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Yours, Mine, OURS

Who decided that accumulation of the ‘most’ wins.  What if our success was measured by having the least amount of stuff, rather than the max.  What if we considered it a triumph to have the smallest home on the block instead of the largest.  What if owning was less cool than loaning. What if that childhood lesson in sharing stayed with us. What if you took only what you actually need and shared everything you already have.  What if ‘community’ were the currency that people banked, instead of money.

I have often wondered about the concept of ‘owning’ and the fact that we like to attach to things, to call them ‘mine’, to identify items by their belonging.  We focus on how much we have as though the more we acquire, the more we have achieved and the more significant our lives. And while many might argue that ownership brings with it a sense of pride, the feeling that we have somehow done it right and done it well, I think it also breeds a different kind of feeling; a feeling of lack that leads to a comparison between scarcity and abundance, a place of envy and greed, where ‘enough’ is never really ‘enough’.

What happens to all this ‘stuff’ we acquire is that we become emotional about it,  we want more or better or bigger; we are only ever temporarily satisfied. The more something costs or the more difficult it is to attain, the more tightly we hold on; our grip is in direct proportion to what it took to finally get it and own it. The tighter the grip, the harder it is to soften your hold, and to offer that item up for others, to share, to enjoy, to borrow, to hold, to have, or to keep.  Rather than recognizing it for what it is, a ‘thing’, we attach emotion to it. The closer we bring it to us, the further from others it becomes; we become guarded and reluctant to share it; we feel the need to keep it near.  We fear what might happen if we take it out of our sight and out of our space.  We think about the hard-earned money that it took to acquire it, and that we deserve to have it.  We longed for it, then worked hard to get it and now we work even harder to keep it.

If we were more honest with ourselves, many of us might admit that we already have everything we need, and so much more.  What if we had a shift in thinking, and loosened our grip.   What if we started to consider everything as belonging to all, part of a larger community of things, and freed ourselves of the attachment, and the longing.  Perhaps if we focused on need instead of want, we could let more of what we have go; to those who need it,  who are living with less or living with different, who might benefit from it now , who could return it to us later.

What if we simply found a way to fill their need with what we have, knowing it might make something easier for someone else, saving them time, money, energy.    What if we gave away more than we gathered, fought the feeling and found the freedom of loaning what is ours, rather than owning what is mine.   Imagine what we could accomplish if we pooled our resources, and made as much as possible, communal.  We could share much more than the community rink, the neighbourhood swimming pool, and the city bike path.

What if we then extended our understanding and our willingness to share, beyond our table and our townhouse, knowing that no man is an island and all life is connected. We could move beyond those who share our bloodline and our border and begin to see everything as ‘ours’ and nothing as ‘mine’ or ‘yours’.   We wouldn’t need to make the beach private, buy an island, own a mountain, or restrict airspace. We could leave the shells on the beach, the wood in the forest, the art in the gallery, and we could learn to hold something without having it and to share our gifts with grace.

Yours Mine OURS March 29 post

Photography credit: Andrew Chambers Photography (andrew.chambers@live.ca)


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