What belongings do you wish for?
The three smaller things I’d been wanting have either arrived or are on their way: a new clip-on watch, brown Birkenstock sandals, and an iTouch (so I can use the instagram app).
And if I really let myself go crazy, with no concern for money or practicality or actual need, I could wish for: real wood book shelves, real wood bedroom dressers, a sectional big enough for two adult humans and two bigger dogs to comfortably lounge on, a black Ibex Shak fullzip jacket to replace the one I lost, a whole long list of books and cds, a white fine tipped Sharpie pen, a smart phone, a light but super fast laptop with lots of storage space, two new cars, a “real” stand up desk, a treadmill and elliptical, a house with an even bigger yard (and bigger kitchen that opened onto a family room, a basement, a two car garage, and an on-suite master bathroom), a custom designed wedding ring, and an entire wardrobe of clothes that fit well and looked good and were comfortable and well made and of good quality.
But the reality is, I don’t really need or want any of those things. My furniture is fine, new gadgets would be fun for a time but wouldn’t really change my quality of life, I love our little house and enjoy not having a car payment, and the simple band I wear on my ring finger is fine with me because my marriage is custom designed.
There are, however, a few things we probably need, belongings I could wish for: a new dishwasher, a load of top soil and some slate for our landscaping project in the front yard, a new toilet in our back bathroom, (ugh…I am so tired of having to hold the handle down until the bowl is completely empty for the thing to flush with any margin of functionality), and a good running bra.
My problem is that I don’t like shopping. I like looking at thrift, book, or office supply stores, or in a garden center, but most other shopping is too disappointing, too depressing. It robs me of precious time and money, and usually even if I can find something, it’s barely a match, a poor substitute for what I really wanted, and in the end, is only temporarily satisfying.
I actually wish for fewer belongings. I wish to unstuff, unload, simplify, declutter, live more with less.
What I’ve been thinking about these days are what belongings I’d save from a fire. I can’t help it, can’t escape the fire that’s burning out of control here, only 15 miles from my house. As of this morning, it was only 10% contained, has burned 46,600 acres, 118 structures (18 have been confirmed to be homes), and continues to grow, and while they hope to fully contain it in the near future, they believe they’ll be fighting it until fall. So you see, my mind right now is more on making a frantic mental list of the potential for loss.
I have many things I love and treasure: shelves and shelves of books, my purple sweater with the ruffles, my black Chaco flip-flops and Sanita clogs, multiple cds and movies, my favorite pens and art supplies, various down throw blankets, special coffee mugs, my favorite spoons, my computer, the teak Buddha that sits on my shrine, my Tibetan Mountain seat meditation cushion, my shell and rock collections, my stuffed monkeys, etc.–but these could all be replaced, repurchased, refound.
There are things however that are precious to me, that could never be replaced. They would be forever lost to me if they burned. My journals, old pictures that haven’t been scanned, love letters from Eric, my grandpa’s fedora, an afghan my grandmother knit, so many quilts my aunt made, the khata scarf that hangs over my shrine, Obi’s ashes and collar, the antique Asian panels by our bed, my baby blanket, letters and cards and pictures from loved ones, drawings and art projects my nieces made when they were younger, a vase and bowl that belonged to my great-grandma, and ice cream bowls we used at my grandma’s house when we were kids.
And yet, in the end, no thing truly belongs to us and everything will eventually be lost. I can’t quite explain it, but to me this is a kind of good news. It’s one brutally true thing about life, something we can count on–eventually, all will be lost. Throughout this changing and shifting, coming together and falling apart, there is belonging, there is love, and there is basic goodness, so my truest wish is that we can all experience that love and belonging and basic goodness, that we know it and trust it, and are able to let go of the rest when that time comes.