There are many things I am letting go of this year. Most of them are residuals from years of them being kept unchecked. They are subscriptions, things (bottles of ink, fountain pens, bags, etcetera), and unfortunately a relationship as well. Most of these are actually financial and psychological burdens I am grateful to be letting go of.
The Dysfunction of Endless Wanting of Things
A disclaimer: Although I am bothered by my dysfunction, at least I am aware of it. So many others share my symptoms yet are unconscious of their thoughts and actions.
I am not someone who is attached to material things, for I seldom feel hurt from their loss, or even if I were, it disappears quickly. I’m also not envious of others’ possession and would happily decline anyone inviting me to buy this and that great thing they have. Thanks to my closest friends, I’m continuously learning to disassociate who I am from what I have.
My particular dysfunction, which I know is shared by many, is my incessant want. I do not give in to these desires easily, however, I’m bothered that I find myself wanting things incessantly. This is me being conscious of my dysfunction.
Just so that we are clear, wanting in and by itself is not a bad thing. However, a wanting that is unchecked is the dysfunction I’m pointing towards. It’s like an addiction. It’s when I feel that itch that “I have to have something,” and usually not out of necessity but out of desire. It is quite common nowadays to see people who cannot control themselves from adding to the already many things they own which they will not be able to use within their lifetime—they call it “retail therapy” and online shopping makes it much easier. If this is the norm which surrounds us, then it is much more difficult for people to see that wanting and acquiring is an addiction of the mind. Have you also felt that uneasiness, that “need” to buy something? Other people even borrow money or go into debt to acquire something they desire.
In the bigger picture, this same wanting and the endless acquisition for more is sadly the reason why there isn’t enough to go for everyone—many of those who have enough want more and are therefore, consciously or unconsciously, take from the share of others. More than that, we are taking too much from the earth, we are ruining the world we live in.
This endless desire is because of the belief that fulfillment will happen some time in the near or far future when we have acquired what we want or when something happens according to how we want it to. Yet everytime we get to that point where we thought we would be happy and at peace, time and again we will long for something new, for something more.
Another aspect is our attachment to things is as a part of our identity. In my case, it began when I grew sick and lost my job, my ability to walk, who I thought I was—my identity. And acquiring things and identifying myself with the things I owned became my bandaid, my new identity.
However, we cannot find peace and joy when we look for it outside of ourselves. For everything in this world is volatile, temporary, not in our control. Nothing outside of ourselves will fulfill our limitless desire.
How to be cured of the dysfunction?
The only way out of it is to awaken. In Christianity it’s called “salvation,” in other religions, “enlightenment”, “end of suffering”, “liberation”.
I cannot write about awakening because I haven’t experienced it, perhaps I’ve glimpsed it briefly. I’ve also read words that tried to explain it. However, words are inadequate, for even reading the Bible or any holy text doesn’t give us salvation. Words can only point to it.
I’m only at the tip of the iceberg. Becoming conscious of my dysfunction is the first step.