I watch a new baby reaching for things in the airport and I know that he has started his journey, the journey of loosing himself. He does not know that what he possesses (the innocence and detachment of pure being-ness), is something that he will spend the rest of his life trying to get back. He takes it for granted in this arcade of distraction that we call life. His eyes follow the glittering colors and the migration of people down the corridors. The peacefulness of his being is becoming lost to the development of his mind.
I can possess nothing. I can only enjoy these borrowed things. My borrowed paint set, my borrowed bed sheets, my borrowed house, my borrowed land, my borrowed clothes, my borrowed body, my borrowed beliefs and my borrowed minutes. It is exposing to accept that one day you will be stripped of anything you did not come into this life with. It is a scary enough notion to cause emperors to bury themselves in darkened tombs littered with their riches. But it is also freeing. There is an inherent sense of nudity in the knowledge; a sense of exposure to the world which makes you feel like you have nothing whatsoever to lose. It is liberating (if you let it be) to know that all you create is not really yours. When you die, it will all pass on to the next person who wants to borrow it. In essence, all things that we think we own, are borrowed from the future. And if we know that we are borrowing all things that we come into contact with, we save ourselves the pain of attaching to them as part of ourselves. We save ourselves the pain of taking our creations personally. And in the absence of that identification, we allow them to fly. When we offer them that much space, they can stretch their wings and morph into their own creations; creations far more brilliant than the vision that we could ever hold for them.
When I contemplate the borrowed nature of my very life, I am left only with one question… What do I want to borrow? There is no wrong answer to this question. The only mistake we make is not asking ourselves this question in the first place. We borrow a great many things that do not bring us joy. And instead of throwing them away, we haul them on our backs year upon year, waiting for someone else to pass them on to. It is a tragic kind of poetry the way we make ourselves suffer. And an even greater tragedy that we believe this suffering makes us good.
Watching the people stand in line at the help center in the Atlanta airport, I am reminded again that people who are full of fear can never move beyond the known. They can never take the risk of throwing away the familiar weight of the belongings, which no longer serve them. And the heaviest of all belongings, are their beliefs. They bend and break under the heaviness of them. But to them, it is not an option to let go of their belongings. “Do not leave your luggage unattended, please be sure to keep your belongings near you at all times” is the announcement that comes across the airport PA system. It is ironic. The kind of irony that is as bitter as it is sweet.