Wednesday, October 1, 2008

ATTACHMENT - Rick Von Feldt

1. What Are you attached to that may ultimately be providing more pain, suffering or negative than than pleasure and benefit? And why do you continue to stay attached?

How do you answer this?
Do you first begin by asking, “where do I feel pain in my life?”
Do you ask “what don’t I like about my life or myself?”

I see so many people who don’t like what they are doing – who they are. Or maybe more specifically – people who want to do something different. But they have attachments. And so I thought it was interesting to look at those attachments.

I think my worst “foe attachment” at the moment is the sense for achievement. For the last 5-10 years, I was attached to the chase for achievement (as measured by my professional climb) and wealth accumulation. Each gave me some strong sense of accomplishments. I still sometimes rely on that when I look backwards. But it is interesting how short lived it can be. Four months ago, I was a vice president. Now, I am just a guy who sits at home in his boxer shorts if he wants to. Four months ago – I had some money. But with the economy – and much of that money in the stock market – I have about 40% less money.

So – those things go away.

A second “attachment” challenge comes in my “list” that ultimately sets about expectation. My brain allows me to think of so many exciting things I want to do. Now that I have time – I have no excuses. But then, I get out my “to do” list – and I see literally hundreds of things I want to do – people I want to communicate with – things I want to try. And soon – even though I am relatively free – I see this huge LIST of things that I want to do.

So – do I just give up the list? Do I just “do” whatever comes to mind at the moment? That would be hard – since at the end of each day, I have this inclination to want to think about what I did (accomplish) for the day. It was the beauty perhaps of what has allowed me to be who I am. But this “attachment” to accomplishment also creates angst in my life. And I am not sure exactly if I like it. Or if I want to get rid of it. None-the-less, it has been a part of my DNA for most of my life. It isn’t going away soon. But it is good for me to be aware of.

2.. Does your “attachment score” at the following survey indicate anything important about your feelings on attachment? (Attachment Survey)

As I started to think about the ten people in this group – I realize that I may not have been as focused on diversity as I should have been. Of the ten people, only two of us are not married. And of the 8 that are married, I think that six of the eight are pretty darn happy about it.

So – I am the odd, unattached, single guy. And the only one who is happy about it. I am the only one of the ten that has not given in to marriage – and attachment to another a serious chance.
I guess it should not be surprising then, that my “attachment indicator” is described as being in the “dismissing” quadrant. The survey says “Previous research on attachment styles indicates that dismissing people tend to prefer their own autonomy--oftentimes at the expense of their close relationships. Although dismissing people often have high self-confidence, they sometimes come across as hostile or competitive by others, and this often interferes with their close relationships.”
You have to know – I admire and appreciate all of those folks out there that just love being in love. Or at least love being a part of “two.” For me – it is just an odd thing. I have hard time attaching myself to “just one.” But that doesn’t mean that I am not attached to friends. As some of my friends hopefully know, I am fair to good in terms of friendship. I just choose not to do it with only one person.

This survey tells me that I am uncomfortable depending upon others. It is true. For me – that attachment has spelled trouble in the past. I have high expectations – and thus, it is easy to create that world myself. Then I don’t have such pressure on my friends. Although I am sure many of my friends would beg to differ. I do expect a lot.

3. Is someone too attached to you?

When I wrote the question – I expected answers from our parental writers to include attachment from their kids. Most of our parents have young children – ranging from 1 to less than 10. It will be interesting to see how these new millennial kids and “helicopter parents” interact with them as they grow older.

As a single person – I have made a more specific choice to not have people attached to me. My personal philosophy, children aside, is that indeed, adults shouldn’t be too attached. I need my space. My freedom. I need the ability for spontaneity. I am there for friends and family as they need me. But if it moves towards “attachment” – it becomes too much for me. And I make the judgment that it is also not good for others.

I have wondered if there is some genetic or spiritual choice that is “given” to us to be either more or less attached to people. For that matter, it is the same for things. Is it somehow in our DNA or part of a karma that we must either appreciate or void?

The other element of attachment that is present indirectly in my life is that of my grandmother. She is 94 years old. And she is attached to my mother – even tethered. This is something my mother never anticipated. It is something that I don’t think any of ever anticipate. As children at the beginning of our lives, we are attached to our parents. And now, living so long in life, we are now facing this attachment to someone in our old days. It is a fear that I have. I will have no choice to be attached one day. Over the next years, I have to think about how I can hire people to be attached to so I won’t burden my family and friends one day.

I will become attached one day. To whom is the question?

4. Share your thoughts on the following quote: “"Suffering finds its roots in your desire to be free from something that's either present for you right now or something that you fear may be present for you in the future . . . Your suffering is directly proportional to the intensity of your attachments to these passing phenomena and to the strength of your habit of seeking for some kind of personal identity in the world of forms." - Chuck Hillig

Based upon the first people writing about this question, this quote clearly said a little more to me than others. For that, I then need to ask myself why this meant something interesting enough to use it as one of my precious questions.

Perhaps it comes from recent discussions with family and friends. Lately, I have been interested in the concept of “dream chasing.” It asks humans to relook at what they dream about doing before they die. Once people sit down and actually think about their dreams – items on a list that many have not thought about for years, it becomes interesting to then ask, “So – what stops you from doing it?”

My recent perspective is that it is “attachments” that threatens people from achieving those dreams. As I scrape away the “why I can’t” – I am starting to see that people are fearful of something that will go away if they start to focus on something else. Often, there is that sense of “I am not sure if I am willing to give up the current, because perhaps the future could be even worse.”

