I saw this NPR article the other day about how attached people get to their sofas. I thought it was an incredibly bizarre thing to write about because I’ve never felt a profound attachment to my sofa. I was thinking about it, though, and I am a bit attached to some of my other possessions. I really like my yoga mat and my teapot. I’m probably most attached to my handbag though, because I’ve had it for years and it has been with to so many corners of the world. Many people have suggested that I get a new bag- my aunt even begs me to let her buy one for me. Instead, I sit and sew patches over patches every time a new hole appears because it feels like an old friend, not just an object.
I try very hard not to get attached to things, because all things are temporary (people are temporary too, but they tend to get their feelings hurt when you explain that you’re not attached to them). Monks and priests of all sorts of different denominations understand the idea of remaining unattached to worldly things, and I think it’s a noble goal. On the one hand, it’s not good to be wasteful as a result of being unattached, but on the other hand, it’s important to be able to let go and move on- both in terms of things that are too broken to fix and people you’ve outgrown.
At the same time, the world isn’t as much fun if you don’t get attached to things once in awhile. It would be a boring place if you only had utilitarian objects that didn’t make you smile once in awhile- I like getting up in the morning to use my bright green tea kettle and I like to see my frog-shaped humidifier in the corner of my room. I like having friends and getting to know people. I understand that these are not essential on the path to ultimate enlightenment, but as long as they don’t get in the way I don’t think it’s a problem to enjoy things like this. I don’t advocate frivolous consumerism by any means, but we’re going to be around in this world for awhile before we move on to the next one, so why not keep around a few things and people to make it more exciting?
You can get as attached to them as you want, as long as you recognise that nothing is permanent and you are prepared to one day let go. As you continue your quest for happiness, your mindsets will change and you might find some of your friends drifting away and others moving closer- perhaps it’s time to let them go their way while you go yours. Maybe that old hobo bag you really love just isn’t efficient anymore because of all the time it takes to mend the holes.
Enjoy attachment to possessions and people while they’re around, but do not depend on them for your happiness. Be prepared to one day let everything go when you move on to an exciting new phase!