“We are less than a speck in the vast universe and beyond, and yet an unrepeatable miracle in the universe–If you cannot connect to this reality you will live a disillusioned life.”— KW
Once I toured a home owned by a friend that was massive. It had several thousand square feet of almost anything you could imagine. As the owner gave me his personal tour, we came to a large bedroom that was in a remote area of the house. I said to him “I bet you have never been in this room before.” He said “You’re right”. He essentially spent his time in three rooms: his massive master bedroom, his bathroom, and the kitchen where his chef made his food.
There is just so much space you can occupy as a human being. Even when you want a large footprint, you cannot be everywhere at once. It has been my experience that the older you get, your world begins to shrink and you need less space. You stop wanting to manage the demands of upkeep. The idea of living in multiple homes becomes a hassle. It is no longer peaceful but triggers inner discord and disharmony. So you downsize–or maybe the better description would be right size.
Possessions and ownership are interesting concepts about life. We think we own the land that we took from Native Americans. We think we have proprietary rights to property and own the possessions we have. Technically and legally we do in the here and now. Yet, in reality, we don’t own anything. Someday, sooner or later, we will give it all back. Some entity will take over assets, property, investments, and positions of power that you once thought were yours. You and I will fade into the annals of time, never to be remembered. Some day the land our forefathers fought for will be occupied by other people. It could be a new generation of Native Americans who retake possession of our land! Possessions are transitory. Someday the Grim Reaper will unceremoniously call your name and announce you are done on this earth. Your body will become the vegetative fungus that feeds the plant life and your spirit will be a part of the uncertainty of afterlife. In the end, you will not own anything.
Here are some observations that recovery living offers about possessions:
1. Relinquish, release, and refocus: Letting go of the treasures of life is its own treasury. The dearest things in life cannot be owned, but only shared. You might own your car, your vacation property, and your electronic devices. Yet, you cannot own the love or the energy of life that flows through your heart and makes life meaningful. Relinquish your grip on making things “mine” and the secret desire to get what others have. Release your clasp to fame and fortune that will fade and rust. Refocus and make good use of the possessions you have. Prioritize giving yourself as a benefit for the next generation.
2. The here and now is all you have: Gurus and philosophers have reflected for centuries on the importance of the present moment. Current guru Eckhart Tolle emphasizes this in his best-selling book, The Power of Now. The capacity to reflect upon the past and to plan for the future is unique to our species. Soren Kierkegaard wrote that “Life is meant to be lived forward but can only be understood backward”. While true, all we can be is in the here and now. Storing possessions for future pleasure or living in the memory of past glories only creates an illusion of detachment from the present moment.
3. Connecting to everyday experiences in life transforms your perspective about your possessions. To live relentlessly in the small everyday experiences creates great strength. It won’t be all of your possessions that inspire but the everyday acts of love that create meaningfulness in life. Mother Teresa framed everyday acts of love in this way, “Sometimes you think that what you are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Possessions shrink in importance in the presence of practicing acts of love. The changes in your life that you aspire will not be manifested by prioritizing your possessions. They will become visible in obscure places where you practice acts of kindness. They will likely become transformative and evidenced in the generations that follow. Like an old Native American reflection, “You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers, so that they will respect the land. Tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.” The power of perspective about things we possess come from reflections about the past. Future aspirations toward love and peace germinate from the common experiences of everyday living.