Life is about so much more than our possessions. Yet in our materialistic culture, it is easy to lose sight of what matters, and to focus only on acquiring more stuff. The things we own end up owning us. They take our time, our money, and most importantly, they occupy valuable space in our minds. To live life fully is to embrace the idea of treasure, not as a noun, but a verb. To think of the world not in terms of the things we own, but that which we find beautiful no matter how extemporaneous or impermanent. Often it is the impermanence of life that makes beauty so breathtaking in the first place.
On this topic, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“We get so embroiled with possessions. We find ourselves feeling that we need to own places, persons, and things. We try to possess our lives, and we believe that we can. We need to learn from the butterfly that alights on our hand. If we watch it and admire it, as it chooses to stay for a while, we are blessed with its beauty. If we try to hold onto it, we will kill it. It is in the not trying to possess that we have.
Imagine what it really means that we can have all the treasures of the world—not to own, but to appreciate, to enjoy… to live with.”
Appreciation and ownership are two concepts we have confounded. One of the biggest revelations in my journey with regard to shopping addiction was to realize that it is entirely possible to appreciate beautiful things without needing to own them. One not only does not, but simply cannot buy everything one finds beautiful. Similarly, some of the most beautiful things in the world belong to no one and everyone, such as the great masterworks of art, a mountainscape, a sunset, a rose bloom. Life itself is precious in this way. If we cling to this idea of ownership, that we can freeze time and keep something forever the way it is today, we suffer great pain, for life is all a process of moving on. Time flows steadily with no end. Change is constant. The only true ownership we have is in this moment, by living in the present and appreciating the beauty life has to offer us today.