Why do you attach your sense of well-being to stuff?
It’s an old question, certainly. And whenever I ask myself, I always come back to one thought: no matter how much material success I may have in this life, everything I see is temporary.
That certainly doesn’t stop us from attaching our sense of security to what we have attained, especially if it’s taken us a significant amount of time and/or effort to attain. Indeed, attaching our sense of safety to possessions is the epidemic of the modern age, at least in the Western world, where materialism is the status quo.
But when I think back on my time on the Big Island of Hawaii, I must admit that, even though I wasn’t making much money, I nonetheless felt quite secure in my lifestyle there.
And frankly, it began even before Hawaii, when I’d exposed myself to the unpredictabilities, risks, and rewards of long-term, solo travel. If you’ve been reading Byteful Travel for a few years, you’ve already read about many of my adventures, the risks and rewards of those experiences. Thankfully, such experiences were, on the whole, very enjoyable (not to mention provided me with plenty of growth-inducing stories that I share with you).
The Most Valuable Lesson
The point is, Hawaii taught me many valuable lessons, but as my time away from it increases, I’ve realized that perhaps the most valuable lesson of all was realizing the answer to that age old question: “Are you really safe here?”
Well, are you?
I’ve observed so many people trying to create a sense of security through outward possessions and attainments. The work of the philosopher Alan Watts discusses this in detail — how we in the West are so attached to possessions and circumstances.
But circumstances change rapidly (especially on a volcanic island) and living there proved to be a crash-course in the non-permanence of all things. These days, possessions seem more like grains of sand on a beach to me. They flow in and out of my life at the perfect time.
I moved three times during my nearly 1.5 year stint on Hawaii. And yes, each time it was a little scary. Moving is never without stress. But I wasn’t alone.
Maybe it was because I’d cultivated good relationships, or maybe it was because (as I would like to believe) the Universe itself was looking out for me (probably both), but something always worked out. Even when I moved, a friend manifested in the right place in the right time to help me move the few possessions I had with her car.
If I can feel and experience as much (or more) joy and security than someone in a more traditional situation, then is the feeling of well-being and security directly connected to money at all? Many people turn money into their sole power source, but is that really true? Does the power come from the number or from the energy you bring to it? How many people do you know, who are outwardly successful, are also rather terrified at losing what they have gained?
Where does the true happiness lie? The truth is, when you align with love, you know that you are safe.
Are you really safe here?
How you answer the question defines the attitude of your entire life: all of your actions, your thoughts, and your beliefs.
As for me, I’ve experienced enough to know that I am safe here. What about you? How might your life change if you decided that you were at all times, safe, secure, and centered?
Possessions pass away; but love, contribution, and joy are eternal.