May 30      

Today's quotation:

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

Today's Meditation:

What truly defines me?  Is it my relationships with my family and friends, or my car?  Is it the ways that I treat other human beings, or the house that I "own"?  When people see me, are they more interested in the look in my eyes and the kindness I show, or the clothes that I wear?  Advertisers tell me that I'll be more popular, more acceptable, even happier if I buy their products, because I'll impress other people with them.  But if I follow this road, I'm setting myself up for disappointment because the impression these things make is fleeting, and because styles change constantly-- mostly in order to keep us buying more.

I've known people who have spent more time working on and being in their cars than they have with their families.  These people have seemed more like car owners to me than mothers or fathers, wives or husbands, daughters or sons.  When we spend our time on our possessions, we become slaves to them and we tend to make decisions in life based on our relationships with the possessions rather than based on the relationships we have with the other people in our lives.  We become a person who is more interested in getting and maintaining possessions than we are in helping others and being a positive force in other people's lives.

This doesn't need to be so, though.  It happens mostly because of the allure of owning something that will impress other people, a path that we accept because we feel that we can't be someone that other people want to be with unless we have something cool or beautiful or expensive.  But you'll find that more people want to be with you when you're kind and generous and compassionate, because they know that you'll treat them well.  Many of us learned when we were kids that other kids mock the kind kids, so we turned to other ways to impress people-- the short-term ways that give us momentary satisfaction, but nothing long-lasting.

It really is time for us to move away from possessions and move towards developing who we are as people.  It's time that we associate with people who love us as we are, not for what we have.  It's time that we allow ourselves to be ourselves without trying to supplement that self with possessions that we believe will cause others to be interested in us.  That may work for a few minutes or a few days, but life is a bit longer than that.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many of us focus so much on our possessions?  What's their allure?

How do we first start thinking that owning things can make us happier and more fulfilled?

What kinds of things are truly the most satisfying in life?

For further thought:

On our own, feeling alienated from the world we had been created from, cut off from the full extent of its abundance, people were no longer happy.  We began to search for the happiness we had lost.  When we found something that reminded us of it, we tried to possess it and accumulate more-- thereby introducing Stress into our lives.  But searching for lasting happiness and accumulating temporary substitutes for it brought us no satisfaction.

Benjamin Hoff

more on possessions



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