THE ONLY THINGS WE TAKE
Someone close to me recently lost a very dear family member. They asked me to handle the task of dissolving this person’s assets and addressing those tricky unanticipated end-of-life protocols. And so couple days later I got the keys and found myself standing in their home. Alone. It was a different kind of alone time. One I haven’t experienced before. A lot was going thru my head as I was making my way thru it but two main topics surfaced.
The first one hit me the moment I was all done.
It took me about 8 hours. Based on the instructions I organized, separated and labeled things as keep, trash and donate piles. The “keep” pile ended up being the smallest one. Only 5 small document boxes. And I know once the family goes thru that, it will end up being maybe one, if that. The junk removal company came and took the piles labeled ‘trash’, the donation center picked up all the furniture and I loaded up the 5 boxes into my car. Leaving the place completely empty.
That’s when I realized that in just 8 hours one person’s entire existence basically disappeared. All that he collected, worked for, saved for, bought, fought for, maybe lost sleep over and even some health….gone. It’s like he never existed. It felt really strange and very sad, but in a weird way made me feel content and happy about the choices I made for myself and how I wanna live my life. Here’s why…
I have never been the one to care for things. Things never interested me, I have no attachment to them. Give me good food with good company and an adventure, that’s a different story. I have never dreamt of having a big mansion and fifteen cars, a boat or a private plane. I believe we need so little to be happy. A bed, a shower, a kiss, a touch, some delicious chocolate croissants… you get the picture. Yet I look around and I see how greed has taken over the World.
We are killing ourselves working insane hours, stressing, losing sleep because we want to buy more things. Or we are developing anxiety and depression, and destroying our relationships because we don’t have the things. We want bigger houses, faster cars and fancier clothes, because we are told everywhere we turn by media and advertising (but also by comparison) that we don’t have enough. And we listen to them, instead of finding some solitude and listening to what we really want and need. And in this constant race and chase we can be so nasty to one another over things. Just watching some of those Black Friday videos from any supermarket literally makes me cry. I will never understand how one human being can treat another in such violent way over a TV.
We spend so much of our life acquiring wealth and things that we completely lose sight of life itself. Getting all this stuff just to impress people who don’t really give a damn. Forgetting that people who really matter, who love us and care about us only want us to be happy. They don’t care whether we live in a shoe box or a palace. And we are most definitely forgetting one simple but definite truth… that Nutella is the best thing ever. But also, that we are all gonna die. Nobody can escape that. No money, wealth or power are gonna help anyone with that. We are all gonna end up one small box tucked in the corner of a closet or a storage space somewhere.
The second thought surfaced and brought a big smile to my face as I was going thru this man’s stuff.
I learned so much about him. He was a simple man. Just like me, he didn’t have a lot of things. But when I opened one of his closets, I found boxes of pictures, marked up maps, brochures and guides from all the places he traveled to and visited. He was an adventurer. And I smiled cuz it was obvious the Universe was giving me a little nudge. And if that wasn’t enough, as I am sorting thru the travel materials, I see that he happened to be in all the places I have recently visited. Just like me, he spend all the extra money he had on adventures, creating memories with people he loved, having great meals and sharing unforgettable moments of joy with new and old friends. Because that’s what people will remember. The feeling they had while spending time with you. He chose that over paying a huge mortgage and paying off credit card debt.
We spoke just days before his passing, and when we got on the topic, he told me he lived a good and a full happy life. I got little excited, as I usually do about topics that are close to my heart. I told him that I truly believe that experiences and memories I create with people I love are the only things no one can ever take away from me. And they are the only things I take with me when it’s my time to go. Not the cars, the houses, the fancy clothes… I have witnessed first hand that while those things might fill one’s life on the outside, more often than not it still feels very empty on the inside. And an empty life is life not lived.
He just smiled… and now I know why.