|Photo by Tina D, edited by me (Creative Commons)|
Last summer, I saw my parents have their final yard sale before moving to Norway. I sat in a hard mix of emotions for most of the day. My dad sold off his collectible hockey cards. My mom brought out treasured old church cookbooks for a man asking if he could buy them. Chairs and lamps and things that never meant much to me growing up were hard to see go just because I had grown up with them. I knew it would be sad, so I wasn't surprised, but I wasn't even the one moving or leaving home! These weren't even my things, and I cared so much about losing them!
Growing up in a Christian home, I learned about storing up my treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). There are many other philosophies and religions that also teach detachment from the material world. I never really acted on these teachings that much, in fact, growing up, I was afraid to go to heaven because I knew I couldn't take my stuffed dog and blanket with me! Now that I've grown up a bit, though, and I've seen how attachment distracts us from what matters, I think my perspective is changing. It sounds callous, but after seeing the sadness that comes from losing things I cared about, I'm much more receptive to simply caring less and about fewer things.
I don't want to end up in a position where I care so much about the things I've collected that it hurts to let go of them. Nothing lasts in this world. Things get stolen, broken, burned, and eventually get left behind when we die and get distributed to new owners. Holding things with an open hand seems like a much, much wiser way to go about life than holding things tight. That's what I want to be like, holding things with an open hand.
What about you? How do you feel about the things you own? What new goals do you have for the new year?