Nothing to lose

I had an epiphany of sorts the other day, when I was feeling desperately low. This isn't really making sense to me yet, so I'm going to try and flesh it out a bit here.

I wanted to say something to a loved one, but was afraid of the potential reaction. Then I realized, I have nothing to lose. I've already lost everything at some future point, given the impermanent nature of all things. It could be said that I never "had" anything to begin with. Nothing is mine. I don't own any thing. I don't own any person. Or relationship. Or concept. There's nothing I can hold in my hands and say, "this is mine, now and forevermore."

When I operate under the delusion that I can "have" things, people, relationships, I act in ways that facilitate gaining or keeping them. I act in unnatural ways because I don't want to lose the one I love, lose my source of income, lose some thing I own. I can't act in any sort of pure fashion, because I'm concerned with keeping these things intact. In the process, I become just a collection of these things I keep, and I lose my real self.

When I have nothing to lose, I am perfectly free. I am not concerned at all with grabbing and clutching and holding on. Nothing has a hold on me, either. I am unfettered by possessions, by concepts, by that-which-I-can't-live-without. I can live without any of it. Or not. I don't even own my body. It will die and fade away. I can't make it younger, I can't keep it alive indefinitely, and to cling to it is a kind of madness.

There is no such thing as failure when one has nothing to lose. Failure is losing, and if there is no losing, there is no failure. Therefore it frees one to try anything - absolutely anything at all - because there is no clinging to some idea of "success" or even worthiness. I can't succeed at this blog post, or at my relationship, or at life. I can't lose, either.

to me, this lays to rest the conundrum of emptiness in buddhism. Why try, if nothing matters? Why do anything, if it's all empty and impermanent? Realizing there's nothing to lose, one can say "Why not?" Time is infinite, not limited. Everything that's ever existed, and ever will, exists right now, and it's not going anywhere - just constantly changing form. The leaves that were on the tree yesterday are on the ground today, and will be swept up and bagged tomorrow. No leaf was lost. Nothing went "wrong" in that scenario. If I had picked the leaf, if I had burned the tree, it would produce a different outcome, but still nothing was lost.

There is no point in keeping it all in. There is no point in restricting oneself. Consequences abound, but when acts with compassion, you cannot go wrong. Only when you fear you have something to lose will you go astray, for then you will cling and clutch and grab to avoid losing that thing. You cannot have love and fear in the same breath. Only the truly fearless can truly love.

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