Unpacking

Trash cans in row

Trash cans in row (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life can be interesting sometimes. For reasons I won’t get into here I found myself in the position of losing all my worldly possessions save what I could carry. I won’t lie. It was traumatic at first. I will miss all those books, in particular my gamer books, which have provided me days, weeks, months, maybe even years of entertainment with friends,. That said, after about 24 hours my attitude changed. When I say it changed, I mean, it really changed.

Once it really sank in that stuff was gone for good, instead of being upset I was relieved. It was more than just an acceptance that the situation is what it is and that I cannot change it, part of me was happy to be rid of it. I felt, and still feel a little, bad about the items that were gifts, not because I no longer owned them, but because I felt a little like a bad steward of someone else’s heart, that I had betrayed the gift giver just a little. Beyond that though it is like a tremendous weight has been lifted from me.  I no longer needed to worry about losing, or not having, things.

Which is what any of it really is: just things. They were only ever worth their immediate usefulness. Some of them had sentimental value (the aforementioned gifts, my Intro to Logic text-book that I saved from my first semester in college) but even they were just more material items holding me down. They tied me to a habit of filling an emotional void with stuff, which is, of course, a fool’s errand. There is so much more to fill our hearts with no matter what our cultural narrative tries to force on us.

I have my art, my poetry and prose, that I share here. I have my activism. I have amazing friends. I have walks in the park and the simple knowledge that the universe is a vast, wonderful puzzle waiting to be solved. I have my hope that I can be part of making the world a better place. Other than that, and a roof over my head and food in my belly, what do I need?

A possession is worth only what it can do for you. I need my computer, because it is how I write and keep in contact with the larger world. I do not need DVD’s, CD’s, piles of clothing, extra furniture, or any other item that I might own just for the sake of owning. True, much of what I lost was actually useful, but it kept me in bondage to the idea of material wealth. The useful stuff, or the stuff with legitimate sentimental value, I would like to see replaced for those reasons. In the meantime though, the shock and relief of the event has liberated me. It exposed me to a truth that I, and so many of those I know, have paid lip service to but have failed to live up to: that material gain is not really gain, and that it cannot replace the intangible treasures in our lives.

I am not saying I will successfully avoid that addiction in the future. I know I have a good head start on it though. I have been forced to kick “stuff” cold turkey, and it was painful for just a little bit, but now that I am through withdrawal, I think my chances are good. I won’t preach, too much, as recovering addicts are wont to do, but I recommend giving it a go, quit material things, or more importantly owning stuff just because. I bet you will be happier once you have done it.

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