The More You Have, The Less You Own


Feel the warmth of the Holidays as Americans swarm and rush to buy things? Looks more like a band of mindless animals in a feeding frenzy to me. Much of this will end up in a land fill trash dump within a few years.

The title above was borrowed from Meister Eckhart, and it really hits home for me. Yes, so many today are heading east trying to capture a sunset -“It ain’t goin to happen folks!” From the time we are able to understand a video, written or audio message, we are bombarded by those with their own selfish agendas to buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume. These messages come with either the direct or implied promise that to do so will make you happier. Like mindless sheep, we follow, but the happiness never follows.

And think you own anything? Think again. Most things break, deteriorate, or we outgrow our interest in them. Creative, smart people spend most of their waking hours figuring out ways for us to repeat this mindless cycle again and again while temporarily feeling good about it. And for anything truly worthwhile, the government is your silent partner when you want to sell, gift it to family, or croak for they will extract taxes. And we all at some stage realize we can’t take our toys with us.

It’s pretty pathetic when essentially all our more recent Presidents and especially Obama and Bush implore us to keep spending for things most of us can’t even afford in order to support the U.S. economy. It’s like they and we are all sucked into this mindless consumption. They even shame us in various ways if we don’t – just watch an automobile or jewelry commercial. Our leaders would have us believe that money and what it will buy are the panacea for all that ails us and the path to happiness and satisfaction though they will quickly deny that. Well folks you’re headed in exactly the wrong direction if you ever want to capture that proverbial sunset.

As we get older, more of us are beginning to understand this charade. As friends and loved ones pass, we realize that it was our experience of them that mattered, not a television, car, ring, or house that we focused so much attention on getting.

I understand that it’s not your fault; we’ve ruthlessly been conditioned to think that we can find fulfillment in possessions, to love things rather than savor experiences and relationships. As you observe the unbridled consumerism with the Christmas shopping season, you’ll see this race at its fiercest. The joy of Christmas morning gifts begins to dissipate by late afternoon. A year or two later, few will remember much about the gifts they received; candidly I haven remembered much, but I do remember the family gatherings. Aren’t you apt to remember the friends and relatives in your life and how they made me feel with no “things” needed?

I am all for living in reasonable comfort, but when I go to the shopping centers particularly around the Holiday Season, I cannot help becoming  a bit sad for those scurrying around either hope to please or be pleased. Sure, in America we have more than enough money to be wasteful, but not enough love or goodwill. Those energies could be better directed elsewhere. If there has ever been an energy crisis, this is really it. All our vitality, energy, and drive is sapped and undermined by the constant propaganda: go after this, go after that, and you’ll be happy. Things are not meant to be loved. They are meant only to be used. People are lovable and loving, and when we focus more attention on people and relationships, we all stand to benefit in ways we presently can’t imagine.

I don’t expect you to change your habits or other’s expectations right away, but I do hope you will take a quiet moment sometime to reflect on how you might differently direct your attention toward others as opposed to following the mindless herd to buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume.

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