You Are Not Your Couch
Thank goodness you aren’t what you own. Really. No matter how good it all is (or isn’t) it’s not a touch on the quality and ability that comes from being you.
I mention this theme because inherently we have problems with possessions. “If only I had that new car” “That new extension will change our life” “A new computer will truly make me uber cool”.
These things and everything else that we hanker for are desirable, potentially practical, and could give us a sense of elevated status. And that’s the problem.
You see, we tend to fuse our identity with the stuff we own. So much so, that we see our relative importance and power as amplified by our assets.
How many times have you heard someone say, “He is worth so many million”. No he isn’t. He is of equal value to everyone else. But it just so happens he has property assets worth that much money.
Can you see the distinction? Thinking possessions are a literal extension of our selves makes it burningly important to have more. Of course, if that were the case, then it would make sense. Except that it isn’t.
Regardless of how much we collect, we remain the same person who just happens to have gathered a pile of stuff.
No doubt this mentality isn’t new. I imagine back in ancient times, Glukel was working out what to do with his hard earned hoard of a hundred shekels and decided he’d like to buy a fancy new goat (probably a red one, because they go faster). Later, as he gathered more goats, he then moved onto to wanting a better barn, equipment, etc.
Glukel would have felt more important because he had a bright red goat parked out the front. But in truth he was still the same person. And so it is with us, regardless of what we own.
When we mistake things for extensions of our identity and worth as a person, we enter into a fantasy. Perceiving we are our possessions distorts us and leaves us compelled to have to schlep it all with us… because like prosthetic arms and legs, it’s part of us.
You can imagination therefore what happens when the house burns down or burglars bash their way in and trash the place. Good as your things are, they are no more than the fruits of your considered decisions. Owning means minding, cleaning, insuring, fixing, and maybe even using what we’ve got. Which, if you’ve got too much, can be a real drag (and a classic First World problem).
So, the truth is you are not your couch (even if you do find the odd coin tucked away on you somewhere unexpected). Things are expressions of what we value. Without us to appreciate them, they’d be useless.
Even the most treasured items you can possess are worthless without humans. Our capacity to appreciate puts the value into our things, not the other way round.
So if you’ve got the shekels to afford a red goat, go ahead and enjoy it. But don’t for a moment kid yourself that it makes you anymore important. Because, all the value you will ever have was there right from the moment you were born.
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