On Our Relationship to Things

The thought came a wee bit into a mild mushroom trip. As my wife and I laid on the furry carpet absorbing the heat from our fireplace, we reminisced with Ryan, a close friend of mine from college, who I hadn’t spoken with in a hot minute. As the Australians would say, he’s a good cunt!

We came to the topic of his trusty Toyota Sienna and how it was nearing the 300k mile mark. We discussed the countless adventures it had been on, as well as the unique squeaks and grunts that a car of such age and road wisdom inevitably makes. I, too owned a Toyota Sienna that nearly eclipsed the 300k mile mark, until it was viciously attacked by a black bear in the dead of night while driving highway speeds. Tragically, both the bear and the Sienna did not make it. While I certainly felt rotten about killing the bear, in some ways, it was an uncommon and fitting end for such an adventure partner. (Side note, as I sat in the car with my then-girlfriend waiting for a tow truck to arrive, we listened to a CD of Elton John’s greatest hits as my van’s radiator bled out. On that CD was the track “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” That was the first time I heard that song, and I have no idea why, but sitting there in the darkness, the end of an era upon me, that song hit me deep. To me, it felt like the perfect serenade to send off my four-wheeled stallion. I played that song at least five times as we lounged, buckled in. It was both comical and emotional. While I’m no longer with said girlfriend, this is one of the moments from that period in my life that I think back to often, and I’m always so grateful she was there with me that night. For a handful of reasons, that specific period of my life held its challenges and its struggles, and it meant a lot to have her as a companion, both in that moment and in that time. And I still love that fucking song.)

Talking about our steeds, I began to ponder the relationship we have to the plethora of things in our lives. Those of us fortunate enough are often able to acquire things in a strictly transactional manner. Many times, we see the items we purchase as objects of servitude, resources obtained solely for performing some specific purpose in our lives, in complete service to us. Such an unemotional relationship to the stuff we own may not be entirely bad in every case. The worshipping of goods is certainly not a blueprint for satisfaction and contentment. Maybe though, there is another way to relate to what we have. As the world ever-so-slightly pulsated in front of my eyeballs (da mushrooms), I thought, “Maybe, on some level, it’s okay to love the stuff we own, to have a fondness and attachment to those items- a level of care and positive feeling for their existence in one’s life.” Now, I’m not saying anyone should fuck their toaster, different kind of love I’m talkin’ bout here.

What I am saying is that rather than mindlessly and dispassionately using shit, maybe there is some value to forming an emotional bond with some of these items, truly being grateful for the pleasure or convenience they provide, and remembering their contributions to notable or fond moments in one’s life. Obviously, a balance must be struck, things should never be valued over people, and becoming overly consumed with or attached to things is not the point. But recognize that we live in an amazing time, where we have access to some pretty incredible tools, toys, and inventions. While we don’t need them for our happiness, we can be appreciative of the opportunities they afford us.

I did not cry when my Toyota Sienna died that night. I was bummed though. For one, because I had to buy a new car, but also, because it really was the end of an era. That car had been such a reliable tool in my life, had hauled me and my friends around to wonderful places (since childhood!), and had enabled incredible moments that will stay with me. Rarely did that car let me down. For every adventure and every casual errand in my life that van facilitated, I am forever indebted.

RIP, you beautiful bastard.

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