Originally Posted in Our Community of Humanity at Inner Child Magazine
Attachment Disorders and What Do I Need?
Every month, pick up each thing in your house. Hold it. Feel it. Notice the texture, the color, the softness and ask yourself, "Does this bring me JOY?" This is an adapted exercise from Suze Orman, a well known financial advisor and TV personality. Paying attention to what we are attached to can be good for the wallet and for the heart.
In the process of moving last year, I thought a lot about stuff. What to move? What to take? Where to put it between here and there? Where there should be? What I can live without? What do I need to live? What is important?
The last year has been an interesting journey in the relationship to my stuff and attachment to physical location. My dad says, "never pack more than you can carry yourself for a mile."
June 2013 started with a flight from West Hartford, CT to Seattle, Washington. What did I need to take for a nine week bicycle journey across the country? What could I take on the plane? Fortunately, I took Southwest so I was allowed two free bags—two big duffel bags. My bicycle flew by itself on Bike Flights and was waiting when I arrived in Seattle.
Did I have too much stuff for a bicycle ride across the country? Yes. Did I have everything I needed? No. I found it impossible to plan for every need. I could have bicycled 3000 miles with only three cycling jerseys instead of four but I really could have used an extra pair of comfortable biking shorts. I could have used a soft pillow instead of a pillow case stuffed with clothes. Experience teaches us how to pack and what we really need to navigate life. Sometimes that experience comes in handy because we repeat a part of the journey or walk a similar path. Sometimes we just have the experience and can share it, so others on a similar journey can pack better. On what parts of your journey have you learned something worth sharing? How are you sharing your wisdom?
The most surprising thing I learned is that I can, if needed, run my life from my iPhone, including write blog posts, post pictures on LiveMapp and Pinterest, create Facebook and Google Plus posts, make LinkedIn business connections, do radio interviews about life on the road, have conversations with friends back home, email clients, catching up on world news, and do internet searches for information about the coming weather and places of interest along the way. I can do it all without a computer or any other electronic device. I just need my phone.
Everything I needed for camping at night could fit in one large duffel and everything I needed for daytime clothing and electronics could fit in another duffel. Of course, I counted on access to laundry a couple of times a week and a wall outlet for charging my phone every day. A bicycle trip is a study in what do you really need? What are the connection you really need in your life? What is important beyond the stuff? You learn a lot spending nine weeks on a bicycle with time to think, to plan, to challenge yourself to do something great, and most of all to breathe in all the joy of life. I had to make sure I had enough to keep warm and enough layers to take off to stay cool, rain gear, back up batteries—it is challenging to plan for all the different situations that arise in life.
A few months after bicycling from Seattle to Washington, DC and then returning home to West Hartford, CT, I decided to leave the East coast and I set out on another journey. Deciding what to put in my car for the drive out to my parent's place in Utah was challenging. The rest of my stuff would go into a POD—a big box. I didn't know how long it would wait for me to decide where I would land so I had to figure out what would I really need to live my life for the next few months.
And like much of life, at least my life, the time my stuff sat in the POD was much longer than I expected. I didn't predict my trajectory very well. I didn't have quite enough experience to know that I would spend five months at my parent's place in Utah with only what I drove across in my Honda Accord.
Were there things I wished I had put in the car for easy access? Yes. Did I do okay without buying much to replace stuff in the storage container? Yes. Did I look forward, once I decided, to holding, arranging and playing with my stuff in Spokane, Washington, where I am landed? Yes, hopefully for a long, long time. But I have learned what I really need and what I can do fine without. I understand my needs better. I have grown in my ability to navigate the journey.
The Root of Tantrums
"When we hear the other person's feelings and needs, we recognize our common humanity," says Marshall Rosenberg, developer of Non-Violent Communication. He goes on to say, "At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs."
What do you really need?
Originally Posted in Our Community of Humanity at Inner Child Magazine
Kind Possession Now
Possession! What do you possess? What are your prized possessions? What have you worked hard for or perhaps inherited?
There is a beautiful coffee table book entitled, Material World: A Global Family Portrait (1995) by Peter Menzel, Charles C. Mann, Paul Kennedy and a host of amazing photographers. It is a graphic and statistical snapshot of families worldwide. Families are photographed in front of their homes with all of their possessions outside—furniture, cars, pots and pans, yes, everything. In each photograph, they hold or stand surrounding their most prized possession. What that item is varies dramatically from one country to the next. Each family is a statistically average family for that country—an average number of children, average income, average size of home. It is a remarkable book about what we as part of this community of humanity possess and what we place value on.
Sometimes I look around my apartment and think about what my possessions would look like out in front of my home, what would be my most prized possession and what is irreplaceable for me. I have a photograph on my bulletin board of a scuba diving trip in Dahab, Egypt. I am smiling. My hair is slicked back and I am loaded up with scuba gear ready for my second dive of the day. I am surrounded by newly found friends. We don't know that it is just a few days before September 11, 2001 when I will be in Tel Aviv, Israel working. I have a memory and a photograph of a time in my life when I am vibrantly alive and fearless in my travels around the world. Life and love and vitality course through my veins—irreplaceable life.
Marshall Rosenberg, developer of the field of Non-Violent Communication said, "It's harder to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status, or resources." But is it simply the possession that makes the difference or rather is it our attitude and the way we possess power, status and resources? Is it really about the inequity when we compare ourselves with those around us?
Are our lives better if we are grateful for what we have?
Are our lives better if we are happy when those around us succeed in what they are trying to do or have?
Are out lives better if we help others gain what they need?
Marshall Rosenberg, who has participated in peace negations in the Middle East and at home in family conflicts said, "I would like to suggest that when our heads are filled with judgments and analyses that others are bad, greedy, irresponsible, lying, cheating, polluting the environment, valuing profit more than life, or behaving in other ways they shouldn't, very few of them will be interested in our needs. If we want to protect the environment, and we go to a corporate executive with the attitude, "You know, you are really a killer of the planet, you have no right to abuse the land in this way," we have severely impaired our chances of getting our needs met. It is a rare human being who can maintain focus on our needs when we are expressing them through images of their wrongness."
How are you trying to get your needs met? Does someone else have to lose for you to have what you need? Does someone else have to be wrong or bad for you to have what you want? The land, the money, the water, the safety, the love—we all have basic needs we are trying to meet. Is it only the love of a certain person that will suffice in meeting your need for love? What if your love is unrequited? Is it only a specific piece of land that will suffice in meeting your need for shelter? Who are you looking out for and who looks out for you?
If Not Now
The famous Jewish religious leader, Hillel, born over 2000 years ago in Babylon in 110 BCE said, "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" His words, "If Not Now?" have sparked a movement within the Jewish community which is looking at the means being applied to the peace process in Israel and Palestine. Jews are considering what is justified in the name of creating peace and safety. Is there a line that can't be crossed even if your own life, your family, your land and possessions are in jeopardy?
Whether we are seeking inner peace, peaceful families or peace between communities, there are certain attitudes and processes that don't move the peace process forward. The line between what we will do and won't do is different for each of us but I believe we each have a line over which we would not step to defend even our own lives. As part of a family, a community and a global village, it is worth it for each of us to look at and imagine where that line is for us. We can each ask ourselves, "What is worthwhile? What means everything to me? Do I want peace and love more than anything else?
Today I want to close with a quote attributed to Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
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