I always say I don’t care about worldly goods. When I say it, I also really mean it. People are much more important than any kind of possessions can ever be.
Why is it then that I feel so strongly about each and every possession I owe? It’s not like I value them more than I do people, but once something is mine, it’s mine.
Let me explain…
Nurture and nature
For as long as I can remember, I have always looked after my stuff, whether clothes, books, gadgets, or anything else in my room – when I lived with my parents – or in my house, once I had my own. No matter how little I had, or whether items were costly or not, I was protective of it.
I think the basis of this lies in my upbringing. My parents were far from rich. In fact, all through my childhood they had to turn over every cent twice before they spent it. We always had enough food, and clothes to wear – some made by my mom – but on birthdays we only got one small gift, and for Christmas one bigger, and one small one. It was always something we really wanted, like the one year I was gifted my much-loved tape recorder.
I never broke my toys; never folded ears in books, or bent them backwards. I always cared well for my belongings, and barely ever allowed others to touch it.
Where I think much of how I am with my belongings comes from nurture, some of it is definitely nature…
Nine months old
This is a story my mom loved to tell.
When my mom was pregnant with me, my father saw another woman. A marital crisis followed, and they did what they would do many times more after that to save their marriage: they moved. In this case, they moved from Vanderbijlpark to Uïs, Namibia. Yep, not next-door at all.
They became friends with the neighbors, who had a daughter three months older than I was. One night they were visiting us – I was nine months old – and the two of us were playing. As happens with children, we were interested in each other’s toys. I was more than happy to share, until she wanted to play with my favorite toy. I grabbed it from her, and in turn she grabbed it from me, stood up and walked away.
I couldn’t walk yet, but my mom told me I started crawling after her, and when I wasn’t fast enough, I stood up, and walked! I got my toy back from her, and from then on, I could walk. You can call this jealousy, but knowing how I am with my belongings, it seems there’s a theme here.
Teenagers, especially teenage girls, tend to share their clothes. This one borrows a shirt from that one, or the other lends you a dress for a night out.
I never did that.
I never borrowed anything from anyone, and not a hair on my head would think about lending my clothes to any of my friends, no matter how close they were to me. No one thought this to be strange; they just accepted this as part of me.
When my oldest became a teenager, she would sometimes borrow my clothes, mostly tops. She never asked, just took it from my closet, and I would find it in the laundry, or miss it from my closet when I wanted to wear it.
Always, when she did that, I gave her the item of clothing. Obviously after lecturing her about never taking clothes from my closet ever again.
Sharing clothes is just not something I do, or can do. I am very careful with my clothes, and some items of my clothing have been in my closet for many, many years, and still look like they had been bought last week. Once someone else wear my clothes – yes, even my own child – it’s like a ‘chain’ is broken, and it doesn’t feel like mine anymore.
I know… weird.
I really don’t know where this part of my character comes from.
Another example… two weeks ago, I went cycling with my daughter, and when I wanted to get up again – we had already cycled about 18km – I made a misstep and fell. I bruised my knee badly, but what I really hated most was damaging my pants, a pair I was then wearing only for the third time! It took me days to get over it.
A Cup-A-Soup mug
Years ago, a colleague was introduced to the anger I feel when my things are touched without permission.
At work we provided the employees with instant soup. As head of administration and in charge of purchasing, I received an email from Cup-A-Soup to purchase mugs for all colleagues at a reduced price. The nice thing about this was that each mug would have an employee’s name printed on it. Everyone loved the gesture.
Then one day I took my cup from the cupboard in the kitchen, and in a thick black marker someone had written my nickname above my name. I was furious, and even more so when I couldn’t wash off the writing.
Hours later a colleague asked me if I liked that he had written my nickname on the cup. Poor guy, he had to endure my tirade of how one should never damage someone else’s stuff.
I apologized the next day, understanding that I totally overreacted. Still, this was very much in character for me, protecting what I see as my possession.
And still I say I don’t care about worldly goods…
We are in the privileged position that we can buy something when we want it.
For me, it hasn’t always been like this. Up to when I moved in with Master T – I was 37 – I was more or less in the same position my parents always were. I had to turn over every cent, and there was little room for luxuries. I had two children to feed and dress and put through school.
Landing a very good job, a couple of months before I moved in with Master T, had been a turning point for me. Eighteen years on, and I am still in the same job, and Master T has a good one too. We are not rich, not by far. But, we are both very sensible with money – Master T is brilliant with managing and saving money – which allows us to buy what we want and need.
This doesn’t mean we buy everything our eyes see. No, any purchases above 100 euros, no matter what kind of item it is, we discuss at length to make sure that we don’t spend money unnecessarily. And whatever new possession I acquire, I treat with the same care I have always done from childhood.
I don’t care about any worldly possessions
I still say I don’t care about worldly possessions, even though I look after whatever I own, as well as I do. You can argue that it’s easy for me to say this, since we are okay, moneywise, but I also said this when I had to turn over every cent before spending it.
If you give me the option to lose a possession to losing a person from my life, I will gladly destroy the possession myself.
I think I feel as strongly about my worldly possessions because my parents taught me this from a very young age. You can call it nurture or nature… bottom line: its part of who I am, and something I have accepted many years ago.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay