Nothing belongs to me.
I once stood on the edge of the Badlands naked, a thousand miles from home, in the early Sun of a South Dakota morning. A great friend stood next to me, naked, and we feasted on the lunar landscape before us, as the mosquitoes feasted on our banquet of flesh.
In four thousand miles of that adventure, I took not a single picture. My great friend is no longer such a friend, him being lost to me down a different path. Such is the way of many friendships. It is a hard lesson learned.
That great traveling West was my first in that direction, and the vastness of this country was staggering. In the years that have followed, I have fearlessly traveled hundreds of thousands of miles in the width and breadth of this country, always with hope.
Each time I have set out on the road, I have purged my belongings of excess. In the beginning, it was for the practical considerations of limitations in volume, mass, and money. But alas, form follows function. The lack of possessions soon became spiritually unbinding.
The less I had to manage, the more peace I found. Anything that was not adaptable to multiple uses was left, pawned, or passed on. As I let go of objects, I gained space. As I let go of people, I gained freedom. As I let go of control, I saw open spaces instead of fences.
To a fault, I have at times sacrificed conventional comforts for the sake of mobility and independence. I have relied on reciprocal generosity from time to time for room and board. More often than not, I have paid my way by working hard for my living. The world owes me nothing.
I live within a culture that encourages identity based on possessions and ownership, things that can be stolen, lost, or broken. I live in a culture of excess. I am as much a consumer as the next person and far from being carbon neutral, but I do not collect, and I do not covet.
I am flawed, certainly, but I can stand before the World, naked and unflinching, with the knowledge that all that I can lay honest claim to exists in the nothingness of my mind. What my two hands are able to create out of that nothingness amazes me still and their feats of Creation are a blessing.
That I know nothing of envy or jealousy is a direct result of proactively denying possession, of things, ideas, or love. I believe in stewardship, not ownership, and I do my best as a caretaker. That I have broken things that were in my care is also true, and in those failures I have learned to hold things more lightly.
Do not be fooled by these scars and calloused hands: I am rough only because the World has required it.
I hold this feather gently for you.
Last edited by Charlie; 02-12-2011 at 07:29 AM.