Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remember What Is Precious Amongst All Your Stuff

Most of us have treasured material possessions. In fact, many of us simply have too many! But out of all those things, I'm not going to ask you what you can't live without (you can live without any possessions!) but what would make you very sad if they were lost. What 5 things would upset you the most to lose?

Think hard....

Perhaps a locket that was your great-great grandmother's?
Childhood photographs?
Your iPod?
A particular book?
A celebrity's autograph?
The hat your father wore?

Keep thinking....

Are they things that can be replaced?
Are they tangible or intangible, like memories?

It doesn't really matter. I'm not going to argue one type is better than the other. Nor will I try to convince you that you should give up all your possessions and live in a cave. What I want you to do is become conscious of the value you place on certain things and really evaluate what matters and what you can really live without.

We tend to become very possessive very quickly. If we claim a seat on the bus or subway, we start to become very protective of that space, which actually doesn't belong to us at all! It becomes "my" chair - something I have that others don't. We pause when we have to "give it up" to someone else, though it was never ours to begin with. We do the same thing with material possessions and the longer we own them, the more attached we become. Habits develop and we proclaim that we simply cannot live without them!

While I don't wish this upon anyone, if there was a fire and your house burnt down - your family and pets are fine but nothing physical is left - what would upset you most to lose? Even more importantly - why?

I think, if you sit down and really think about it, you'll realize it isn't hard to see what is really important and that you really can live with a lot less than you think.

When I was a teenager, my school sent us away from home to a ski camp. During that time, we met some other teens, most notably a group of Equadorians. Us girls snuck into their cabin to talk to them. After some stilted conversation, I mentioned I was upset I did not bring my camera with me to remember this moment and one of the young men said it didn't matter, the best camera is the mind.
OK, maybe it was a cheesy line, but honestly, your memories are yours, not to be stolen by anyone. You can't lose them one day while walking to the bank. Even if you are afflicted with Alzheimer's, you still have *some* memories.
Of course, photographs and physical objects help those memories surface and make them more tangible, but they are not 100% necessary.

This whole exercise is just to help you keep things in perspective and become conscious of your possessiveness. If we don't get too attached to things, obviously it won't hurt so much when we lose them, but since we often do get attached, just try to keep in perspective what their loss would mean. Do your best to keep those things safe, but if you do lose them, remember you always have your memories. It's that simple.