August 1       

Today's quotation:

It is the preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents people from living freely and nobly.

Bertrand Russell

Today's Meditation:

It's not a coincidence that the most fulfilling times of my life have happened when I had the fewest things, fewer possessions than I normally do.  Possessions tend to complicate our lives more than they simplify or enrich it, but we tend not to see this fact because we've convinced ourselves that we want the things in question-- and now that we have them, we don't want to admit that we were wrong when we thought they would make our lives better.

It's very difficult to feel or be free when we have a lot of possessions.  They require us to have someplace to put them, which tends to be our homes, and if we were to give up the homes, we'd have to give up the possessions, also.  We'd have to work much less if we had fewer things, and if we desired to have fewer things we could focus on other things that are much more important, like quality of life, learning, helping others, and so many other things that don't involve possessions.

One of the most interesting dynamics of our possessions is the fact that we didn't even want many of them until we saw someone else with them, or until we saw an ad about them.  Until then, our lives were fine without those things, but afterwards we somehow "needed" them; and when we got them, even if they were in some ways valuable, they complicated our lives at the same time.  This is especially true nowadays when so many of our possessions now have monthly fees tied to them, and keeping track of the subscriptions they require now complicates our lives rather significantly.

I don't want my focus in life to be on things.  There are some things I need to do my work and to live comfortably, and I have quite a few things that I don't even need, but I want my main focus to be on the people in my life and what I can do to help them make it through life well.  It's very easy to think that I'm not attached to possessions, but I know that I am and that I probably always will be.  My task is to minimize that attachment so that I can maximize the other attachments that mean much, much more.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many of us "need" so many things?  Do we truly need them all?

Why do so many people find it easier to focus on possessions than to focus on other people?

How might we start to wean ourselves away from the possessions that have taken over us?
For further thought:

My wish simply is to live my life as fully as I can.  In both our work and our leisure, I think, we should be so employed.  And in our time this means that we must save ourselves from the products that we are asked to buy in order, ultimately, to replace ourselves.

Wendell Berry
The Art of the Commonplace

more on possessions



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