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Killing the Buddha

It had to happen sooner or later – I had to cross over the halfway point of my life. I turned 40. And I’ll be honest – I’d been dreading it. It seems so OLD! My life HALF over – GASP! But now that I’m here – it’s really strange – I’m perfectly calm and happy. Something amazing has happened – I let go of all those other people’s dreams and started embracing mine.

I’m done with the search for some man to “complete me.” I’m pretty complete as I am. And I know damn well that no one can bring you anything that you don’t already have. I’m stopping that fruitless search and turning all my terrific energy on writing more, learning more, thinking more, and becoming the best I can be. Heck, I’ve only got another 25 or so good years left (and that’s if I make it that long!). I don’t have time to waste! I only wish I could have all the time and energy back that I’ve wasted on bad dates and bad relationships! What the hell was I thinking?

Sure, it would be great to have a wonderful relationship, but after trying so hard to make it happen, I realized I can’t. I can’t force myself to fall in love with someone I’m not into any more than I can force a man to fall in love with me. There are some things in our lives that no matter how much effort we put into them, are just not going to be the way we want them to be. At some point we have to stop slamming our heads against the wall.

What about you? No matter where you are on life’s journey, once a day has passed, you will never have it again. And no one has the answer for how you should spend that day except you. Advertisers will say you should spend that day driving your SUV to the mall and loading it up with lots of stuff. Then you should eat a big meal out. You should be doing this with your two perfect children and your perfect spouse. You should return to your recently redecorated home and have abs of steel and sparkly white teeth. You should spend the evening happily watching endless reality shows because your own life is way too boring to engage you.

Advertisers aren’t the only ones who will tell you how to live – there are a million self-help gurus out there. One of my favorite books is titled “If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!” The author, Dr. Sheldon Kopp, is a psychotherapist who says in the text, “The most important things that each man must learn no one else can teach him. Once he accepts this disappointment, he will be able to stop depending on the therapist, the guru who turns out to be just another struggling human being.” In other words – WAKE UP! Who are you and what do you want for your life? If you want to drive around in your SUV buying more stuff – go ahead! But do it because it’s making you truly happy, not because “everybody’s doing it” or you’re just bored. I always thought I had to have a man in my life to be happy, but the truth is, few relationships have been worth giving up my freedom. I really like doing what I want to do whenever I want to do it. I agree with Gloria Steinem who said, “I think the truth is that finding ourselves brings more excitement and well-being than anything romance has to offer.” Success in life comes from knowing who you are and what works for you. Luckily, as we get older, we get better at this. Goodbye youth, hello wisdom and self-awareness!

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