10.15.2008

you could give up all your worldly possessions

interlude -- aka that thing i do when i'm not directly talking about advertising/social media/marketing. instead, this post is dedicated to Blog Action Day, inspired when i read Advergirl's response. really, go read it. because she did it well and i'm not going to head in the same direction.

the theme this year is poverty. Advergirl gives examples of hands-on ways you can change poverty in the world around you. i think that's the point of the action, but i want to talk philosophically instead. i want to talk about the word possession. not its roots, but its context. because i think the root of poverty is our concept of possession. i'm not going to tell you to give up all your worldly possessions. we all need stuff. duh. that's kinda the point of poverty actions. to help people who don't have stuff get stuff. so yes, in essence, i'm pro-stuff.

but the concept of ownership--of possession--of items or of people has been tripping me up lately. i've been thinking a lot about infidelity, no small part in thanks to AV Flox [on the person-level] and on the corporate-level [that's just one link, hat tip to Gavin]. and also about ownership literally. like in the beginning of Fight Club where the narrator's apartment, his whole life basically right down to his treasured Ikea furniture, goes up in flames. and he has nothing.

"it's very easy to take more than nothing" -- Mad Hatter [Lewis Carroll]

if we think of ourselves as owning nothing, then everything we have is its own gift, come to us by way of the world, into our laps, and can go just as swiftly. letting go becomes easy. giving becomes easy. after all, what is it to you, who needs nothing, and can always have more than nothing? why do you not give? what are you saving for? what do you think you own? what do you fear to lose? what do you fear?

you get upset when someone leaves you because you thought you owned some part of them. that they for a moment might become a part of you. and that fear encroaches on many relationships. fear of cheating, fear of abandonment, fear of emotional distance, etc. you get upset when an object breaks, when you lose a stock, when hours are cut. i'm not saying any of those are unrealistic fears. i'm saying, comparatively, you would feel less stressed if you were less concerned with your territory, your ownership.

because right now, if you own up to the fact that you own nothing, you still "have stuff." you've changed your thought patterns but not your life, and that's alright. i'm not saying become a recluse and get out of every relationship because you can't have any true security in it. you don't have to go become a monk, but next time you can give, you might think of it as a little easier. easier to give more than nothing. and more thankful for those moments in which others give to you--a new sweater, an hour spent, a moment of intertwined fingers.

[disclosure: in my ugliest state, i am an intensely territorial creature. i am that jungle predator in my head, i like the idea of ownership and i can be incredibly defensive about it. a poem i wrote in college had the line "i would piss on tree bark just to prove it's not yours"; a paraphrase but still true. things belong to me because they have become a part of me. "you are not your fucking khakis" -- palahniuk. i am working through this. i am learning what it means not to own. i am good at giving. i am trying to be better.]

4 comments:

Gavin Heaton said...

You SO need to "meet" my buddy Julian. He lives at http://adspace-pioneers.blogspot.com

the girl Riot™ said...

thanks Gavin! a rec from you means he must be stellar :) checking him out.

AV Flox said...

LOL. I love that I made you think about infidelity.

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