask for his attention.
The game got exciting. Dad was absorbed. His team was behind but making a comeback.
Junior came to him and gave him a spoonful of water. “This is beer, Daddy,” he said. “Do you like it?”
“Best beer I ever had,” said Dad.
Encouraged, Junior kept giving Dad spoonful after spoonful of beer.
Mom returned and watched for a while.
“Do you recognize that the only water Junior can reach is in the toilet bowl?” she inquired.
Dad promptly threw up.
That’s the way it works.
When you realize, truly realize, what is happening, what you are doing to yourself, you stop.
So, am I telling you to drop all forms of entertainment? To stop watching movies and reading books or traveling for vacation or getting excited about new hobbies or pastimes?
Not at all.
You will be unable to stop even if you wanted to.
The tuning fork is vibrating so strongly that you cannot bring it to a standstill right away.
What you can do is become aware that it is vibrating. You can discern what activities get it even more disturbed and refrain from them.
And gradually, gradually you may be able to still the monster that is wreaking havoc in your life.
Think about it.