Saturday I drove to Tampa to spend time with a friend at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. I was looking for a distraction from the terrible vision of death I’d had the day before and I certainly found what I was looking for on the casino floor. But I want to share with you something that happened on my drive to Tampa that I found much more enlightening.
I was driving my Miata with the top down, celebrating the summer sun even as thunderstorms threatened the horizon with flashes of lightning and gray sheets of thick rain. I felt free from work, free from responsibility, and very much alive. As my radio was blasting over the wind in the open cabin I was dancing in my seat, entertaining a school bus full of children in front of me who were pantomiming gestures through the rear windows. As I repeated their gestures I could see them laughing hysterically at the crazy guy in the little car behind them. I was in a fine mood and loving life. Within minutes traffic separated us and I waved goodbye with a smile so big it felt foreign and unfamiliar.
Moments later I adjusted myself in my seat and turned my body just a bit to get more comfortable…and my favorite hat, a Florida Gators ball cap I’ve had for years, caught the rushing wind and blew off my head into traffic behind me. Maybe if I’d pulled over immediately I could’ve rescued my hat, a bit worse for wear but nonetheless returned to my rightful possession. But as the distance grew between my moving car and my now certainly-mangled hat, it struck me how oddly I was behaving!
Here I am pursuing spiritual depth and enlightenment, having had a vision of death just the day before, and I am suddenly mourning the loss of a piece of headwear! I thought to myself, “If I struggle with losing a hat, it’s no wonder the idea of death terrifies me!”
Jesus words returned to me, “Do not store up treasures where moths and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal.”
You might rightly consider me silly for being so attached to a hat, but as I continued along my way I spent a good ten minutes thinking about it, about my hesitation to pull over and retrieve it, about how I was clearly so attached to such a mundane object. The Buddha said that suffering comes from “clinging of mind”, and boy was my mind clinging to that hat!
I learned a valuable lesson that I’d like to pass along to you: We can become attached to our possessions quite easily, and often we are blind to the “little things” we cling to because we are so busy congratulating ourselves for not clinging to the “big things”!
I want you to think of a favorite little thing of yours. Maybe it’s a hat, a purse, or a pair of shoes. Maybe it’s a small painting or framed picture. Whatever it is, I’m sure by now your subconscious mind has provided you with an object. When you’re done reading this, I challenge you to seek out that object and place it promptly in the trunk of your car, whereupon you will deliver it to a thrift store or a homeless person as quickly as possible. If it’s not worth giving away, throw it away.
Lose your favorite hat. It’ll do you good!