A fear that many people have is that if they don’t hold tightly to their goals and dreams and think about them all day long, they won’t accomplish them. Yet it is the very attachment to outcomes, to getting a specific result, that sets the stage for anxiety, the fear that you won’t achieve what you want. As you learn to release the attachment, new creative energies - as well as feelings of courage and confidence - spring forth, and actually move you closer to your objectives.
Worrying about the future is one of the main causes of stress in our lives. It is a habit that just perpetuates fear, the uncomfortable feeling that we aren’t enough as we are. It keeps us stuck in the belief that such-and-such must happen if we are going to be happy, and that if it doesn’t, our lives will be miserable.
There’s a story about J. Krishnamurti that speaks reams about what it means to be free of this limiting, fear-based pattern of thinking. Every spring he used to give talks in a beautiful oak grove in Ojai, in southern California. He had been speaking there for over sixty years. On this particular occasion when I went to hear him, in the late nineteen-seventies, there must have been close to two thousand people in attendance, sitting on the grass, or in their folding chairs.
It was always an extraordinary experience, hearing Krishnamurti in person. Aldous Huxley, who was a friend of Krishnamurti’s, described it as: “Like listening to a discourse of the Buddha - such authority, such intrinsic power.”
Part way through this particular talk, Krishnamurti suddenly paused, leaned forward, and said, almost conspiratorially, “Do you want to know what my secret is?” Almost as though we were one body we sat up, even more alert than we had been, if that was possible. I could see people all around me lean forward, their ears straining and their mouths slowly opening in hushed anticipation.
Krishnamurti rarely ever talked about himself or his own process, and now he was about to give us his secret! He was in many ways a mountaintop teacher - somewhat distant, aloof, seemingly unapproachable, unless you were part of his inner circle. Yet that’s why we came to Ojai every spring, to see if we could find out just what his secret was. We wanted to know how he managed to be so aware and enlightened, while we struggled with conflict and our numerous problems.
There was a silence. Then he said in a soft, almost shy voice, “You see, I don’t mind what happens.”
I don’t mind what happens. That is the essence of inner freedom. It is a timeless spiritual truth: release attachment to outcomes, and - deep inside yourself - you’ll feel good no matter what. You’ll feel good because you are connected to, one with, the energy of the universe, the beauty and power of creation itself. Or, as Krishnamurti himself put it:
‘When you live with this awareness, this sensitivity, life has an astonishing way of taking care of you. Then there is no problem of security, of what people say or do not say, and that is the beauty of life.’
Mississippi’s train waiting on your doorstep, I’ve never been to Maine I’m trapped in a cobweb.
Las Vegas sounds the same or maybe I’m not into fame but maybe I’m a drifter waiting for my liver to feel the blister or the traveler’s fever. New Orleans riverboat waiting for us to float But I’ve got an empty pocket and I don’t own a rocket so maybe it’s time for us to waltz into this rhyme because San Francisco is where I want to disco like it was the nineteen seventies and my words are my only legacy!
“May the Lord guard us and guide us and protect us and – oh God, Mulder!”
Mulder tried to take the next turn slower but the rain had made the Tennessee road slick and the rented Taurus scrapped the guardrail as it nearly skidded out of control. He spun the steering wheel and slammed the breaks so hard Scully nearly went through the windshield.
“Fuck, Scully, I’m sorry.” He put the car in park and unbuckled her seatbelt which was chocking her. An angry welt was already forming on her neck. He went to touch it but she waved him off.
Mulder hated the Scully mantra of “I’m fine”. She wasn’t fine. The case they were coming back from had been hard for both of them. It wasn’t an X-file, but a serial killing the Behavioral Science Unit needed Mulder’s help on. He’d spent the day trying to get into the mind of a child killer while Scully did the autopsies. They needed to decompress but a summer storm had rolled in and made the mountain road back to their motel dangerous.
“I think we should wait out the storm. The Tennessee wilderness isn’t the best place to crash your ride. Too many bears.“
When Scully said nothing, he propped his feet on the dashboard and took her hand. She looked at him and sighed.
“C'mon, Scully. I know you’ve always wanted to do the deed in the backseat of a rent-a-car.”
Another sigh. “Mulder.”
He really needed to stop trying to cheer Scully up with sex jokes. What worked for the Lone Gunman exasperated his partner. Maybe it was time to get serious and check out a book on communication between spouses. They were practically married anyway.
