Gollums In Disguise: Our Obsession With Possessions

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Sitting at a wedding, waiting for my family to join me, with nothing better to do, I reached this weird philosophical place where things don’t necessarily make sense, ergo the momentary insanity (for which I apologize in advance). I just couldn’t stop thinking about our maid, whose house burned down in a fire recently. Their family is really poor, with barely enough to make ends meet. What meager possessions they had perished in the unforgiving inferno. This got me thinking… 

We live in a material world. We evaluate our successes and failures by what we do and don’t possess. We let our possessions define us. Everything, from our fancy cars to our high-tech phones, is a symbol of pride, a means of flaunting our superiority in front of those less fortunate (read ‘broke’). Everyone covets the finer things in life but when you really think this through, is this all what our life has been reduced to?

Intuitively, in this age of gadgets, my own life has been lost in pursuit of what I don’t possess. I would have wanted more in life, a meaning, a direction. (Un)knowingly, I will live and die for these perishable goods, these items that show promise of adding meaning to my life, yet the more I acquire, the emptier I feel. So are we making life simpler with the introduction of these ‘perceived’ necessities? Our never ending quest to be ahead of the rat race is getting us nowhere, forever running yet stuck in the same place.

If we look at our existence closely, we will notice that many of the evils surrounding us are because what we do or don’t have.

Greed: “I want more.”
Jealously: “I wish I had it instead of him; he doesn’t deserve it.”
Pride: “I possess something and he doesn’t.”

In this day and age of obsessiveness, I find it hard to see someone who has less than I have and be thankful. Five minutes, ten if I’m in a funk, and I’m back to my usual obsessive/possessive self. Why can’t we be patient? Why aren’t we thankful of what we already have? Our peers aren’t helping us by flaunting the latest fashions in lawn (a type of clothing in Pakistan), the life-altering mind-bending smart phones, making us feel left out and insecure. The couture culture and this so-called ‘brand awareness’ is ruining us, turning us into zombies lurking for flesh.

My friends may think I’m a miser if I don’t but new things frequently but it is actually liberating. I know what wanting something badly feels like as I recently went through this phase when I bought my first Android tablet. What I got wasn’t enough and I just wanted better; there was really no end to this greed. What I’m about to say next may sound as cliche as a Kenny G. solo blaring from the nearby speaker at a wedding, but isn’t this what we all know deep inside? Isn’t this something we are afraid to admit in public for fear of being shunned by this so-called ‘civilized’ society?

What we should really focus on is to get our priorities straight and set goals that don’t necessarily revolve around getting something material at the end; we need to be deeper than that (not shallow). Find joy in helping someone out without first thinking how it would benefit you. It’s time we stopped looking at the world from someone else’s eyes and started thinking, really thinking, on our own. This is what life really is all about. Stop worrying about what you may or may not have tomorrow and focus on things that you usually take for granted.

Quit the rat race; it’ll help you sleep at night.

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