Inspiration, not possession
Today I awoke before the sun. In silence, I waited for the birds to alert me to its rising. Soon the darkness was overtaken by a morsel of light. Like the time lapse of a camera, dawn had sprung and the birds welcomed its ascent, as did I.
In the quiet of my normally full and loud house, I enjoyed the peace of sleeping children… and a snoring husband.
Given that we cannot at this time go to church, I watched the livestream of a Mass, presided over by a priest, whom I had known for more than 15 years. He has been a cherished presence, an advisor, an advocate, an inspiration, an educator, a dear, beloved friend to my family and me. He married my husband and me. He baptized each of our girls. His homilies always awaken my heart and my soul. They give me thought for the week and often for a lifetime.
This morning he told a story about a mother taking her son to college. She was distraught, saddened with having to say goodbye to her son. After some time had passed, she realized that she wasn’t losing him, but that she had discovered to love him in a different, fuller way—she learned to love him for the adult that he became. Then Father quoted, what I later found to be a quote from Frank Sinatra. “If you possess something, but you can’t give it away, then you don’t possess it… it possesses you.”
I’ve been thinking about that story and that quote for hours. It applies in so many aspects of our lives. In fact, its lessons are never ending. From banal things like the latest phones, electronics, finest of homes, best of reputations, exterior representation of perfection, to the grander everlasting love of our children... There are so many THINGS in this world we wish to possess, to hold onto dearly—some close to our hearts, others close to our self-defined and self-imposed image, yet others, close to our pocketbooks and future. It is here where we fail, in one way or another.
What do we truly possess? Life is transitory, fleeting. This is simply the story of life. Beautiful events come and go. People walk into our lives and one day leave. Life begets life, yet it begets death as well.
The only possession we have is our actions. They can lay the foundation of what possession we leave behind for others: Just as that mother’s love transformed to a different kind of love—a more complete, whole and wholehearted love. My hope is that I possess nothing I cannot release, but that I leave behind a great deal of metaphorical possessions that last well beyond my physical self. A quote attributed to an anonymous source says, “Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it is inspiring.” Focus on the inspiration, not the possession.
Our actions can leave permanent memories for others to cherish or abhor. They can dramatically impact and change lives with the least of dramatic actions. After all, a grand oak tree begins as a tiny acorn that survived the grasp of a squirrel.
The only possession we can give freely is ourselves—our hearts. During this pandemic, when so much loneliness and depression, illness and death is scarring our country and our lives, if we can give, even a little of ourselves, help and inspire others, we are giving the greatest possession of all, and, we are left not being possessed by anything.
April 15, 2020