The little things that bring me joy and pleasure are exactly that, little. As a prologue I should say that I long ago lost interest in being pleasured by the big things. I discovered that, for example, when I parked my new car in the garage and I went on to something else that the car existed apart from me and was not really anything that was in any true sense of the word mine.  I merely bought it and would make payments on it. I certainly didn’t design it or build it, ergo it wasn’t really something I could really call mine. Maybe you look at stuff differently than I do but that’s how I came to look at all purchased possessions.

Created possessions are different, which I will explain in a minute, but those too ultimately end up bundled and set out next to the rubbish bin. I recognize that my view on possessions is hardly unique. And I further recognize that my renunciation of possessions had to have been at the very least subliminally inspired by greater and wiser men who walked before; much more spiritual men who tread this earth with much lighter foot prints than my own.

But it is as equally honest to say that I didn’t cast off my possessions to be like them or anyone else. I didn’t renounce possessions to become spiritual. If anything it was the other way around. Something deep inside of me had been pushing me down that road for a long time. Some men want the corner office. I found out some where along the way that I just wanted to be free.

Doing presentations and going to meetings became more and more what I did for a job; the engineering itself became only prep work. My job became more and more one of explaining technical things back to those that had authority over me and my output. Upper management came up with the deliverables and my value add was chasing down the details and then presenting back up the food chain the merits and demerits of a given solution. It became a very Dilbert existence; solutions unwound as they became more political and as such turned the rationality and elegance of engineering upside down.

I formally studied engineering and sought to become an engineer because I wanted to know how things worked and because I wanted to work in a capacity where I made things. I never wanted to manage people. I never wanted to participate in nor write performance reviews if for no other reason that I never wanted to liaise with those lying backstabbing useless assholes in HR. I just wanted to be one of those guys who solved the big technical problems and built the coolest stuff. But nothing was ever that simple; corporate culture left a political stink on everything.

God introduces himself in the book of Genesis as the creator of all things. I believe he does this for a couple of different reason but the take away for this discussion is that he seems to attach an inordinate amount of importance to the creative act. Therefore, for a man to create – something, anything – is to participate in the divine. God created man and purposely imbued him with divine attributes. And to exercise them, in this example, the creative act was therefore to aspire to participating in this life in a manner that the Grand Architect of All had intended.

I have a very devout humanist friend who looks at all of this is an entirely different way. He believes in Man while I believe in God. He scoffs, ‘If there is a god where is he? Why doesn’t he show himself?’ I don’t find the question to be particularly penetrating. He in turn finds my faith to be irrational. We both like classical music but for entirely different reasons. He grew up in Europe and classical music was part of his tradition. I like classical music because it is unobtrusive; it’s beautiful, it’s there in the room when you want it to be, or it’s not. Unlike popular music, classical music doesn’t have an agenda to push and it doesn’t tell you how to feel. Classical music just ‘is’ and it is what you want it to be and not the other way around.

Back to stuff – at the end of the day, everything whether created or purchased is just stuff. I have neither the philosophical engine nor the intent to parse out the value nuances between things like a Bach cantata and a BMW M6.

For myself over time, owning stuff just gradually began to become less and less satisfying and I started to become more interested in things that were more intangible.

I’ve often told my daughter that the only thing better than being happy was knowing that you were happy.

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