351 – December 17
“Few things are necessary to make the wise man happy while no amount of material wealth would satisfy a fool.”—Og Mandino
Ownership is a myth. As we travel through this brief life, we have temporary possession of some things, that’s all. In a larger sense, we have joint ownership of many things: The air we breathe, sunshine and moonglow, a meadowlark’s song, the laughter of children playing in a park. Since we leave everything behind when we die, what’s all the fuss about ownership?
What matters is usage and enjoyment. A Vincent Van Gogh painting was once auctioned for about ninety million dollars. I wonder how much time the person who owns it spends sitting in front of it and looking at it? I’ll bet it’s not that much. If a possession is just locked away and not looked at, admired, and enjoyed on a regular basis, ownership is just a number on a piece of paper. Some people have many numbers on many pieces of paper, but no enjoyment.
Years ago, I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. It was fabulous. It is so clear, when you stand in front of one of these masterpieces, why it’s a masterpiece. Energy and power radiate from the brushstrokes and the colors shock you with emotion. I enjoyed that experience immensely, and I carry the memory of it with me. I own the experience. That’s as much ownership of a Van Gogh painting that I need.
We can make ourselves unnecessarily unhappy because we lack ownership of things we desire. We can lust after the new dress in the store window and cry and moan that we “can’t afford” to buy it. Or we can treat shopping like a sightseeing trip where we can see, admire and enjoy the beauty of wonderful creations, without having to take them home and put them out of sight in our closets. The enjoyment of an experience is a pleasure we can treasure.
Erik Dreyer-Goldman, a computer whiz in Los Angeles, devised a creative solution to the ownership dilemma. He was driving along the Pacific Coast Highway one day with his wife, when she said, “I’d like you to buy me a Porsche convertible to drive along the beach.” He had already looked into the expenses involved in Porsche ownership, and they totaled a larger percentage of his budget than he wanted to commit to an automobile. So he said, “Why don’t we just rent a Porsche whenever you want to go driving on the beach? Then we are paying for what we want when we want it, and not paying for it when it’s just sitting in the garage.” She laughingly agreed that was a good plan. So you might see them breezing down the road, laughing and enjoying the sun in their favorite automobile in a very cost-effective outing!
What do you use and enjoy that you don’t have to own?
“I appreciate and enjoy all the beautiful treasures of my abundant life!”
I’m delighted to be writing this blog and having more room to write than the 520 words I was limited to when I was writing the book!
It’s fun to reminisce about my visit to Amsterdam and seeing the Van Gogh paintings. The picture books don’t do them justice. The energy of the brush strokes through the thick paint leaps out at you, and you know you’re in the presence of genius. The Vermeers and the Rembrants at the Riks Museum had the same effect on me. I wept at the Anne Frank House where we could actually go into the small back room where Anne and her family hid from the Nazis for two years. Did you know that Shelley Winters, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress playing Mrs. Van Daan, sent her Oscar to the museum where it is still displayed?
This was on my first trip to Europe in 1987. I had been wanting to travel more and when my Norwegian friend, Ranja, told me she was going home for a visit, I said, “I’m coming with you!”
We planned a 3-week trip starting with a visit to London, and then to Oslo. I left her with her family and went on a 3-day tour of fairy-tale castles in Denmark which was heavenly. Then she met me in Copenhagen where we rented a car and drove down the autobahn through Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and into Paris.
This was back-in-the-day before the Euro, so in each new country, we had to change the money. When we had lunch in Amsterdam and the check came, I looked at the bill and couldn’t remember the name of the money where we were. So I said, “Okay you owe me four…um… things.” She laughed at me, but she knew what I meant.
I am really, really, glad I spent the money on that fabulous trip and have a mind full of memories instead of a closet full of stuff.