Her name is Thi, pronounced tee. She is Vietnamese and Buddhist and her name means poem. It is a name that fits her well. Thi was the first person to teach me something about Buddhism, how Buddha believed that much of human suffering was and is rooted in our relationship with things. Things we have come to believe we should have, lamenting those things we don’t have, clinging to the things we do have, as if, and I imagine this was Buddha’s point, our very identities and worth were based on the presence or absence of these things in our lives. a

Thi was and is a truly beautiful and extraordinary person with remarkable depth of spirit and thought. Like anyone you genuinely like in life, when you are with them, talking with them, the joy of the moment is because of the person you are sharing time with, not because of what they are wearing or how much their watch or clothing cost. Right there is a reminder that real happiness in life doesn’t have a damned thing to do with things. For the life of me I can’t remember being in a conversation with someone and thinking, I’m having a wonderful time because, thank God, they’re wearing a Rolex and not a Timex!

Many who read this were, like me, raised in a culture that socializes (brainwashes) us into believing the acquisition of things is, whether we recognize this pattern or not, the driving force of our lives. And when I say things, I’m not just talking about material things like cars, fancy technology and such. I’m also talking about things like job titles, positions in society, of monetary wealth, of fame, of having the prettiest or handsomest mate and so forth. The word having being the dangerous word there, you don’t have anyone. No one is or ought to be a possession.

Life is a great teacher. I think the best teacher of all. There are times the lessons are not particularly pleasant, but they can become so if you have grown comfortable in your own skin and know that no challenge in life takes you away from you. If you stay in the warm light of that awareness, you are better able to digest the lesson, even if it doesn’t always taste good – at least not at first. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out happiness is not found in things, in our possession of things. Sometimes life offers us the chance to learn this, or, better put, discover this.

A case in point. I have recently gone back on disability and, save for a speaking engagement or two coming up, things are walnut tight on the economic front, and so I am streamlining things on the economic front. I was using a smart phone with all the bells and whistles. Realizing I could cut the cost of the phone in half by going back to a regular ol’ cell phone, I proceeded to do exactly that. And oh my, the upset I felt at having to put away the smart phone. You’d have thought I was having a limb removed, for Godsakes.

And then I thought of Thi, and Buddhism, and I realized I was in one of those moments that Buddha warned us about. Suddenly an experience that was giving me pain shifted and began giving me joy. The kind of exhilarating joy that one feels when they discover something wonderful in life.

Something for you to think about. I live in rural area. There are hills and streams and lakes and fields and farms all around me. There are birds and deer and rabbits and there is a big sky here. I don’t know where you live but the point I am about to make here still applies. How often have you been going to an appointment, the store, to see a friend, and on your way there you are so fixed on where you are going and what it is you want that you never notice the world you are traveling through?

It’s not all about things. Don’t miss your life. Stay open to it. Love it. Breathe it in. It is yours, and it’s wonder doesn’t have a damned thing to do with things.

When I am watching the beauty of a sunset, or watching birds on the feeder, a huge smile on my face at their antics, the last thing I am thinking about is what I am wearing or what I own or don’t own, I am too busy living. And isn’t that what it’s all about in the first place, living?

2 thoughts on “Thi

  1. I have a great book you should read if you are into the beauty of things and takeing pleasure from what you possess without being attached to those things. read Dr. Wayne W. Dyer book on Change your thoughts Change your Life. Living the wisdom of the TAO. If you go to Amazon you can look inside the book and read some of it. Check it out.

  2. Too many people in the world today measure life in material ways. From Madonna’s “Material Girl” to parents who both work to provide and give more, the sacrifices are felt in the spirits and homes of those children, many of whom have come of age and don’t realize you truly “can’t buy me love”. Thank you Peter, for sharing your spirit, and reminding us of one of the most important lessons in life.


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