We are greater than our possessions
“Being wealthy often brings even more anxiety.” Dalai Lama
I got a little too drunk. I was chewing tired gum in the passenger seat of my friend’s truck which was going 70 miles an hour down the Capital Beltway. Usually I wrap my gum to throw away later if I don’t swallow it.
That night, I guess I wanted the breeze to hit me good and hard like the alcohol had. I lifted my entire torso out of the window, losing both my gum and my glasses.
In 14 years I have never broken or lost a pair of glasses. Of course this was the best pair I’ve ever had, they cost 300 dollars, and only lasted five months. I will never forget the crunch those babes made on the highway.
The liquor heightened my senses and my friend had to stop me from trying to hurt myself physically, like a child who slams his head against the wall because he can’t get what he wants. I was furious.
Contacts and a back-up pair of glasses held me over while I waited what felt like weeks for a new pair of the same ones I so recklessly destroyed. It didn’t help that back-ups always look hideous compared to currents… like, I wore those for how long?
I told my therapist about the angry outburst I had over something so stupid, and I knew I wasn’t PMSing. I was ashamed and concerned that a material possession had enough power over me to make me want to hurt myself. I spoke about the Noble Eightfold Path to Enlightenment. Material possessions lead to desire which leads to suffering. In other words: we suffer over materials, but we don’t have to.
Add this to the infinite list of the benefits of being mindful. They offer steps to becoming calm in situations like mine. First is always breathing. Second is allowing yourself to step back and look objectively at the issue- look at yourself; look at the object. We are greater than objects, therefore objects should not control our emotions. Things come and go on a regular basis, but we stay to become stronger.
Phones, gadgets, and the latest and greatest should not keep us happy or make us angry. When I mentioned the Buddhist teachings with my therapist, I was able to let go of the glasses and forget about the money I spent twice for them. I looked forward to their new arrival, but had released my anger. Shit happens… all the time.
I am wearing my new pair as I write this. I got my thing back, but I did not get back time or dignity I spent abusive and sad.
During our very next session, my therapist told me she had drank alcohol for the first time since having a baby. Because she was intoxicated she did not totally secure her water bottle before placing it in her purse, where her 800 dollar iPhone drowned. Instead of letting anger drag on for long, she took a deep breath, thought about my story, and came to almost immediate peace over losing such a seemingly important piece of her life.