Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Three Tangibles That Make Up My World

And why only two of them really matter.

In the world, you have people, places, and objects. Out of everything you can physically interact with, 99.99% of it can be lumped into these three categories. For a while now, I have been trying to pin down what it is that makes me like traveling so much. At this same time I have been trying to figure out why I am so intrigued by people, not just some people but all people. I have been trying to figure how I can be a people person but at the same time, have no problem up and leaving most of the ones that I care about and go away for a long time. I think I have finally come up with a solution for myself.

People and places are essentially the same things. One is a tad more mobile than the other but on a personal level both fulfill the same essential requirements. Why do you have one place that you go to over and over again? Why does one place feel like home while no other place in the world feels quite like it? How can some people eat lunch on the same park bench everyday for years on end and be totally happy?

How is it that two people regardless of age, sex, whatever, can make each other feel something so moving as to compel them to stay with each other for fifty years or more? Why is it when you are cuddling on the couch with someone you have only known for a few months or weeks, you feel like you are home?

I like to travel because I like exploring and seeing new things. I like the fact that some places can make me feel good, while others put me in a bad mood. I like the beautiful views that I get from some of the most random locales, city streets for example. I can jog to my favorite shrine in my town over and over again. I can do this because I always find new things there that I never noticed before. I like the solitude and intimacy that I feel there. Like when I am there, it’s just me in the world. The same holds true with people. My favorite people in life are the ones that I can hang out with for hours, days, months, name it, and still find things out about them that I never noticed or knew before. They can still surprise me.

Sometimes in life, you will go somewhere and you may only be there for a couple of seconds but for some reason, of all the places you have ever been in the world, that one will stay with you for the rest of your life. Maybe it was a smell, something you saw, something you thought, but for one reason or another, you will always remember that place and in a small way it has changed your life. Sometimes people come into your life from the most random of places and say or do the most random of things and as quick as they came into your life, they left it. But you will always remember that person. Maybe an old guy behind the counter at 7-11 said something while you were paying for gas and for some reason that utterance will never leave your being. There are some places you like right off the bat, the same holds true with people. Some people grow on you over time, the same holds true with places. The key to love for me isn't finding the most beautiful or richest person alive. I want to find the one that continually surprises me and keeps me on my toes. I want to wake up next to a person I have been with for forty years and notice something about her that I had never noticed up until that point. I want that person to be the place that I can go to when I need comfort or entertainment. I want a person I can always learn something new about, from minute observances to major discoveries. This is why I travel and this is why I am constantly excited to meet new people. Everyone and everywhere can hold a new surprise, good or bad. The way you know you are still alive is that you are still able to be surprised. The way you know you have learned from your life is evident in the way you handle those surprises. Life is also about flexibility, the more of it you have, the more you make out of life.

Objects are those things that harbor inflexibility. A place should not feel like home because that is where you stash your collection of shot glasses from around the world. A person should not feel compelled to stay in one place because his butterfly collection is there. Objects should not tie a person down but in many cases do. I will admit here and now, there are some objects that I can not live without. But the key is that those objects can travel with me wherever I go. Objects are okay when they do not inhibit personal freedom. The second you stay home because you need to watch the Golden Girls is the second you need to prioritize your life. The second that you stay in a place because the objects in it make you feel comfortable is the second you should contemplate how many of those objects you really need. Objects should not provide you with sustainable comfort, only people and places can give you the comfort that will truly further your life. Objects detract from it. As I type this, I am surrounded by stuff, most of which, I don't really need but I have because they provide me with a distraction from the fact that the comfort I receive from people is sorely lacking. The one truth however, is that I could leave 99% of it behind and never think twice. The absence of those objects will not detract from my happiness or world as a whole. I keep them around because I know that when I leave this place, most of them will stay here. Wherever I go, I can start new again. Objects do not tie me down. People and places should do that instead.

People and places build your bank of intangibles that make you happy. Memories, ideas, glimpses, all of these are cherished most when they come from people or places. Think about the intangibles that objects give you and weigh their importance in your life. Some people buy souvenirs when they go on trips; if the trip was that good or bad, do you really need a souvenir? The same applies with objects that remind people of other people. I am not saying objects are bad because some of them are quite nice, I am just saying one should weigh how objects factor into their life when compared to people and places. One should also not underestimate the power of memory when tempted to buy a trinket from a tourist trap. Some trinkets trigger memories but if you need an object to trigger a memory, was the place, person, or event really that important? If you buy an object, do so in remembrance of a significant event, not to remember an event.

No one is always going to stick to what I have just said, including me. But for me, at least by remembering this, maybe I will decrease clutter in my apartment while increasing memories of people and places. Every person decides for themselves what is important in their life, for me, I know the two things that are and the one thing for sure that isn't.

This has been my deep thought for the day.


Post a Comment

<< Home