A while ago, a friend of mine, Brian, borrowed my car to take his brother John to a town about thirty miles away. About two hours later, a policeman knocked on the door to tell that I had been in a car accident and that I was in A&E. Well, it wasn’t me. Brian had put his face through the steering wheel in a head-on smash, and it was a long time before he looked like Brian again.I digress, what I am thinking about is how I hadn’t realised how important the car was to me until it had been destroyed. I was glad that both Brian and John had survived, and I wouldn’t put the importance of the car above their lives but, to be honest, I was really upset at the loss the car.
It wasn’t a flash, posh or expensive car. It was a small, white Renault Four. It was simply that me and that car had been through a lot together; it was full of memories and emotions, good and bad. It was my emotional self, invested in the car, that had been lost, that had been written off. I was in bereavement, feeling that a part of me had been lost forever, and in a way it was.
In my life, I have met many people, some with many possessions, and some with very few, though I soon realised that the monk with his bed roll, food bowl, change of clothes and a couple of books is attached to his possessions just as much as the billionaire with half a dozen cars and several houses. It is only a matter of scale.
The things that we own are, in some way, extensions of who we are and how we see ourselves. Therefore, the things that we go to the trouble to get are, in some way, important to us. On the face of it, this importance may be practical, as with tools, or beautiful, as in art, or self-enhancing, as in clothes. In the end, it all comes down to the meaning that we put on, or invest in, something.
The things that we own are, in some way, extensions of who we are and how we see ourselves
In that sense, things are never inanimate because they are filled with the life that we give them through the meaning that they hold for us. A bag is just a bag, or a pen is just a pen until the word “my” is put in front of it. When it is “mine”, its meaning changes completely. The investment that we make in things is far greater than their cost; it is an investment made from our emotional self.
It always amazes me that someone’s possessions, that were so important to them and their life, simply become mere “effects” once they have died, and are then cast into a skip as meaningless rubbish by those for whom they have no meaning.
Because we enliven our possessions with our own meaningfulness, there is a great potential to have that meaningfulness abused when our things are used, borrowed or shared by others. I have lent many books that have come back with broken spines, bent pages, tea stains, and in one case, written in. I once lent someone a “man bag” that reappeared with dry yogurt in it, and I have bought so many copies of The Secret DVD, all borrowed by people adamant that they would return them, never to be seen again.
Sharing can be a dangerous thing to do for both giver and taker. When we borrow, or use something that belongs to another person we are really using that person. Unless we understand the emotional attachment that the lender has invested in the “thing”, we can easily become an abuser. And if we are the victim of insensitive borrowers, we can easily feel abused.
In relationships, we share ourselves in a very real sense, and the potential for emotional abuse increases greatly.
Of course, sharing goes beyond things and possessions. In relationships, we share ourselves in a very real sense, and the potential for emotional abuse increases greatly. In a good relationship, we treat each other with emotional awareness that takes into account the emotional investment that we have each made in our own ideas, values and morals, and together we grow. In a bad relationship, we use each other without awareness and we both suffer. Anyone who shares, in any situation, opens them self to be abused. That is the risk of living, and in the main, life is a risk worth taking.
I have, generally, seen myself as someone who is a generous sharer. I would always share my food, and often my money, I easily share my time, and will share my thoughts and feelings. I do share books, though these days I keep a log so that I can book them in and out. Overall, I am ok about sharing things but I hate it when they are abused, when people break or damage them. I am also phobic about losing information and as I spend a lot of hours writing, I hate people using my computers, it is so easy to lose information.
So this week, when some well-meaning soul deleted one hundred and four gigabytes from my main computer, I found myself in a hinterland betwixt anger and bereavement. Thankfully, I had it all backed up. The recovery is slow. Today I should complete 32.54 GB, but it will take another day and a half to restore it all. Hey ho as they say.
The stupid thing about sharing is that it is this very thing that has enabled us human beings to be as successful as we have been. It is the shared technology, science and social development that has unified our race, accepting wars, and the hungry, and the disease; well, maybe we have some to learn about sharing!