As Soon As You Care, You Lose, or The Difference Between Hungry and Starving
Non-attachment is a pretty big thing for the Buddhists. The nice kids at Wikipedia define non-attachment as “freedom from lust, craving and desires.” The basic idea here is that when you’re lusting after something — a person, a thing, even a concept — you suffer. You also tend to do a lot of stupid, crazy things in response.
You suffer while you’re lusting after it and you suffer when you see someone else who has it and you even suffer when you have it because you might lose it at any time.
Non-attachment is all well and good, but it’s pretty hard to achieve. I’m fairly attached to my husband, for example. If he were to up and walk out, I don’t think I would handle it very well. I’m attached to this business. If it blew up in front of my eyes, I’d probably be pretty pissed. If my dog were to get hit by a bus, I can pretty safely say that the first words out of my mouth would not be, “So it goes.”
So while it’s probably a good idea to reduce the number of things to which you are fanatically attached, it’s unreasonable to expect a normal, flawed, non-monk to achieve this feat on any kind of a regular basis.
What you can achieve, though, is the impression of non-attachment.
I saw a lot of begging at a conference I recently attended. It wasn’t begging for stuff. It was begging for love and approval and acceptance. Love and approval and acceptance are good. The love and approval and acceptance you have to beg for are not.
One particular instance stood out in my mind. I overheard someone pretty desperately saying, “I just can’t let them think that I’m just a ___________! I have to explain it to them!” They went on to think about the ways they could improve their elevator pitch so that people would know exactly how awesome their offering was. And I imagined them tracking someone down and pinning them to the wall while they explain, crazed-lunatic style, exactly who they are and exactly what they do. Yikes.
Elevator speeches freak me out a little bit, actually. As the number of people trying to throw their panties at you increases, the number of super spiffy elevator pitches increases, too. Sometimes I long for people to just cut to the chase and say what they do.
Because when you think about it, a perfectly honed answer to “what do you do?” sounds a little contrived. A little artificial. And a little “I spend more time thinking about how to tell people what I do than I do actually doing it”.
I think about meeting Richard Branson at a party. (Yes, of course I think about this. Don’t you?) And I think about what I would say to him. I imagine asking him what he does for a living. And I imagine him answering, “I run a company called Virgin.” If I were to imagine myself at a party with Bill Gates, which for the record I do not, I would imagine I’d imagine him saying, “I run a software company.” (Yes, that was an all-out butchery of the English language. I just want to make it very clear that I don’t spend my time dreaming up party chatter with Bill Gates. Branson, yes. Gates, no.)
Dick and Bill don’t care what you think. They’re not going to be an jerk to you, I hope, but they’re not there to beg for your approval or your business, either. They’re there to go to a party.
As soon as you care, you lose.
I like hungry people. I do. I like the hustle, the fire, the drive. They remind me of me back when I was idealistic.
Starving people make me uncomfortable. They make me want to turn away. They remind me of me back when I was, well, starving.
Hungry people want you to date them. Starving people need you to date them.
Hungry people want a sandwich. Starving people need a sandwich.
Hungry people want you to do business with them. Starving people need you to do business with them.
When you’re hungry, you would like a certain outcome, but you’re not going to do something awful or demeaning or immoral to get it. When you’re starving, all bets are off. Starving people are wearing a big, neon shirt that says, “LOOSE CANNON”.
Do not corrupt yourself to secure a guest post slot. (It will never do what you think it’ll do for you anyway.) Do not compromise what’s important to you to gain a new client. (The clients you have to turn yourself into knots for are usually the jerks.) And do not ruin a perfectly good party begging for approval from the cool kids. (They’re not that cool.)
And cut yourself some slack on the elevator pitch.