“So when you are at your best and you feel good about things, you are even more anxious, because you may not have continuity. And often, you feel cheated by your life, because you do not have the facility to synchronize thousands of things at once. So there is natural, automatic pain and suffering. It is not like the pain of a headache or the pain you feel when some-body hits you in the ribs—it is anxiousness, which is a very haunting situation.” Chögyam Trungpa, The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation
Sunday evening is a sort of limbo. Technically, it’s part of the weekend, but it doesn’t feel like the weekend. I like my job and don’t dislike Mondays, but it’s hard to relax and fully enjoy Sunday evening knowing I’ve only got a few non-sleeping hours left before the work week starts again.
I can easily conjure up the feeling of Sunday evenings while I was in grade school. It was a time for homework and I even had a soundtrack for it—the weekly CBC call-in radio show “Cross Country Checkup” that my mother listened to. I thought those vague feelings of sadness and submission would end after I completed university, but they never did. Having a job, I always either have a feeling on Sunday evening that I should be doing some work in preparation for the week ahead or a realization that all the stuff on my personal to do list that didn’t get done on the weekend will probably have to wait another week.
There’s a common generalization that a core belief in Buddhism is “life is suffering.” Part of the difficulty is in translating the original Sanskrit word to “suffering” and I won’t attempt a knowledgeable interpretation, but let me say that the idea is not as simple as “life sucks and then you die.” Beyond the outright sucky bits, there is the day-to-day slight sense of unease caused by our reactive emotions and the fact that all the good-feeling bits come to an end. Lately, I’ve picked up on the term “haunting” in Buddhist readings and classes. I love this description for the underlying feeling of dissatisfaction because we find it hard to just live in the moment and not grasp at all the shiny stuff.
For example, a friend told me that she stopped getting massages—not because she didn’t like them, but because she liked the massage so much that it made her unhappy knowing it was going to end.
That sour bit has prevented me from 100% relaxing into the pleasure of anything on Sunday evening—including driving home after an amazing camping trip with friends on Orcas Island, watching my favoUrite NFL team, or going to an awaited movie on opening weekend. Sunday evening is a perfect example to me of what is meant by this “suffering”—I just can’t allow myself to come close to being present and to not think about what’s next (Monday morning).
I just assumed it would be like that until I retired at 65. But now I’m hoping the feeling on Sunday evening will change with my simpler living plan. If I’m working for myself a couple hours every day, then there shouldn’t be much of a difference between weekday and weekend. Maybe some days I will work more and some days I will work less—but my self-scheduled days have the possibility of feeling different than my current weekly norm of 5 on and 2 off.
If someone could bottle the feeling of Friday night, they would be a rich person. What I want now is to trade the high of Friday night for a week where I feel equally lighter on all days. I want my Sundays to stop being haunted. I’m taking back Sunday night.
CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation by Chögyam Trungpa