Tuesday, December 25
Gathering more property is empty abundance
If we look back on our most awe-inspiring moments, these are probably not time spent on exotic vacations or in elegant restaurants. No, they were everyday moments — snuggled next to a child and reading a book, or moments at daybreak, daily walks that transformed from the routine to special memories.
By no means do our best accomplishments result in the most money. Raising a child would be a top contender for many, as would creative pursuits. I began writing my second mystery novel a decade ago, and restructured at least a dozen revisions. And I am thrilled about a contract that pays an advance of $1,000 for what represents 10 years of work.
And our most valuable possessions are hardly the most expensive. As the fires raged in California, who could not help thinking about what they would reach for first in such an emergency — family, pets, photo albums would top most lists.
If I had the chance to save jewelry, I would snatch the small pearl earrings, an early gift from my husband. If I had to scramble through the ashes left from the fire, I’d search for pottery made by my son as a child and a rock that has the perfect fossil of a fern, found by my father and grandfather long ago as they walked by a creek in their neighborhood and since passed on to my son.
If I could save books, it would be my copies of "Marjorie Morningstar" by Herman Wouk and a cookbook, both of which arrived in the mail from a book club shortly after my mother’s death, almost like a message.
The link between all these belongings, of course, are memories. Our possessions are nothing without memories.
We live in a society that has allowed consumerism to flourish out of control, decreasing the value of almost everything we own.
This probably hurts our children more than anyone.
An introduction from an Oct. 26 article in The New York Times reads: "At age 8, Marcie Rosenthal is done with Barbies. ‘I have a whole collection that I would like to get rid of someday.’ "
Sadly, too many of our children equate the accumulation of possessions with happiness. They expect every want to be satisfied immediately. They embrace objects only to willingly dispose of them a few months later. Many grandparents admit that it’s very hard to find a gift today that truly makes a child happy.
Ironically, the solution to our angst is simple. We can be satisfied with less.
And perhaps we can change the direction in our children’s lives — encouraging contentment with what we have rather than stress over finding more, redirecting our time and energy for a purpose rather than the mere accumulation of wealth.
So what does abundance mean during a time of plenty and comfort? Accomplishments and ideas, strong friendships, smiles on another person’s face. Our pursuit of happiness does not hinge on spending more time on work, earning money, rushing to expensive activities, visiting stores, collecting more possessions. We can spend more time caring for families and friends. We can devote more time to relationships and worthy causes in our communities.
Photo courtesy of Mikimoto