What is it that we really have in this life? I’ve been thinking a lot about the verb “to have,” and two basic concepts of “having” occur to me – one being in terms of possession, the other in terms of embracing.
The first notion, possession, is about owning stuff, accruing material things, holding on to life physically and emotionally. It’s acquisitive, accumulative and quantitative, it’s about obtaining things in life that we attach ourselves to in some way…like relationships and families, good jobs, nice homes, big salaries, lots of friends and social activities, travel and luxuries.
Having, as such, often leads to judgment, usually of ourselves. How much do you have? How much do I have? Do I measure up if I don’t have as much as you have? Have, in the outward sense, the material sense, the quantitative sense. But all of these things that we acquire in life are transitory – we can’t take them with us when we leave. So in the end it doesn’t really matter how much we own.
Having as possessing is also about experiencing the world, having experiences – direct observation or participation in an event, in other words. And in this sense, having seems like a bridge to the next idea, embracing, which is more about what’s ours intrinsically, qualitatively, spiritually.
This level of having is not about stuff, it’s about who we are underneath all the trappings and our personal evolution into the beings we were meant to be. “I have a big heart.” “I have depth and compassion.” “I have vision.” These are things you can’t see. And maybe because qualities are essentially invisible (although their results are often not), it is these very things that define who we really are. We are spiritual non-form soul beings originally, having a physical human experience, all the while embracing, including, containing within us non-physical soul qualities.
As I’ve aged, owning stuff in the world has lost its appeal for me, especially more stuff than I truly need in order to feel happy and contented. We pay a dear price for all that getting and all that holding on to that we humans do. With fewer material things in our possession, we have room to embrace our soul qualities, to let them speak for who we are, to let our inner light shine.
“The less there is, the more important all of it becomes” (source unknown). What I have now is more important than ever and defines me far better than anything I’ve ever possessed. I have integrity, self honesty, creativity, artistic vision, joyful solitude, a big heart, a tender soul, and so much more. I have the ability to see how beautiful the world is, to turn away from anything in life that threatens my inner peace, to nurture my soul, to continually become myself.
Money and possessions simply can’t take the place of the inner security that’s part and parcel of embracing who we are on the inside. These qualities are the only things worth having in the end.
Collage by Connie Rose
Connie Rose is a textile designer and digital photographer. She has been an artist and been on a personal healing journey for over forty years. She lives in rural Humboldt County, California.