Suffering: ‘The deep desire to force our lives to change and avoid accepting it first, for what it is’.

– Kirti Daryanani

Watch your thoughts. Watch them. That’s what Kirti – one of those humans who inspire me – used to tell me. And I wouldn’t have a clue of what she meant by that.

My mind tried to play tricks. It still tries to play tricks. Jumping into analyses mode or an otherwise engaging mode. But now, ever more often, I’m starting to ‘watch my thoughts’. And I see clearer now, that often how I react is based on my thoughts. Thoughts I have about what is real. This sounds quite obvious, I realize, but it’s not. Not really. If you really think about it, or, maybe better, if you really watch your mind.

Either way, I’m confronted again and again with how this truth works for others too. There are so many examples I could give. Examples about others. About a teacher whose ideas about his pupils affect his ways of dealing with his pupils, about an acquaintance who was taught in school about the existence of human races and therefor still, to some extent, holds that to be true, about….. Well, maybe one day, I will share those stories too. But for now, let me turn to myself and write about me, instead of pointing at others.

Let me take you back to Easter Sunday.

It was a sunny day – well, duh I was in Curaçao – and I didn’t have plans for that day except for a late lunch with Ang and his fam. So, when I woke up from my sleep, I felt an enormous space in time. A space to do whatever I felt like doing. I decided to go to the beach. After all, I had been longing to go to the beach since I arrived in Curaçao. I felt like wanting company, so I texted some friends. I also asked in my instagram story if someone felt like joining me. But those who responded had just arrived home from a night out, were baking cheesecakes for Eastern brunch, or were saying goodbye to friends who were flying back home from a vacation in Curaçao.

I decided to go me, myself and I.

I jumped in my rental grey Lancer and hit the road. Mayra Andrade in my ears, the wind caressing my skin. I was on my way to one of my favorite beaches: Daaibooi. But first, the usual stop at Daniël’s snack for a fresh coconut.

Daniel’s snack is on the way to the beaches on the west side of Curaçao. Stopping at Daniël’s is what most do on their way to one of those beaches. I enjoyed seeing and hearing people come and go, while I was patiently drinking and later eating the coconut. The man helping me at the counter helped me in the friendliest way. And when I was done drinking, and asked him to cut the coconut open, I saw that most others only drank the juice. He seemed to appreciate that I did want to eat the coconut, and helped me patiently, handing me over a napkin and a spoon.

It seemed like everyone was in the best mood that day, joking around, laughing, ordering their drinks and snacks. And there it started. Suddenly I found myself in a train of thoughts.

‘They are having so much fun together. I’m only by myself. Why don’t I have a group of friends to do this with. Why doesn’t Ang like doing things like these? I want to enjoy the outdoors with friends too.’

I caught myself thinking these thoughts and the thoughts stopped, turning my mind to other things to think of.

I hopped back in my car and continued my way. Not much later I was surprised to see that the beach wasn’t as busy as I had expected it to be. Still, I found groups of families and friends laughing, eating, BBQ-ing, swimming and playing games, some of them even having set up tents. I walked towards an older couple sitting under a palapa and asked them if I could leave my bag with them. A couple of minutes later I was floating in the sea, alternately closing my eyes and looking at the sky, closing my eye and looking at the sky.

Skies aren’t blue, I thought, they are ever changing colors. And I closed my eyes again.

After a while I moved into a vertical position and started water treading. I was now looking from a greater distance at the groups of families and friends at the beach. It took me back to gatherings with my family in Cape Verde, where we would spend time together eating, laughing, singing, talking, swimming.

Then my mind took a run with me again.

‘They are having so much fun together. I’m only by myself. Why don’t I have a group of friends to do this with. Why doesn’t Ang like doing things like these? I want to enjoy the outdoors with friends too.’

I noticed myself thinking these thoughts, and suddenly it hit me: if I want it, I can create it. I decided to ask Ang for us to organize a beach BBQ together with friends and family.

The point of this whole story? It has me wondering. I knew nothing about the people I saw that day on my way to the beach and at the beach. Nor do I know anything about how they were experiencing that day. Still my mind made a story – a reality – about what it saw, eventually even leading me to actually act on that reality by asking Ang for us to organize a beach BBQ.

And that has me wondering about Kirti’s definition of suffering: ‘the deep desire to force our lives to change and avoid accepting it first, for what it is’.

Is that what I was doing? Wanting to change, before accepting it first? I’m not sure. We’re going to have the BBQ anyways. Or not ;).