I have always interpreted the concept of non-attachment to also relate to material things. You know – the image of the Buddhist monk wandering around with just one wooden bowl.
Taking a peek at my closet might give you the misguided impression I am not doing all that well with non-attachment but you would be somewhat mistaken. I don’t place a particular value on things: if something breaks, or is misplaced, I don’t get upset. I don’t do impulse buy. I don’t shop as therapy. I don’t miss things. I have a maniacal tendency to throw out stuff.
Where material non-attachment fails me is in a few objects I use on a daily basis that give me more pleasure than it might seem possible.
Let’s take this mauve cup, from which I drink green tea every single day: the delicate china is smooth against my lips; the handle reminds me of Alice in Wonderland; the color is playful. I love drinking from it – in fact, so much more pleasurable than if I used a random mug.
When I come down in the morning, the sky steel grey and the coyotes still prowling, I turn the lights on ever so barely, with a dimmer. I walk by a Venetian glass water bottle and six tumblers that immediately bright up the worst winter day. Every time I look at them, I am guaranteed the corners of my lips will lift. I think of the day, in Murano, when I decided to splurge and of the moment when the box arrived, and, hesitantly, I checked nothing was broken.
And then there are the $6.00 Fabriano A4 lined exercise books I use for note taking. The covers are thick and pulpy, the logo discreet and modern and, on the pages inside, the pencil doesn’t just write: it glides. The paper is so smooth, I find myself stroking it absent-mindedly.
What these objects share is the experience of texture and color. It sounds silly, as I write about them, to derive so much pleasure from inanimate things but I consider it one of the pleasures of being born in the human species. Taking full advantage of all my senses.
Do you have any special objects in your life?