Anything that is given can be at once taken away. We have to learn never to expect anything, and when it comes it’s no more than a gift on loan.-John McGahern
Many people argue that we have to have high expectations of life, that we ought to expect the best and only the best for ourselves, and then the best will manifest itself in our lives and we’ll be happy and fulfilled. To a certain extent, I believe they’re right, for the energy that we put out tends to come back to us. If we put out positive, expectant energy, then good things are bound to come our way.
I really like the things I have–this computer, the bed I sleep in, the clothes I wear, the books I read. But I always try to keep in mind that these are just things that I happen to possess right now, and if they’re gone tomorrow for some reason, I’ll still be okay. How many people have lost all their possessions in a fire or storm, but still turned out okay? The things that we possess can be very important to us, but we shouldn’t consider them to be too important. As Maude says in the film Harold and Maude, her possessions are “incidental, not integral.”
When we become preoccupied with possessing things, we lose a lot of our focus on developing ourselves. We don’t think as much about what we need spiritually or emotionally; instead, we focus on the next purchase. We often depend upon the things we own to provide us with our sense of self-worth, which is always a recipe for disaster.
Everything’s on loan, for one day we shall die, and we will take nothing with us but the lessons that we’ve learned while we’ve been here. Hopefully, those lessons won’t be about how to attain financial or material wealth, but about how to love and give and live life fully. Hopefully, we won’t have learned to hoard money, but to share it. Hopefully, we won’t have learned to focus on material possessions, but to focus on those things that are not material at all, like love and compassion and giving and hope.
Questions to consider:
What do you expect from other people? Are those expectations realistic?
What material or financial expectations do you have? Do these expectations add value to your life?
Why do we tend to focus so much on our own expectations of how things should be?
For further thought:
It is the preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents people from living freely and nobly.-Bertrand Russell