Hello, Lovely readers,
Back with another thought-provoking post.
Spencer W. Kimball once said
“Love people, not things; use things, not people”.
At first glance, this quote feels like the answer to everything that is going wrong in this world. Yet, like all great philosophical learnings, it is easier said than done.
As humans, we tend to build a relationship with not just other living beings but with inanimate objects as well. Whether it is people or things, we strive for possession. A feeling of ownership. The things we own often become an extension of the self which we then use to signal to the world where we belong or want to belong. For example, the type or ‘brand’ of car, watch or house that a person owns tells a lot about where he/she stands in society.
I own a stack of hundred-odd books collected over a period of time that I cannot think of giving up. I have read them all years ago and given my ever-growing TBR list, I don’t think I am ever going to reread any of them. Yet, when someone suggests I donate or lend these books there is a sense of uneasiness, a reluctance.
Writing this article made me wonder why I feel so attached to these books. I looked around and found that the books were not the only things in my house that I had grown attached to over the years and could not even think of letting go.
Philosophical learnings teach us to feel guilty for our attachment to materialistic things. Call it an unhealthy mindset, weakness or a flaw. But, I believe it is only a part of being human.
But why is it that we find it easier to invest our time, energy and emotions in things than in people?
Fear of disappointment
Emotional investment in people often leads to pain, sorrow and disappointment. From unrequited love to broken or abandoned relationships there is an expectation which when failed, leaves people feeling deprived and worthless.
Things on the other hand give us a feeling of full ownership with no expectation of returns. With things, the fear of disappointment is low and thanks to materialism it leaves you with a feeling of accomplishment.
Fear of tampered memories
When you invest your time and emotions in someone it takes the form of memories – cherished and treasured by you. In the future, at some point, if you have a fallout with that person, the memories get tampered with. Your brain and its self-preservation mechanism do not let you think of the memories the same way. On the other hand, memories linked to inanimate things tend to stay the same forever.
Feeling of immortality
It is not uncommon for people especially in the middle and older age groups to spend a fortune or their lifetime of savings in creating a memorial – a golden crown for the deity in their village shrine, a structure named after them for a generous donation and the likes.
All of us in our own way seek immortality and strive to leave a mark in the world. Some through their work, some through possessions and some through kindness. Of the three, leaving a possession behind, an heirloom of sorts – a beautiful house, expensive jewellery, a piece of land on mars – is probably the easiest. Things tend to live longer if not forever thus giving people the sense and hope of immortality.
In the bigger scheme of life, it is often easier to let go of things you love for the sake of your loved once. For instance, many have had to sell their jewellery, heirlooms and even their family home to save a loved one fighting death.
But life is not always about the big things. It is a conglomeration of all the little things – choices, sacrifices, compromises and trade-offs between loving things and loving people. I believe, the key to happiness is in choosing what things and what people are worth loving and to what extent.
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- Shikhandini – Warrior Princess of the Mahabharata (ebook and paperback)
- Those Girls – A Tale of Perspectives (ebook)