Ownership is a Delusion

Many, many years ago, when I was an adolescent, my father gave me the ring he received when he completed the 8th grade. He went no further; economics on a family level made going to work what he needed to do.

I cherished the ring as I cherished very few things. Some years later, trying to recover from a disastrous academic failure in my first two years of college, I joined the army on a two year tour.

I was sent to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to work as an attendant on the psychiatric ward of the Army Hospital. I took the late night shift, which gave me my day time hours off, to wander, and to go to the beach.

Sorting out what kind of a “me” I was going to be, and whether or not I had much control over that process was a major mental preoccupation. The army was in charge of me and given the situation that I found myself in, that seemed to be fine, and certainly better than I had been doing at that job.

It didn’t occur to me that wearing my ring into the ocean didn’t make sense. Not until I returned to the beach did I notice it was gone. In its place was a self-inflicted wound so deep that it forced me into a brief despair.

That early encounter with loss was so specific and so particular that it triggered a profound reconstruction of what I thought I believed about a whole lot of things. The first idea to crumble was the idea of ownership.

Here is the puzzle I was trying to solve. If something is mine, if I own it, then how can it be gone before I decide to get rid of it? If I can lose it, or it can be taken from me in any way, than what is the difference between owning and renting or borrowing?

Paying for it is meaningless. I pay for my food and we all know what happens to that. I pay for a ticket to a movie, or boat trip, and yes, the experience goes into my memory bank, but to say I own that memory makes no sense. Do I own my memory cells? Do I own my body fed by the food I cook, and the food of experience? If I own a house, do I own it after I die?

Day dawns and night yawns. I live in both, but I own neither, nor do I own the map of that day nor the map of my nighttime dreams.
Ownership is an illusion. That’s what I came to understand. And out of that understanding emerged a desire, and a need to write.

About Stanley S. Smith

Psychodramatist,teacher, trainer, and life coach specializing in situational change. My professional biography is available at psychodramacertification.org
This entry was posted in Autobiography, growth and development, Ideas and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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