Non-attachment. The word came to my consciousness sometime on New Years Day. It came unbidden. It just arose.
It might have had something to do with the need to offload some of my extraneous possessions, to simplify my life and my home, and to do without objects or things that have been part of my life for several years. Never mind the genesis; the concept is what is important.
To be able to let go of possessions, personal ties, and other longstanding associations is difficult unless you understand that what is being let go is not important. The fact of letting go is what counts. Non-attachment is an important teaching of Zen Buddhism. His Holiness The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying:
“Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.”
Someone took a lawn ornament from our yard between Christmas and New Years Eve. The ornament, a small wooden Santa that my now-deceased uncle made, was a sentimental piece that made its way to our front yard every year and signaled the beginning of “Christmas decoration season.” The wooden stake had been replaced twice because of rot; but my husband always fixed it so that it could be placed in the ground each year.
But this year it was stolen.
I had a brief pang of loss, regret, anger. But then I thought: “It is what it is. I guess we weren’t meant to have that possession any more.” Does relating this story undermine somewhat my non-attachment to the Santa? When will I stop looking at nearby curbsides while driving to perhaps spy the errant Santa? Have I truly achieved non-attachment.
Do even my final words here defy non-attachment?
I wonder if the “new owners” will get as much enjoyment from this simple wooden ornament as my family did.