There's a lot of talk about "attachment" when you're trying to find your way out of depression. It's a Buddhist thing, and those guys have a lot of amazing stuff to say about life n that. Attachment, so the Buddhists say, is one of the roots of all our suffering. And the solution is non-attachment. To everything. Which isn't the same as being detached, which is bad. At first I had trouble with the non-attachment idea because I thought it was kind of a cop out - like if you don't want anything or you're not attached to anything then you're just floating around on your own being all zen but not doing anything meaningful or exciting. But I don't think that's really what they're saying. It took me a while to get my head round it. Now I'm really on board with the whole thing. I've got to be careful how much I attach to things. But, like everything with the mind, it's complicated.
When I say "attachment" I'm talking about anything we kind of mentally or emotionally hold on to. Could be an idea, a person, a possession, an image of ourselves, a vision of our future, a football team, anything. The more I emotionally or mentally cling to anything the more painful it's going to be if I lose it or never get it.
I spent a lot of my life attaching to fantasies. Fantasies of what I thought my life should be like. Fantasies of who I should be. Fantasies of how my relationships should be. Fantasies of how Christmas should be. I think I watched too many films as a kid or something because I really thought my like would turn out like a film. The film always changed, but I just expected everything to eventually be awesome, even though life never felt that way. I just thought, if I could just get X, Y, Z in place, then everything would be awesome and I'd feel ok. If I could just have the perfect Christmas; if Arsenal could just win the Champions League; if I could just get a girlfriend; then I'd be happy.
Christmas makes make me sad sometimes because my Christmas never feels like Christmas in the John Lewis advert. But now I've learned to try to not attach so much emotion or longing to stuff. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy them. I love pigs in blankets. I love Christmas trees. I love Christmas get togethers. The difference these days is that deep down I know that if I didn't have any of those, it wouldn't really matter. I used to be a highly emotional Arsenal fan. Over the last few years I just stopped caring. It wasn't a specific decision. I think I just let go of the attachment. I don't care about football anymore, but I still like watching it sometimes. I don't care about Christmas, but I still like pigs in blankets.
The general message is something like: Don't attach to anything. The attachment will only hurt you. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't love things. I just shouldn't attach too much to the love. Everything changes. Everything comes and goes. Enjoy it while it's there. But be ready to let it go. It's really hard to learn to do it. I still attach to things all the time. These days I generally know when I'm doing it, but it doesn't stop it happening. Letting go is hard. I guess I have to train myself to do it, over and over again. And maybe listen to that Frozen song more. Ugh.