Monday, February 16, 2009

A Little Piece O' Me Heart

Want seems to be a large part of the ethos of western industrialized society. While we tend to deride more "primitive" cultures for concentrating on need, we have become societal hoarders. We collect all sorts of unneeded garbage in the form of possessions that then need to be protected from others by the powers of the state and, for many, by the personal barrel of a gun.

Over the past two decades or so, I've really tried to focus on needs rather than idle wants. To be quite candid, it's been a constant struggle. Like far too many Americans, I was suckled on the idea that more is better and I learned my lesson well.

Throughout my life I have been a consummate pack rat. There. I said it. I have collected all sorts of things -- a few needed, most decidedly not.

As a child, I had a coin collection, a stamp collection and a sports card collection. The first two were foisted on me by well-meaning relatives. I wasn't that interested in either, so each was a fairly pathetic collection. However, the latter -- particularly baseball cards -- was my passion and I amassed over 18,000 of them.

As I grew older, I started collecting anything and everything. I didn't want to toss aside anything because...well, one never knows when you might need it! I collected wood scraps, carpet remnants, office supplies, books, magazines, etc. Our home back in Salem, Oregon began to resemble a mini scrap yard!

Around the time I began to seriously contemplate Taoism, I realized I had surrounded myself with way too much stuff. So, I went through the emotionally agonizing task of getting rid of it. A small portion was sold, while the lion's share was donated to area thrift shops.

Since moving to Washington in August 2005, I've continued the culling process every few months. Last night I went through my computer's program folder to search out those programs that have languished on my hard drive for years. In the end, I cleared several gigabytes of space.

But it wasn't easy!! I've retained programs that I once used a great deal and, who knows, might need to use again in some distant time. I also had a bunch of programs that I've never had a reason to use, but the need might arise in the next decade or so. :-)

Though I feel far wiser than in my early years, each time I hit the uninstall button it was like losing a little peace of my heart.

For me, such feelings contain a valuable lesson. Who we are really is not bound up in what we have. A person could own oodles of doodads and still be hollow inside or could own little and be rich beyond compare.

I have a lot more culling to do.


  1. I feel more free every time I throw away the mail. :)

    I guess I am the very antithesis of a pack rat. :)

    To me, everything we own, owns us....and I don't want to be owned....

    Geez I woulda made a great monk. Renunciation and all that. ;)

  2. You have such an awesome blog here! I would love to speak to you sometime.

  3. FW, There's still time...for the monk gig. :-)

  4. Ha! And what would I do with my wife of 25 years...and the fact that I am an agnostic.... Just a few little problems with that plan there, eh? ;)

  5. I dunno, an agnostic monk with a wife sounds ok to me...

    Religion is far too confining in so many ways...

  6. Donna,
    Ain't it the truth though? :)
    I wish religious folk could get that through their heads.

  7. I have been luckier than most:
    At regular intervals I have been dispossessed of everything I have owned.
    The latest was a shipwreck on a Mexican shore. All I owned was a pair of worn-out underpants.
    That set me up for discovering the true nature of life.
    I have never looked back...

  8. Crow,
    It's good that you never looked back, but what a way to get there! :)


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