Unlike residents up and down the east coast of America, who’ve lost everything, not through choice but due to a hurricane named Sandy, I voluntarily destroyed a part of my life… I made a choice to ‘let go’, to throw away most of my ‘possessions’.
There are always so many choices to make, but sometimes we bemoan the fact and say we have no choice. We can choose to leave, or weather the storm. The truth of the matter is that every moment in a person’s existence is a matter of choice, some things are automatic, other’s we make a conscious effort to control. Then, we say one thing but invariably go ahead and do another.
My personal epiphany occurred, through a process of ‘letting go’, a very tough jaw-breaking realisation came flooding in. What does it mean to lose everything? How important are clothes, cars, pretty pictures, fancy cutlery, twitter accounts, digital radios or even money itself? Aren’t the fundamentals really food, water, warm clothes in the winter, and perhaps some kind of roof over our heads? What value does an iPad have against a hot cup of soup when you’re starving?
Through a set of unfortunate circumstances, I find myself treading the pavements of my old home town, but seeing it much changed for the worse. Homeless people and beggars where ever I turn, money lending shops and pawn brokers in between closed down retailers, next door to ‘One Pound’ discount sellers, groups of kids staring in windows, teenage mothers wandering the streets, clearly unable to afford the price of a cup of tea. Poverty and despair on every corner.
Buddhism teaches that the secret to a happy life is detachment. Lose your attachment to all things and you will find peace. I see the wisdom in this ancient ‘wisdom’, but the irony is remarkable to. Just as Jesus tells us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear. Life is the most precious thing of all, not a diamond ring, or a holiday in the Bahamas.
When we lose something precious to us it’s right to feel scared and angry and upset, but ultimately we all lose our connection to the material world in death. So, until that moment arrives, we should be celebrating for all it’s worth. How can we when there is so much despair around us?
How can we redress the balance between those who have and those who have not? What will it take to bring some happiness, peace, and dignity, back to humanity? A homeless man that I see on the street every day asks for spare change from passers-by, they give him nothing and he replies with ‘God bless you!’ – It sounds like an insult. I am beginning to understand why people are so obsessed with TV soaps, reality programmes, pop-music icons, and celebrity dance contests. This is one game that seems impossible to bag.