Where we are can mean a lot to us because we get attached to each location. Sometimes it’s passive, sometimes we intentionally make a space “ours”. We fall in love with the familiar and learn to judge our happiness based on how far we are from our idea of “home”.
After leaving my dorm for winter vacation I was temporarily relocated just across town. For some reason I was incredibly stressed about both moves; leaving my “home” of two months and then moving back. It seemed like every detail of both moves was a life or death situation and I dreaded each second of it. I attached to each location and couldn’t separate from either. My concept of home had become dynamic but it didn’t prevent the stress of leaving a familiar location.
One of the big things I thought I was going to learn with my job was adaptability. However, I confused the terms “adaptability” and “attachment”. Getting my job didn’t make me any less attached to each location or any of my possessions, it just forced me to become adaptable. Adaptability is the ability to change but adaptability doesn’t make the person accept the change. It just makes them more able to change.
Detachment causes adaptability because you are no longer desiring or anticipating certain outcomes. When you run across a bump in the road, you don’t get angry or upset. Adaptability merely refers to the actions and not the mindset.
When I returned to my old dorm room I opened my closet of possessions and felt happy. Immediately after feeling happy I had the realization that I was incredibly attached to my possessions. My possessions were what was creating my feelings of happiness. My items and familiarity with those items brought me happiness.
This is analogous to a rotten apple. From the outside it may look sweet and desirable but underneath there is just rot. The happiness was created on the surface with these items but underneath there was the fear of becoming separated from them. It was not really happiness, it was just satisfaction of possession. I was happy that I possessed these items again.
Attachment is incredibly difficult to overcome. To become detached, one has to openly embrace and accept the unknown. They must venture that they cannot know what is about to come. They could lose all their possessions or they could win the lottery. There’s a duality there where a person finds peace. You accept that you just don’t know if you’re going to win the lottery or lose it all.
Someone who wants to become detached must first work on the their possessiveness of their possessions. They must realize that everything they own could vanish at any given moment. If they can accept that, then they will have gratitude for everything they have. Whether that be friendships or fancy dinner plates.
For the next week I’m going to focus on removing myself from everything. Not retreat similar to isolation but rather removing my ownership of everything. My friends are not my friends, they are just people who I hang around. The clothing in my closet is just temporary clothing I use to cover my body. My body is not me, I am just an occupant in it. This time is not my time, it is just time passing by. When someone uses a lot of time, they are not using “my time” they are just using time. I cannot get mad at someone for just using time, I can only get mad when they are using “my” time.
It sounds ridiculous to say nothing is ours but none of it is really “ours”. This dorm that I live in is not my home. It is a home – it is a place. I may own it on paper or for the next five months but it is not really mine. It just is. I cannot change it, I can only accept it as what it is. As a place.
Putting expectations on it will only lead to unhappiness. One day I could walk to the door and find that I have been transferred to another location. I could find the room burglarized. The building could collapse and all of the things in the room could be destroyed by a fire. We do not really own anything. The things just are.
When we detach and realize that we own nothing, we come to a realization that we usually cannot control. Many things will just be as they are and we do not have the ability to change them. The things we thought we owned suddenly are shared and are independent of us. When I move rooms, I will not feel sad because I do not associate myself with this room. This room is just a room. It is not my room.
The room is not the memories that I built in it. The room is just a place. Leaving the room does not mean leaving the memories behind. If running shoes in the closet disappeared, I will not be saddened because I am not attached to them. The shoes are just shoes. They temporarily supported my feet and if they disappear, I do not worry. They are not mine, they just are. Having them disappear does not make me any less of a person. I am not less because I own less.
This is a practice that I’m going to focus on this week. I need to detach myself from anticipating the future. I do not own it and I cannot control it. I should just accept it as it comes along. There are no “should-have-been”s, there are just “are”s. The tests are here, the sky is blue, the fruit is rotten. I need to forget that tests are stressful, blue skies mean that it’s probably cold outside, and that rotten fruit is bad. None of this is necessarily true. It is only the adjectives we place on the words that brings us unhappiness. Putting an adjective with them that defines them as “good” or bad”, something we like or something we dislike. Just let the experience be and don’t define or attach to it.
Coming back to the room was an enlightening experience because it made me realize that I was too attached to my things. I anticipated what I would do with them and that I had expectations of them. In this case they made me happy but maybe next time they will be gone. That time I will not become unhappy, I will just accept what is in that moment.
Right now I’m changing how I think about what “home” is. A home is a place and that place for me is this moment. Then it is now this moment. It is always changing and I will always have to accept that. Home is not where I am physically, nor is it where I am mentally. It is when the two cross and I choose to live. I hope that you will also choose to live at those crossroads and remove yourself from “your” possessions.