Not too long ago I tweeted that I’d be better off with no material possessions. A smart apple tersely responded surely I wouldn’t want my material cache of belongings stolen. Time passed. I let his tweet echo in my mind for sometime, the notion of giving versus being taken from, and the idea of what it would be like to have nothing swished around in my mind like a soapy sponge on last night’s dinner plate.
Today, in front of me, after a good cup of coffee, stood the unanswerable Socratic paradox, if we work to accumulate material possessions, then it would be unimaginable, or counterintuitive at the very least, to give them all away, nonetheless have them taken from our grasp? Surely running water, an insulated home, and a stove to cook food with is necessary for modern life. Case and point - that delicious cup of coffee required some boiling water to drip into the ceramic cup, not to mention the electricity that propelled the grinder blades to crush the roasted beans into a handful of sandy goodness. Surely we shouldn’t live without everything I concluded, as many of you have very long ago, but all that other stuff, you know, everything that doesn’t serve our daily needs, are all those things really necessary?
I’ve been robbed three or four times, my mom a few times, my brother at least once, my father a few times, and my various businesses in the tens of times, not to mention close friends and family that’ve fallen victim to the act countless times. What universally seems to come from robbery emotion-wise is not so much the loss of possessions, but rather the feeling of violation.
I don’t know about you, but my robber is dressed in all black, wearing a perpetual scowl on his lips wet with the fresh drool delivered from the adrenaline rush that his thievery so often delivers. My robber loves to take, destroy, and dirty the very place I call home in a way that shows he is not only a taker, but a controller. My robber hates what I love, and would kill my dogs if he knew how much it’d break my heart. My robber is forever a thug, a wild man with a heart for terror that waits for everyone to sleep so he can cowardly slip through the door and take what is not his like Bank of America tagging on new debit card fees for it’s customers.
My robber wickedly does what he can to cause strife, profit from my loss, and create chaos, fear, and hopelessness.
Here is the funny thing about the robber, he’s not up on mythology, at least not the story of the phoenix. See the phoenix of Greek lore actually ignites itself on fire after nearly a dozen centuries of life, just to see itself reborn out of her own ashes for a new life of fruitful existence. In essence the very person that exists to hurt us is helping us, freeing us from all that we own and associate with in grand fashion, allowing for our new selves to emerge in way we would never self-perpetuate. Our robber ducks in, tosses a match on our nest and resting bodies, and lights a fire of change that we would never ask for on our own account, but are so grateful for after we see the beautiful ashes the fire left in it’s wake. Given a life reimagined, what would you do different? Exactly.
Look around your living room, your office, or bedroom. Would you buy that same desk if you could? Surely you’d think twice about that snow globe with the snail in it you thought was so cool five years ago you had toss it on the checkout counter at the surf shop, or about that t-shirt you got at that Limp Bizkit concert before they were lumped in as has-beens from the nineties. If you really look around, and really ask the question, not do I need this, but how often do I use this shirt, snow globe, watch, or candleholder to better my life? If you really ask that honest question for all the items in your home, the answers might start surprising you. Nine out of ten possessions will suddenly look out of place, as there simply is no need for them anymore.
When all your belongings are taken, stolen from under your grasp, what really happens is opportunity disguised as tragedy. We are gifted by the visit from someone so greedy they take everything you own, and leave you with so much less than you would’ve ever tossed out on your own. You have nothing now, so finally you are free to live the life you know is best for you in all that wisdom you’ve acquired through the years since you purchased all those things to being with. Living with less might just provide that blank slate you wanted for so long, but never knew how to ask for, once you have a roof over your head and a stove to cook with of course.