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.