Many spiritual teachings instruct us to be detached from the outcomes that we’re going after. There’s merit to that, but there’s a really important, sanity-saving distinction to make. It’s the difference between detachment and non-attachment. And it’s a big difference.
Detachment is hard on your heart — and it actually creates blocks to what you want. Non-attachment, on the other hand, is actually nourishing, and much easier to put into practice.
DETACHED is rigid; a bit chilly, a tad cranky; like an uptight intellectual, cut off from his/her heart. And here’s the thing, detachment is often a cover up for fear — fear of not getting what you want. Detachment is defending itself against disappointment — which is why it’s a bit bitchy.
There’s another way of wanting that’s both rational and faith-fuelled: Non-attachment.
NON-ATTACHMENT is open and spacious. It can hold your intense longing, and it can hold possibility. Non-attachment knows that some things take time, that you have to meet the universe half way, that free will is the guiding force, and that anything is possible.
As Michael Beckwith said to me, “Detached is, ‘I’m not playing anymore. I’m taking my ball and going home.’ Whereas non-attached is ‘I’m playing full-out, but I’m not attached to an outcome.’” Ya, THAT.
I’m a student of desire. I tried detached, I tried the chilly side of Buddhism, I even tried cynicism for a hot minute. But the desire fuels me. And the non-attachment is the oxygen that fans my creative flames.
I’ve looked at wanting from so many angles. I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people about what they want and how they’re going after it. There’s so much mystery left to explore, but I know this in my bones:
You’ve got to want what you want with all your heart. Not just half of your heart, not kinda, not if there’s proof, or if it’s easy, or if the funding is there, or if the timing is perfect. Nu-huh. No halves. Connected to your heart — not detached from it.
Give it all you got, and then… let it go. Let it go up to the Milky Way to be worked on. Let it come back with an answer, a gold nugget, a breakthrough, an alternative, a home.