Impermanence

April 19, 2008

The idea that manufactured objects are permanent is wrong. Things that we possess are not unending artifacts, that once created must be protected and preserved against loss. We are not stewards of our possessions. They are tools to be used temporarily along the way on our life’s journey.

During a news video I saw about a particular military-style rifle, they mentioned that 100,000 of this model of rifle was sold each year in the USA. It got me thinking, “That’s a lot of guns! I wonder where they all go?” How many will be stored away in cabinets, how many lost in a lake on a hunting trip, broken and thrown away, or taken apart and recycled into other metal things? Most of the time we only see a product as it’s being advertised when it’s all new and shiny. They are remembered as advertised, not as they really are when rust and wear begin to consume them.

When I buy something and use it, the thing seems to become woven into the fabric of my life. If it’s damaged, then I repair it and the effort spent to repair it is an investment in that thing. An investment of time, attention and emotion. A scrape on a car bumper that is painted over adds character to the car. A favorite jacket that is torn during an accident can be stitched up, and there will be a story to tell, of me and my jacket and how we have both made it to this point. But at some point the car will wear out and the jacket will become threadbare. While the object itself fades, my emotional bond to it does not. How can the memory of an object’s service to my life be honored? Or does that even matter.

Gotta think of all things as disposable, replaceable, temporary. Fight the instinct to preserve all that is owned in the face of continual entropy. Nothing lasts forever.

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2 Responses to “Impermanence”

  1. Patricia Says:

    Why don’t you go cold turkey and sell everything on ebay? At least a couple of people have done it, as you probably know. Why delay the freedom you so desire?


  2. Hi Patricia, I’ve heard about someone who sold everything on ebay to publicize a book he was writing. I am not looking for publicity, I genuinely want to improve my life. For this process to be effective therapy I should work through it at my own pace. If I could just let everything go at once then there wouldn’t be a problem!


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