Our possessions will all rust, bust or turn to dust

My friend was lamenting the yellowing pillows she had found stored away at the top of a cupboard in the home of her childhood. They had been kept there in the expectation that they might be needed one day.

They never were, and there she was, some decades later, helping her parents downsize, sorting crockery and family treasures and helping to decide what should be kept and what should be sold or thrown away. She wished that the pillows had been given away when they might have been of use to someone, instead of joining the rubbish pile.

Pillows stored away for a rainy day.Credit:Edwina Pickles

Life is like this. We stop ourselves from giving a compliment because we think it might sound weird. We withhold instant forgiveness for someone’s perceived transgression, preferring to let our displeasure be felt, fully expecting that at some point in the future we will thaw and bestow our forgiveness. What if that time never comes? What if life is shorter than we think, leaving that moment of reconciliation suspended forever?

Holding on to too many possessions can be restrictive. Having too many things acts like a filter, putting a barrier between us and the natural world. Counterintuitively, it is the things we give away that keep their value in our memory.

We all need the same basic things: a roof over our head and food, money and clothes sufficient for our needs. Despite this, we grow attached to many other things.

What if life is shorter than we think, leaving that moment of reconciliation suspended forever?

There was a scoop-necked long floral dress that I wore on the rare occasion when we allowed ourselves a proper restaurant meal when backpacking around Europe. The dress retained the memories of those carefree, adventurous days even many years later. Yet, its time had passed for me, and I gave it away, glad to think it might have life in it yet for someone else and wasn’t condemned to sit quietly in my cupboard forever more.

None of our possessions can come with us when we reach the end of our lives. They will all rust, bust or turn to dust.

It is people that matter, and hearts and souls, and the gift of nature that presents us with astonishing beauty and variety in which many see the creative hand of God.

Treading softly through the world, living simply with a clear-eyed and humble appreciation of what the world provides, taking what we need, giving what we can, is what it means to be free.

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