We’ve all got that one friend or self-help book that preaches detachment from material goods, sputtering that less is more and how it doesn’t do us well to get caught up in a world of possessions and belongings.
Bull. Materialism is detachment. Attachment is detachment, and leads to a weaker relationship with the things that we do own and desire.
We are increasingly unconcerned with the permanence of things- outfits get phased out then given away, phones get upgraded and sent away for scrap, and ridiculous hulking televisions get replaced with slightly larger ridiculous hulking televisions with more sockets in the rear.
The more stuff we have, and the more possessions that pass through our homes and our fingers, the less we find ourselves caring about them or forming strong attachments to them. As we gain more stuff we stop worrying so much about the stuff we already have. One Ming vase receives our absolute care and protection, but if we had a thousand more then that one would suddenly become just another spare.
The constantly returning ideal of purifying ourselves by stripping back the necessaries and the junk we don’t need is a tautological joke as it forces us to place values on our possessions, and select and grade that which is apparently important and can not be lived without.
I have a marble jar that used to belong to my grandmother. It is the only thing of hers I have to remember her by, so naturally it sits wrapped in bubble wrap, and packed away in a strongbox at the bottom of a cupboard where I can’t see it. Conversely, all the tatty second hand books I bought cheap to read once and review, and all the plates and knives and forks that are meaningless without the food that sits on them… those stare at me on a daily basis, reminding me just how little I care for them.
If we were to truly wanted to free ourselves from attachment to possessions, we’d figure out which of our possessions mattered to us the most, and get rid of those, leaving us free to stop worrying about all the shit we’d still own, because that would be the shit that we already didn’t really care about.