For me, and I also believe for others, the other attachment we often find ourselves focusing on are “expectations.” Somewhere along our way in life, we develop these expectations of “what I though I should do” and “what I thought I should be.” But we get in to the middle of life – and forget to continue to make adjustments on those expectations. Those lingering expectations of what we thought we should or would be doing become attachments that we have to shed in order to reinvent ourselves.

One of the games I play with myself sometimes is “what if?” What other things in life could I be doing if circumstance would not be what they are today. I think I could have been a chef. Or an actor. Or a sales leader. I would be a good teacher. Or a psychologist. But I have attachments to these rules, expectations and even fears in my life that prevent me from believing in those ideas. What would it take for me to become unattached to those ideas and fears?

5. Are you able to get rid of the life you’ve planned, so you can have the life that is waiting for you? (See interesting idea on “core beliefs” by Erza Bayda link below)

I love this notion. Perhaps in asking the question, I was trying to preach. I have walked this talk for much of my career. I love reinvention. I love making the most of the world that I am in. But if I sense one of two things – then I make it my obligation to move on.

First, if I ever feel as if I have “learned most of what I can learn” from any situation, person or place – then I feel obligated to move on. Second, if my soul feels as if it is not inspired or challenged – then I also make myself give up – or become unattached – to those things that have kept me where I am.

I love the idea of reinvention.

But it is a very selfish thought. I make the choice to be single. I know it would be much more difficult if you are a part of a family. Perhaps though, each person in the family could have a designated year for reinvention. Kids included. But remember, I believe in the idea that you have to feel as if you have learned most of what you could learn or your soul yearns to be – do – or try something different.

One last thing. Like Jen, one of my fellow writers, I am a list maker. I love lists. However, I have given up on making “to the end of my life” plans. I have learned that there are too many interesting things and situations out there. I throw myself in to the river of life – and trust that it will bring me to the next exciting learning opportunity. And as of yet, I have not found a company or organization that has been able to harness that creativity and restlessness to keep me around for a long time. Too bad. They could have. But most leaders – managers are so bad at sitting down and understanding the dreams and potentials of their team members that they loose out. Big time.

In one of my lives going forward, I am going to help make that better.

ONE LAST NOTE. I am attached to new tastes! As I write this on a Wednesday evening, I am in San Francisco, eating at a wonderful little restaurant called “Bar Crudo.” Ranked in the top 100 restaurants in San Francisco – and one of Wine Spectators Top 20 in San Francisco, it is a charming small place specializing in the fresh tastes of seafood. I am sitting in a corner, eating wonderful raw fishes and lobster salads. Tables of two and four people all around me buzz with conversation. I try to ignore them. I am on a date with you dear reader. I planed to come here this evening and write about attachment. My work done, I will soon leave, and head to a theatre production of a show called “Rock and Roll.” It is described as, “Nominated for four Tony Awards and direct from record-breaking runs on Broadway, Tom Stoppard's newest sensation, Rock 'n' Roll, hits the A.C.T. stage to smashing reviews. Don't miss this rapturous, decades-spanning tale of passion, politics, and rock music” It should be fun! Have a great week dear readers!


klehoullier said...

Rick -

Thanks for your thoughts. I wanted to offer this perspective on attachment in response.

Attachment is egoic in is identification with anything that takes form in our lives...roles we play (VP of a company, parenting, being single, having certain things, being a certain kind person, etc. etc.) Through these identifications we can mentally separate ourselves from others - see ourselves as unique, different, special, worse, better, victim, hero, etc.

Being unattached isn't attained by rejecting certain roles and not others (in fact choosing to reject a role is in itself an egoic identification based on the belief that we have somehow found a better more ideal path in life). Freeing onself from attachment is breaking from your identification with roles and with your ego. In that space, you are free to be and any doing that you do is coming out of a place of being and connectedness with the universe.

That said, our greatest purpose in life is to love - not our cultural definition of love - but to recognize yourself in another. In otherwords, realize that you are one with all life - that without the form of your life, you are no different than anyone else. Only in that space is there true compassion and the ability to love without condition.

What I am trying to say is that it is not whether you are a parent or single or how you relate to others that defines attachment or your state of happiness for that matter. All of those roles are just roles that we play - they don't determine ones ability to be free from attachment or to be free from the form in our lives. Only our relationship with our ego determines that.

Rick Von Feldt said...

Kristin - great to hear from you after so long. And thanks for dropping by to read and to comment.

I hope you, Jeff and Jake are well.

Wow. I had to go off and do some thinking about "egoic thinking." That is thought that one has to do with quietness all around them - for it feels as if it is thinking about a dream within a dream.

Your suggestion of "breaking from identification of roles" is very difficult. I have spent time reading Covey - who suggests that you more clearly define roles in your life.... and the Ekhart Tolle and other thinkers tell you to get away from those roles and the attachment they provide.

Tolle in one of his recent writings says, "Set goals, but know that the arriving is not all that important. When anything arises out of presence, it means this moment is not a means to an end: the doing is fulfilling in itself every moment. You are no longer reducing the Now to a means to an end, which is the egoic consciousness."

It sounds great. But I am not sure that I am willing to let go.

I do agree with your thoughts on demonstrating and living in love with others is a freeing thought.

Tell me Kristin. How does your thinking appear in your own life? Do you find yourself struggling to "be" the perfect mother - amid all of the expectations of what perfect means? Or do you just love your husband - your child - and that is enough? Do you care about the role that is imposed upon you?

And do you wonder when your family grows up - what new role you will play?

One last question - what reading or thinking is influencing your thinking these days? How long has this perspective been naturally you?

Please stay with us over these next weeks and give us your thoughts!

Reference: An interesting excerpt from Tolle on "The Egoic Self." (