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Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons In Non-Attachment

Wikipedia states: Detachment, also expressed as non-attachment, is a state in which a person overcomes his or her attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective.

I've been thinking of non-attachment of late, especially given the "lesson" in it that my classmates and I experienced during the December holiday party at school. We enjoyed a version of an old fashioned "Yankee Swap" gift exchange. This is where all the wrapped presents are in the middle of the room and the participants are circled around them. The first person gets to pick a present. The variation occurred in that the present is NOT unwrapped until the very end. The second person can pick either from the middle or take the present that the first person took. If the first person's gift is taken by the second person, they get to pick another present from the middle, but cannot take back what the second person took from least not at that point. The third person can either pick from the middle, or choose a present that the other two are holding. If say, the third person wants one of the gifts that the other two are holding, the person whose gift is taken can then either pick from the pile, or take a gift from the person whose gift wasn't chosen by the third person. This leaves a potential window for someone to get back the present they originally wanted. And so on and so on... With 18 classmates, several mentors, and the two heads of the school, this could go on and on for quite awhile if any of them keep wanting to get back what they originally chose. It finally ends when ALL the folks are happy with what they DO have.

I know plenty of folks who HATE Yankee Swaps. They want only what they originally chose. Our instructors at school wanted us to see this form of gift exchange as a lesson in non-attachment. Just how much DO folks want to control their this case, what they take home as gifts. Now I'm not here to judge anyone in any way shape or form. After all, I have my own things/situations that I dislike, too. But Yankee Swaps aren't one of them. I just like having fun with them. Really. And quite honestly, I have to admit I don't really care what I go home with because even if it's not something I'm particularly interested in, I know I can re-gift it to someone who'll really like it.

As I was thinking about this I remembered a lesson in non-attachment that has recurred over and over in my life. It began as a teenager when I purchased a porcelain penguin that I really loved. I was collecting penguin paraphernalia at the time and I had saved for this really lovely penguin statue. I even had a glass dome on a wood base that "protected" it. The penguin stood on my bedroom dresser top. One day, as I opened a drawer of the dresser, the dome and penguin toppled off onto the floor, breaking into bits. At first I stood there dumbfounded. Then I sobbed. My Ma came into my room to see what was going on. I was inconsolable.

Over the years, I can't tell you how many things that were glass or breakable that I liked...or even loved...that have broken. For whatever reason, this lesson keeps coming up again and again in my life. I'm happy to say that the last few years have me not sobbing, but simply throwing up my hands in the air. If Chris is present, we even start laughing. It's become a joke not to let anything fragile touch my hands for too long. LOL!

Maybe the whole penguin episode and beyond has made me not get upset by Yankee Swaps. I don't know for sure, but it seems a good bet. That said, I don't do anywhere near as well with non-attachment of people I love. There are friends I have lost years ago that I still mourn to this day.

Now as for places...I'm pretty good at detaching from them. After all, Chris and I are gypsies and quite nomadic by nature, so it would be fruitless to get toooo attached to a place.

What's your thoughts on non-attachment? Please share your experiences. Thank you.


  1. Is that why you turned to fiber instead of stained glass for your second medium? Lol - just kidding as I know very well it was due to EZ.

    I'm having great fun detaching myself from material things. I have even more stuff in my car thanthe last time you saw it of things I'm trying to find new homes for. I can now tell you exactly the happy memory it held for me as I pass it on to it's next owner. I don't know if I'll become minimalist but I do think I would like it. Not sure I would ever like the other version of a Yankee swap - but I might be able to try the version you mentioned. I remember the last one I did I opened a box of lucky charms and oh how devasted I was when someone took them. So silly but I was useful and I wanted them for my husband. I don't want presents just time with those I love. Thanks for listening.

  2. The reason I veered away from making stained glass, dear Ladee Sunshine, was because I realized that cut glass cuts skin. Seriously, it took me to actually have this happen to realize it is so! LOL!

    I, too, treasure times with those I love. I treasure times spent with YOU!

    Thank you for commenting, my friend.