3 min read
Mitchell D. Pousson II / March 22, 2021
I've always had an awkward relationship with owning nice things.
There's a lingering feeling of responsibility that's inherent with ownership and it doesn't release near the same level of oxytocin as the initial buy does.
When I was younger, my family would go out to eat once a week at the local Piccadilly—a family focused restaurant that offers a buffet of everything fried under the sun. At the end of our dining experience, the hostess would pump helium straight out of the tank into colorful balloons and hand them to my siblings and I on our way out. This was my favorite part of the weekly outing until one evening the balloon wiggled out of my grip and into the night sky before I could safely anchor it inside my family's minivan. The experience was traumatic and soul crushing to say the least. From then on, I refused to accept the free parting gift that I had come to love out of fear that it would once again evade me and float away.
Fast forward years later and not much has changed. Whenever I go to buy something or accept a gift, my brain juggles calculations trying to figure out if the risk outweighs the potential benefits.
"Does the value offered conquer the anxiety inherent with its ownership?"
The same goes for any type of creative endeavor: Will this song I'm composing ultimately let me down if it doesn't turn out the way I had hoped? Is this piece of writing simply a waste of time if people don't read it? Will this app we are building still be worth it if no one uses it?
All of these are questions focused around the outcome instead of the experience.
The outcome we desire is not guaranteed but the experience always is.
Since expectations only lead to disappointment, it's mostly correct to never have any.
The Buddhists detach themselves from situations in order to view them objectively. Instead of saying, "I have depression" they prefer "There is depression." Instead of saying, "I lost my balloon" they would say "A balloon was lost."
Much of the pain we experience in life stems from our egocentric default setting that's constantly placing us in the middle of everything.
"This is my app idea" instead of "here's an idea for an app."
"This is our product" instead of "here's a product we made for you."
If I could go back in time, I would grab a balloon or better yet—white-knuckle two, maybe even three balloons and let them all go. I would watch them ascend into the night sky over and over and over again.
And then I would be happy, because I no longer felt tethered to this aloft physical object that is not mine anymore and perhaps never was.
The fear of losing prevents us from winning and so in order to get what we want we first need to let go of what we have.
We must learn to take ourselves out of the work we do and begin to focus on the work itself as its own atomic composition.
Mankind is merely a vessel carrying the evolution of technology and art toward its own sense of autonomy.
We need not to fret when we lose things or things get broken. Nothing lasts forever and tying them to you and your sense of self is just baggage that holds us back from the change we seek to make.
Let the balloon go.