by Stacy Hoch for Elephant Journal
She sent me a message that said she doesn’t know how I keep all of my sh*t together and that she’s happy for me and envious at the same time.
She’s always wanted a baby and she figured by the age of 32 she’d be married with three kids. She’s now considering that her vision might not be in the cards for her.
My response moved through my fingers as if someone else had taken over:
I never wanted this. I never expected it. I was trying to survive my whole life, I wasn’t thinking of one day when I’d grow up and get married and have kids with a white picket fence. I thought I’d be dead by the time I was 17. When I made it to 18 I figured I’d better start creating something.
I think it comes easier for me to fill up on amazing things because I never had any preconceived notion of how or that they would come in the first place. I never tainted all of the avenues in which they could come by being so attached to how it looked that I shut down other possibilities. I knew how I wanted to feel, and I kept feeling…that.
I often say that I’d never let my love (for one person) stand in the way of my lifestyle. I’d always choose feeling “happy” over feeling “love” if the love was madness. This notion actually adds to the extent of which I’m capable of loving because it’s free love, it is a choice. I want to be there.
So often I see people choosing “love” over “happiness” as if they’re stuck in love. They are often the same people that fall in love but have trouble staying in love.
Clients come in with a story that’s already embedded in every one of their neuro-pathways that “this is how a relationship should be” or “this is what is true about relationships” or “I’m in this relationship but can’t accept this, this, and this, about it.”
To my demise and benefit, I didn’t have examples of the kind of relationship that I would want, so I never got stuck on needing to have one. I never had childhood day dreams of growing up and being a mother, or wearing a wedding dress. I never considered what kind of work I would do or where I would go.
What I’m proposing is a bit like the monkey trap. Monkeys are captured in India through a bottle that is big enough to fit their hand in and out of, with a banana placed inside. The monkey is so consumed by having the goods inside of the bottle that before a capturer comes to throw a bag over its head, the monkey does not release the banana even though he’s terrified he’s about to get captured. The hole is large enough for the monkey’s hand, but not large enough for his hand and the banana together. The monkey gives up his life for the sake of hanging on to this stupid banana when if he’d just let go, he’d be free.
That banana is emblematic of the projections I see so many people hanging onto about what their life “should” look like.
“My relationship should look like this so I’m failing to enjoy the relationships I’m in”.
“I should have kids by this time so I’m using my energy to be envious.”
“I should have a nicer home by now, so I can’t stand to come to my own sanctuary every day.”
The list is endless—and it’s all just bananas.
That monkey could go into the wilderness and get a better banana, for free, maybe even with enough to go around, but he can’t let go of his attachment to getting this one banana. Beyond the attachment to the banana itself, he can’t let go of what he needs to do to get the banana he wants.
My bananas were somewhere in a vast wilderness, scary as anything, but free from mental captivity of “this is how you get bananas” and “this is the banana I have to have,” so much that I’d give up my essence to obtain it.
Partnerships and motherhood came easy to me, simply because I could take it or leave it. If it came, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing. If it didn’t, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing. If it left, I’d find a way to see it as a blessing.
I never wanted it enough to give up on it completely after a disappointment, and I never completely wanted it enough to give up my true essence for it.
I focused on how I wanted to feel and swung to a different tree if I didn’t feel 100% like myself. In the process of not sitting in the branches hoping for the tree to change or grow me more bananas, of not tainting my life experience with being stuck in the same tree when I could’ve roamed free, or having my hand stuck in someone else’s trap for what my life should feel like, I found a whole forrest with my name written all over it. Here, the bananas are endless.
People miss this part: they miss the thing they’re really wanting. The monkey might want the banana because he’s hungry or because he’s bored. The banana is just a symbol for what he really wants. Food or a toy to play with.
If I wanted a relationship, I found ways to be in an intimate relationship with everyone I knew. I became radically honest and crazy authentic. If I wanted kids, I’d go teach someone else’s kids if I didn’t already have them. If I wanted a better house, I’d say everyday how grateful I am for the one I’ve already got.
I’m not confused about what I want. What I want is to quench my thirst for life. Not having the glass I want to drink it out of isn’t going to stop me from cupping my hands and drinking it from a raging river.
A friend once stuck out her open hand in a cupped position and said, “If I poured water into my hand, how would I keep it?” I stared. She replied, “If I closed my hand to keep the water, it would all slip through my finger tips. The only way I can keep it, is by keeping it open.”
I remained open to how things would come and how things would go. This way of being has led me to places I’d never dare to dream of, inside of myself and inside of my life.
Let go of your bananas.
Drink whatever water tastes good no matter what container it comes in.
It all comes.
This, I promise.
Bonus: To be happy, think of others first. To be unhappy, think only of oneself: