Favorite Fragile Possessions

March 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Musings 220 views

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The only thing worse than accidentally breaking one of your favorite fragile possessions is when someone else accidentally breaks one of your favorite fragile possessions. They didn’t mean to do it, but it happened anyway and it’s their fault. But holding a grudge or getting angry doesn’t improve the situation at all, nor is it appropriate to throw them for a guilt trip, so you’re just left to silently mourn your loss.

I’m sure I’ve accidentally broken someone else’s prized possession before, but I can’t remember doing so. I can’t even remember the clichéd “ball into lamp” event taking place in my childhood. But I can certainly remember some of my lost or damaged possessions, though, so I have to conclude that, no matter how much initial guilt is felt, in the long term at least, it’s easier being the breaker than the breakee. Perhaps this is also because the breaker, for reasons mentioned above, often doesn’t know just how important the broken object was to the other person.

It sure is amazing how attached we can get to silly little objects, even the cheap and easily replaceable ones. The use of the word “love” really doesn’t seem that hyperbolic when you see people lose or be reunited with favorite possessions.

Because you’ll ask… I swept up a few thousand pieces of my Crookes Radiometer this weekend. That’s what got me thinking about this.

  • vaya!

  • 🙁

  • My godfather sent me this link:

    Advice from a zen koan. If you own a teacup that is very precious to you, you have two choices: you can be obsessively careful with it, and live in fear that you’ll drop it, or someone will chip it, or an earthquake will come and it will fall out of the cabinet. This object, intended to bring you pleasure, can become a burden.

    Or, you can imagine that it is already broken — because in an important sense, it is. It’s sure to break someday, just as you’re sure to die and the universe is sure to come to an end. Then, every time you drink from the cup will be a pleasure, a gift from the gods, a special reunion between you and something you had lost. You will be sure to appreciate every chance you have to use it, but having already said goodbye you will not need to use it with fear.

    Indeed, such a fragile object had shattering in its future from the beginning. At least I enjoyed it during its stay with us.

  • aquariumdrinker

    I do exactly this with people I care about — imagine them dead. I don’t talk about it much because I think the normal human thing to do is to try hard not to contemplate the mortality of loved ones, and I don’t want people thinking I’m creepy. To put it another way, I’m worried that AT would take it the wrong way if I were to say “I’ve imagined your death a thousand times”.

    The next time I feel the urge to discuss it, I’ll be thankful to be familiar with this koan.