Some years ago, I bought out my lease and moved with little time to spare. I sold what I could. I piled everything into a small room in a new house. There was no room to walk. It was night and the floor was a dark ocean. I laid on my bare mattress, floating.
The line between spiritual and material keeps blurring.
I go through bouts of hubris where I think I can live by dew and poetry alone. This has been happening less often as the years go on.
Apparently, material possessions are real (real enough) metaphors and symbols that show the world who we are.
The guy with the nice German car bought it for status. And that status is real (real enough). And without it his tribe would leave him out in the cold.
And I know what you’re thinking (if you’re me). Guys who care too much about what they look like on the outside are jerks. It’s shallow. And not true happiness.
Well, you’re not wrong. But that isn’t it.
A nice car is nice. Higher status symbols are, in fact, higher than the lower ones. Gaining or losing status symbols and material possessions has social, emotional, and spiritual consequence.
The truth is, it is dangerous to be low status. There are fewer opportunities. There are more risks. There are more and higher costs. There are more diseases. The lower your station, the greater chance you will be exploited with impunity. So, we fight for status like we fight for our lives. Rightly so.
Money, material goods, property, clothes, cars, jewelry or the lack thereof—these things are the foundation of status.
Blessed are the
for they shall be
Again, if you’re me, you’re thinking, my bank account does not determine my worth as a human being. And you’re not wrong. However, your bank account is as an immutable rule, tied to your social status.
Art is the other way to gain status. (And spirituality is yet another, lesser way. But that is a conversation for another time.)
Do not get me wrong. Status is expressed through many sophisticated games. A prince in one neighborhood is a rat in another. But apparently there are things that flirt with universality.
—wealth, connection and fame, influence, power, beauty, achievement.
No matter how many times I try to shake off the world of matter and money, I can’t do it. It is too real and too central to my human experience.
I daily covet luxury goods and German cars I don’t want to ever own.
Here, this is one of my haunting questions: How did they get up there? Where is the way? Who would show me the way up? Is the air thinner up there; could I even live up there if I made it?
So, now I’m in my childhood room, sitting on my bed on top of clothes I slept on top of last night, listening to the swamp cooler run too loudly because refrigerated air is too expensive. And my things are in boxes all across my room, but there’s room to walk.
Life is okay but I’m tired of this liminal bullshit.
So, I’m just going to bide my time with tepid insomnia while I forget to count all of the things I take for granted.