You Can Have It When I’m Done With It

We are a possessive bunch aren’t we?  Think for a second of all the things that are yours.  Your car, your house, your keys, your shoes, your hat, your TV, your gum, your wallet, your underwear.  Those things are yours and yours alone.  You own them.

We do the same thing with places.  That’s my office, my neighborhood, my hometown, my school, my country.

And of course, we do it with people too.  I’d like to introduce you to my wife, my son, my daughter, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my friend, my neighbor, my niece, my associate, my boss.  And where is my waiter?

Truth is, though, we really and truly own nothing.  No one thing, no one place, no one person.  Not even ourselves.  One day the body will give out and your body will no longer be your body because you will be no longer.  When that happens, your wallet is just a wallet.  Your car will be sold to someone else and become her car.  Your clothes will be given to the poor and become his clothes.  Your job will be given to someone else who will take your office and answer to your boss and work with your associates, who will now be his boss and his associates and he’ll hang a picture of his family in his new office.  Your keys will be passed around to the others who take possession of what was once your house, your car, your office, your locker, your storage room, and the other thirty keys you’d been carrying around for years with no idea what they go to will be dumped because the mystery of what they unlock will be someone else’s mystery and they won’t be able to figure it out either.  Hopefully your underwear will be thrown away.

Your wife will become a widow.  She’ll either stay a widow or become someone else’s wife.  Your neighbors will get new neighbors.  Your parents, kids, and blood family will still own you: “When my Dad was alive he used to….” but you’ll no longer own them.

Even the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat is temporary, all to be recycled and eventually used by someone else, at least for the moment.

The old saying, “You can’t take it with you” is true because you can’t take what isn’t yours, and nothing is yours.

So we spend all this time, energy, and money collecting things to call our own, but it’s a fool’s game because the reality is that that’s impossible.  Everything we think we own, we only rent.  We have it for a short time, and then it isn’t ours anymore.  It is left behind for someone else.  And so, we should give more thought to what we put our time and energies into, with the knowledge that what we’re collecting we are collecting to leave to others.

New people take over your house, and you are forgotten.  Strangers take over your neighborhood and you are forgotten.  The memory of you will, in a generation or two, be almost completely forgotten.  All that will last is the memories you leave for the people you shared the ride with, and when they’re gone, so too are those memories, and that’s about as permanent as it gets.

So cultivate good memories to leave behind for those few people who will carry them when you’re gone, and know that the rest of it is just someone else’s future garbage, then adjust your priorities accordingly.

And try to clean your underwear really well, just in case some asshole decides to make rags out of them instead of throwing them away.

13 thoughts on “You Can Have It When I’m Done With It

  1. “My ” thoughts are that this post, although slightly depressing, ties in well with the “little things ” post. I too stress about all these little things , mostly in a quest to make money for things that will never be mine. I think it’s time to focus on making the good memories!

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  2. Oh ya, and they say your mistakes are the only things you can truly call your own. Is this permission to now chalk them up as someone else’s garbage? Cause I have a big locker full of them…

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  3. Our memories are the only true thing we own. I always try to capture those with pictures to pass on to future generations. Love the writings by the way.

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  4. This is a fantastic post! I agree with everything you said, and this might be the idealist in me, but what you are doing is out there for all of time, while memories might be the only things we “keep,” your words will go on. I am a huge believer in leave the world a little better than you found it. That is what this is. So while YOU can’t take it with you, others can remember you throughout time because of the actions you do today. Great postings!!!!!!!!

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    • Wow, thank you Megan. I’m touched. I just heard a quote the other day and I can’t remember who said it or where I heard it but it said something along the lines of ‘writers are people who are afraid of dying’. I guess we write so that a part of us lives after we’re gone. The best way to live on though, as you said, is in how you positively affect the lives of others, and I know that is what you are dedicating your life to, and as a result YOU will live on through your actions. Thank you again.

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  5. As far as we know, death SEEMS to negates everything about life, but since we don’t know anything at all about what comes after death, that just my best guess. Ownership only matters while you are alive, as far as we know. While we are here, however, we own things, while we have them. We own our house, unless the government decides that THEY want it. Strangers off the street cannot walk in and start living in my house. It’s my house and I own it. Everything is only for the moment, that’s all there is, but the house is mine while I’m here and own it. Ownership exists, even if temporarily. We have the “right” of ownership, so we can do what we want with the stuff we “own.” My kids are my kids and no one can just walk up and say they belong to him or her and TAKE them. When they are adults things change. You can’t own a person, you can be responsible for them and they are yours but they are not “goods,” like a house. They are ALIVE and that makes a difference. People are not things. Things can be owned. Long term doesn’t matter with ownership, it only matters while you own it. But ownership does exist. New people live in your old house because it was yours to sell. You owned it but now you may own something else instead. You had to own it in order to sell it. Rape happens when someone decides that another person DOESN’T OWN HER OWN BODY. No one owns the air. The air is part of the environment that we are busy destroying. The air can’t be sold…no ownership. However, airspace can be kind of owned by governments and you can be shot down if you fly over places where you are not welcome. If I ever drive by my childhood home that’s what it will still be, MY childhood home, no matter who lives in it now. When I was a child I lived there and that will never change. That that’s where I grew up and where my handprint can still be seen in the cement by the gate. If you get divorced you just change partners. You never owned your spouse, you just agreed to hang out for as long as you felt like it. You can’t sell each other…no ownership. You can sell your car, it’s yours. Ownership, makes life as we know it, possible. It stops people from taking things from other people, unless they have a gun. It’s illegal to take what other people own. The city owns the park so it’s their responsibility to care for it but it is a public space so everyone can use and enjoy it. If an individual owned the park then the public could not freely use it. Ownership. As individuals it only matters what we own while we’re alive but buying and selling and having and not having is all ABOUT ownership. There is nothing else. That is what makes up society. Ownership. You own your cup of coffee, no one can just walk up to you and take it. After you drink it you can keep or throw away the cup because you bought it, you own it, you can do what you like with it. It doesn’t matter that the coffee is gone. You owned it while you had it and that’s all that ever matters.

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    • I understand what you’re saying. Of course a woman owns her body and when we start to think otherwise it leads us down a dangerous path. My post was pointed at the materialism and overconsumption at the expense of things that matter more. Since it ultimately, maybe not in the moment, but ultimately becomes garbage or someone else’s, be selective in what you devote your time and energies to because nothing is yours forever. The seeds of this post were planted as I drove past a cemetery and watched all the tombstones blur by.

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