The value of personal belongings

I used to tell to friends that I am not attached to my house, that I can move in another house, in another country, in a heartbeat, so to speak. My home is the people that I love. This is why I did not understand my own grandmother who has been living alone for 16 years, refusing to move out of the house she had built and to move in with her son.

I used to say that I don’t need a big place where to live. A two rooms apartment is perfect, as long as we don’t have to get married with the bank and we can travel around the world. Our family has been gradually growing out of our two rooms apartment, which is very conveniently located downtown. Hence, we started looking for a four rooms flat, slightly farther away. After seeing the first one, I felt claustrophobic at the thought of spending, say, the next ten years in it. “Why not looking for a house?”, we concluded.

We had to extend the search even farther from downtown, since we resent the idea of being too involved with the bank. Now that we embarked on the mission to move house, the excitement of living into a house spices up the dull days of the Autumn. I imagine us playing with the baby in a big living room with fireplace, and my ego is tingling. What? Me, infatuated about living in a house?

When friends were enthralled about their newly acquired houses, I could not share their excitement. I would think, “Anyway we die one day. What will happen then? Will death give us the permission to take anything with us? Will we be able to negotiate at least for the favourite book or dress?” Now, with each visit of a potential new home, I look around to see any neighbours. Maybe we’ll befriend and I’ll live the life of a perfect housewife, sharing recipes with the other mothers in the neighbourhood.

I return to our cosy apartment and I sigh. I will miss this place, where we lived beautiful moments, like the day when we returned with our baby from the hospital. I will miss the enlivened view from the window, which is like a postcard view over the city, at any time of the day and night, all year around. This view has kept me company each night, many times at night, when I have woken up to feed our baby. In this small home, my ego loses ground.

I am reminded that the joy of the soul makes a small home feel huge. At the same time, the reality of moving house reminds me that life is a constant change till we die. The change of home environment is a time of joy. It is a time to open the new chapter in the family life. But most importantly, I think I understand better my grandmother. When living most of your life in only one house, the walls and floors still keep alive the past and the people who used to walk on those floors. At 83 years old, she still hopes that we will move in with her.

I also agree with what Sakyong Mipham writes in his book, “Turning the mind into an ally“: “Understanding the meaning of impermanence makes us less desperate people. It gives us dignity…We see that happiness comes from cultivating the virtues that lead to enlightenment. Ultimately, it comes from wisdom, from understanding the unchanging truth of change.”

As for the inability of sharing the excitement of friends, I pray to God to help me not to be judgemental. A little bit of comfort makes life easier. 🙂