The Important Things Are Not ThingsMarch 14, 2016
A few years ago, when I packed all of my belongings into a 10’ x 10 10’ storage area and prepared to depart for Beijing and a year of travelling, I was reminded of the futility of owning things.
At the time, everything I owned had been loaded into that storage space. Yet the space and the belongings did not say anything about who I am, what I stand for, what I have done, or what I dream about. Looking at everything stacked into that space struck me in an unexpected way. As humans, we can be reduced to nothing so easily, yet we allow ourselves to be defined by tangible belongings, though it is not an authentic definition at all.
While visiting nursing homes I observed the elderly residents lived with fewer belongings than I had in my dorm room in college. In life we start with nothing, we accumulate, we are left with nothing. And, frankly, none of it matters because we aren’t taking stuff with us after we die.
All of our things, our possessions, our “stuff”, are without meaning. I don’t believe material possessions are a measure of success or even an indicator of wealth. A truly wealthy person has freedom–to choose, to think, to speak, to express themselves fully, to listen, to disagree, to control their own lives, to travel, to inquire, to choose her or his own constraints, to establish a foundation of beliefs—and employs those freedoms in a positive manner. Intellectual freedom, personal freedom, physical freedom, these provide the basis for a person to be wealthy.
And a wealthy person lives life connected to humanity, to family, to friends, at personal, local, national, and world levels. We are members of communities big and small—a wealthy person recognizes the need to be accountable and contribute at all levels.
The Important Things Are Not Things.
So, what is important to me? Family, friendship, love, kindness, honesty, integrity, forgiveness, freedom, compassion, caring, happiness, acceptance, understanding.
And perhaps these are the same things which bring happiness in my life, too.
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