. . . you find the key to paradise.” (Zac Brown Band)
There are several layers of meaning to this piece of wisdom. I’m pretty sure that the Zac Brown Band (and Jimmy Buffett who sings on this song with them) meant that sitting in the sand, watching the waves lap against the shore, is a great way to forget about all your troubles and find yourself in paradise.
But another way to interpret this is to understand that when we lose ourselves (i.e. our attachment to our ego), we discover that the world is a peaceful, joyful place (paradise).
So what might this look like in real life? (Great question!) I have a friend who is in a situation that exemplifies this quite well. Before Thanksgiving, Jennifer went through a frenzied interview process for a coveted job. It appeared that she would have an answer immediately as to whether she was being offered the job. But the holiday came and went, and she still hasn’t heard anything.
When I asked her if she was feeling patient and at peace with the whole situation, she replied, “It’s not even about patience. I’m not patiently waiting. I’m just okay with whatever time it takes. I still feel very positive about it and know that if I’m meant to be in that job, it will happen. Frankly, my life is kind of in limbo since I can’t move forward with researching a place to live, planning to move, etc., but I’m really okay with that.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear her describe how she is feeling. She was certainly in a place beyond the ego (i.e. she wasn’t: wanting something to happen, feeling like she deserved it, seeing it as a reflection of her abilities, feeling mistreated that they haven’t responded yet, etc.). And she was feeling peaceful about whatever life was arranging for her (to get the job and move, or not).
This is a wonderful example of what it means to ‘lose yourself and find the key to paradise’. Because she wasn’t tied to the outcome being a certain way, because she wasn’t taking anything personally, and because she wasn’t seeing the outcome as an indicator of her worthiness, Jennifer has been able to stay in a place of calm and peace — even when her future is uncertain. And that is what living in paradise is all about!
Paradise is a metaphor for being in the world in a state of joy and peace, no matter what is going on around you. And it’s not something that happens overnight — it typically takes some practice to get to that place (unless you’re graced with a miracle).
So be gentle with yourself if you’re not there yet. And keep noticing (without judgment) where it is that you are, where you want to be, and what small step you can take today to move in the direction you want to go.
For it is by losing ourselves, that life becomes easier and more blissful.