I have been making some significant shifts in my life.
This is not huge news for those who know me: I’ve never been one to shy away from change (as long as I’m the one creating it). These recent shifts have been more than just changes to my material world; they’ve also been a challenge to my identity.
As one who strives to live by Buddhist principles and the Four Noble Truths, I understand that life is suffering and suffering is caused by craving (gimme stuff! more stuff!) and aversion (I hate pain, make it go away!). We want things, relationships, and status—thinking that when we acquire them that we’ll be happy, but this only leads to more craving, and then to aversion when things don’t go our way.
We wrap up our identity in these things.
And, while I know that identity is not fixed, that nothing is permanent, and nothing lasts forever, I can still get caught up in the thinking that equates my stuff with who I am.
So, I’ve made the decision to sell my beloved Vespa (and my Smart car, but more about that, later).
Many hours of thought and consideration went into this decision. If you have never ridden a Vespa or a motorcycle, you might not think this is a big deal, but it is.
The Vespa, like so many things, stands as a symbol. She stands as a symbol of freedom, accomplishment (hey, I have a motorcycle license!), and a symbol of my all-around badassery. And I feel all those symbolic things when I ride the Vespa. In fact, some of my best memories are of long rides through the country or that epic trip I took with friends into Mexico.
But, like all things, there comes a time to say good-bye.
My primary motivation for this letting go is my health. With nerve pain issues, I must preserve my wrists, hands, and arms for my livelihood—writing. And, living in Portland is not like living (and riding) in San Diego. I’d be delusional to think that I’d ride more than a few months out of the year. I guess I’m not tough enough to brave the rain and cold. Plus, I’m not getting any younger. My body aches after riding, and I require a fair amount of recovery time.
I also realized that I was clinging to the Vespa because a part of my identity was wrapped up in being a rider, in being a part of a small group of cool folks who do something risky for fun. It was time to get honest and admit that this layer of identity no longer serves me.
So my inner adult stepped up and made the tough decision to sell. And I’m elated. It’s that feeling of weight lifted—I know that feeling signals that I am making the right choice for me right now. Yes, there’s some sadness, (and no, this doesn’t mean I’ll never ride again) but mostly, by letting go of the Vespa, I make room for new adventures.
As I meditate on the constant flux that is my life, I become less caught up in the trap of thinking that my material possessions define who I am. I’m so much more than that. And you, too, are so much more than your stuff. What thing, relationship, symbol is it time that you let go?
(image via Death to Stock under CC license)