Last week was the third week of the Unravelling e-course, and we have been thinking about and taking some photographs of our favourite things. One of the questions asked was, what would we save if there was a fire? This question really pulled me up short, or rather my answer did.There are lot of things I am fond of and that I couldn't really replace. In the photos above are my childhood books, our wedding rings and handfasting ribbons, and a garden bench which belonged to my Auntie. I have hundreds of photographs in a big storage box, but so rarely look at them I can't even recall what most of them are of. I've been planning since forever to sort them out and put them in albums. I have ornaments I love, and notes and cards I have kept....but really, is any of it that important?
Buddhism teaches non attachment. You can love a beautiful or precious item but when it breaks, or is lost, you can be philosophical about it. It came along, you had pleasure from it, its time is past, let it go. I think there is something to be said for that. When I thought about my possessions, the accumulation of objects I have acquired over the years, that fill this house, I realised that none of it is that important to me. In the case of that hypothetical fire, if my son, husband and dog were safe, I really don't think it would occur to me to try to save anything else. So then that begs the question, why do I have a house full of stuff?
Maybe we are so attached to things because they anchor us. Who would we be, without the photos and ornaments, the books and CDs, the accumulated stuff of a lifetime. Maybe we would be freer without it all, perhaps it would be easier to move on, try new things. It would certainly be easier to do the housework, and to find things, if there were a lot less of them.
The exercise was valuable for me. I realised both how many lovely treasured items I possess, but equally that none of them is of great importance really. I am reminded of this quote from Art Buchwald:
Image from stevey