He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckle. Her skin was soft and smelled like the vanilla hand cream she kept in her purse. He made a mental note to buy her another bottle when he restocked her supply of hazelnut coffee for work.
“It’s just been a rough day,” she said, answering his silent question. “Seeing those boys’ bodies and knowing what happened to them is tough.”
“It reminds you of your abduction.” It was a statement, not a question.
“You’re supposed to feel safe in your own home, Mulder. It’s supposed to be the one place the bad guys can’t reach but they can pick locks and break windows to steal you away.”
Sometimes they use tractor beams, Mulder wanted to add.
Scully touched his cheek, her thumb inching to his lips. He tilted his head and kissed the delicate digit.
They were quiet for a moment. Scully watched raindrops race down the window and Mulder counted flashes of lightning.
One. Two. Three.
“Mulder, have you ever had sex in the back of a car?”
He laughed. “No, but I got head for the first time in the bed of a nineteen seventy-one Baja Bronco.” He could still remember the sweet spring air and the warm metal of the truck. It was one of his few teenaged memories that didn’t suck.
The corners of Scully’s mouth twitched. She was too refined to laugh but Mulder could see the mirth in her eyes. He leaned forward and kissed her brow as her hands found his neck. He smelled vanilla again.
He loved the smell of vanilla.
“You smell pretty,” he told her.
“That’s weird, Mulder.”
He nuzzled her hair in response. The scent of vanilla was trapped there too, along with the faint odor of sweat. She needed to shower, to scrub away the tragedies she saw today.
“Can I wash your back tonight?”
Scully hummed. “That would break a multitude of F.B.I policies.”
“Well, fuck the government then.”
“So poetic, Mulder.”
Mulder didn’t believe in God, but something in that moment made him say a prayer for Scully, for her happiness, for the future she deserved.
Whether he’s mixing a bizarre cocktail of irreverent humor with grotesque violence or subverting historical drama with psychedelics, British director Ben Wheatley has spent the last decade establishing his wickedly imaginative brand of genre-melding cinema with films like Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England, and High-Rise. His latest film, Free Fire, a nineteen-seventies-set shootout, opened earlier this month and for the occasion we invited him to Criterion for a trip inside our films closet. Ever the voracious cinephile, Wheatley shared some delightful bon mots about his most treasured titles in the collection, from the camera’s “observing eye” of Maysles’ Grey Gardens to the childhood terror seeing William Cameron Menzies’s Things to Come.
Well, not exactly the eighteen-forties fan-frenzied response to classical composer Franz Liszt, but the Phoenix song of the same name was certainly causing a present day scene. Walls and bodies shook in the living room, people screeched along with the lyrics at the top of their lungs, and arms flailed as intoxication ruled the night. Up against a wall, a far less enthused Rey clutched onto a cup of something she’d never drink. Desperately scanning the dancefloor for an escape route, her face took on the appearance of Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ as she took a brave step forward. Horror for Rey was feeling a sweaty wet arm on her sweaty wet arm. That meeting of moisture made her want to wring old Liszt’s dead ass, and Rey thought she’d reached the end of her wits until when a shoulder bumped into her spine.
A slurred stranger’s apology didn’t count for much when sugary punch seeped between Rey’s toes. She shuddered with revulsion, but Rey miraculously refrained from flicking the drunkard off. It wasn’t anybody else’s fault that she felt awkward and out of place, but once “soiled by rum punch” was added to the list of reasons why she hated the party, Rey decided to call it a night. It wasn’t her scene at all, she couldn’t stop thinking about her art project deadline anyway, and if anybody met the girl’s gaze they would have assumed that the only possible explanation for her attendance in the first place was likely trickery.
In truth, she’d been bribed - and not even with money. No, Rey had been bribed with pizza- and not even with good pizza.
Four, eighty-cent frozen pizzas in exchange for accompanying her friend Poe to the party so he wouldn’t be alone was the deal once considered too tempting to turn down. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time Rey had made a bad bargain on cheap pizza. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time that she’d been lured with pizza by Poe that month, but there was the bonus that night of getting to pat herself on the back for being a selfless best friend who cheaply fed herself too. It was basic broke ass college economics that led to Rey entering a three bedroom apartment party, but the minute they’d stepped into the chaos Poe had predictably swept away into a sea of loud greetings as Rey longed to bash her head on the rocks.