You have things. Just not all to yourself.

With a sense of “I” comes the desire to own things – and even people. This can be crazy confusing, given that we have our bodies, our lives, and our dreams, which qualify us for all rights human. We delineate “healthy boundaries” using what we think belongs to us as bargaining chips. This sacred “me” must stand apart, stand out, and stand strong. And it’s all true – except for the word “own.” It is more likely that we borrow.

My body is made of atoms, which have been recycled by forms since a supernova exploded and provided the primeval soup for our solar system. We literally don’t know where our atoms have been – perhaps part of a cactus, a kangaroo, Benjamin Franklin, or all of the above. When I die, my atoms will be swept up into another form to participate in its strong sense of “I,” and then into another.

You may agree that I borrow the atoms of my body, but what about my belongings? Maybe I have land, cars, herds of cows, or buildings – surely these belong to me? In truth, anything my eye falls upon had been claimed before by someone else. Even the land I walk upon has been fought over and over again. A footprint is not a stamp of ownership, and time’s ocean swallows all footprints. So, I borrow all of my belongings.

What about my soul? Surely that belongs to “me” alone? It is what makes my life unique, is it not? Perhaps the configuration of the soul does strike a unique cord amidst the harmony of the universe, but even my soul is not immortal. The soul is eventually transcended and flows into the life that birthed all souls – including mine. So, I cannot even claim ownership of my soul without simultaneously surrendering all that I may believe I am.

If I do not and cannot own anything to revel in immortality, what is there to hold onto? Where is this legacy that humanity is so hardwired to want to leave behind?

We long for static things to matter and look to freeze something in time – some rock of ages. But eternity rests in flux, not form. Eternity is flow and not stagnant mirror pools. Eternity slips through fingers, bodies, planets, stars, and galaxies. Every claim must be surrendered, eventually.

Because we own nothing does not mean we that we mean nothing. We have not yet shifted to embrace that which changes as the primary and are tone-deaf to the keynotes of our existence.

But, because there is only change, we will eventually open to such music – body, mind, and soul. Because there is change, this too shall pass. How would our lives change if we knew that we borrow rather than own?

6 thoughts on “You have things. Just not all to yourself.”

  1. Intense question with profound implications! My immediate response is that it changes EVERYthing, from my need to “protect” my stuff (and me) to the things I pursue in life…

    Then I walk it back a bit, realizing you said “borrow, not own,” which implies some of that “stuff” IS mine for a while, especially that which is part of “me.” So maybe not so radically changing my life after all…

    I mean, all of this is temporary anyway; I’ve known that all along. We are all dying from the day we are born, and we can’t take our physical possessions with us. My sense of self hangs on a little tighter, but even it can (and has!) been shed before.

    So perhaps what changes most for me is simply my perspective, my attitude, my possessiveness. For if I truly believe that everything is “borrowed, not owned,” I am more likely to hold it loosely and be grateful for it. I am also more motivated to take good care of it. And mostly, I am urged to stay more present, in the now, to enjoy it more fully while it is in my temporary possession.

    1. This feels very profound
      “I am more likely to hold it loosely and be grateful for it. I am also more motivated to take good care of it. And mostly, I am urged to stay more present, in the now, to enjoy it more fully while it is in my temporary possession.”
      Thank you

      1. Thank you for posting this. My life “erupted” this week on a couple different fronts. I did not buckle under pressure, and I managed to stay focused in the moment. But now that the pressure is off, I find myself trying to integrate the whole experience into the framework of my life…

        Your timing, of course, is impeccable, as it reminded me to shift the weights a bit. Nothing is as dire as it feels, nothing is permanent. You reminded me of that… 😀

  2. I believe our need to hold on so tight would relax. I also believe we would experience a different response to letting go when the time comes. We might also be more willing to give back!

Leave a Reply