Thursday, September 18, 2014

What is Emotional Detachment?

Tommy Shaw from Styx released a song during my high school senior year that resonates with me.  I remember locking myself in my bedroom and playing the song over and over.  Here are the lyrics from the first stanza:

You see the world through your cynical eyes
You're a troubled young man I can tell
You've got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're killing yourself if you don't believe it

Tommy Shaw is still singing that song three and a half decades later.  The words are deeply philosophical.  Perhaps the only word that no longer applies in my life is young.  My high school classmates never saw my cynical eyes.  They never knew I was a troubled young man.  And I never gave my head a rest.  Instead, I buckled my seat belt and boarded the roller coaster.  I found my relief by smacking tennis balls for countless hours.  The more sweat the better.  I didn't know about something called emotional detachment.  It's a new tool in my arsenal for dealing with things beyond my control.  It's neither a good tool nor a bad tool.  Detachment is neutral.  I can ride the roller coaster without anger, frustration or the need to barf.  My head rests even when the world around me is spinning.

With respect to Tommy Shaw, I don't have anything in the palm of my hand.  I decided to let go of all the things that make me angry.  Here are the rest of the lyrics:

Why must you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
And how can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man
And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're killing yourself if you don't believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You're the one they can't beat and you know it
Come on, let's see what you've got
Just take your best shot and don't blow it

I admire Tommy's optimism about the future.  Emotional detachment means separating myself from both the past and the future.  I do agree with the part about being the one they can't beat.  I promise to take my best shot every day, although sometimes I might blow it.  That's okay.  I'm not the one in charge.  I can't change anyone else.  I'm just going to spend today working on changing myself.  There's an open seat next to me on the back of the ride if you care to join me.  I promise, no vomiting.  Those days are behind me.  Today is a new day.  I'm going to enjoy the ride.

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