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What is the Measure of a Man?

May 10, 2017

Ever look in your neighbor's garage?
Is it a single, double, or three-car garage?
How many cars are in the garage?

 

Odds are, there are no cars in your neighbor's garage.
Or your own for that matter.

 

Because, as George Carlin said, "All I need is a place for my stuff." And we Americans have a lot of stuff. We generally have so much stuff, we need to store it in the cellar, the attic, the spare bedroom and the garage!

We are addicted to "stuff."

 

Remember the old saying "He who dies with the most toys, wins." Too many people are playing that game.

 

How about playing another game---See who can give away the most. Well, maybe not "the most." The point is---Instead of accumulating stuff, give it away.

 

Give it away to friends, to charities, to business colleagues. Even strangers if they need it.

 

Warning: It's tough to play this game. Giving away stuff is hard. It's hard because the stuff you keep is more than a pile of trinkets, toys, books, and so on. They are memories; they are emotions. They speak to you and implore you "keep me!"

 

And so, as Chuck Palahniuk said in "Fight Club"---the things you own end up owning you.

They clutter your house and your mind, and they weigh you down when you try to move or move on. They are chains.

 

Throwing off chains is difficult. Think Ebeneezer Scrooge tough! The first time I wanted to give away books, I couldn't do it. Some of those books really meant something to me. That book reminds when I... that book taught me to.....I want to re-read that book!

Oh, how those books begged me to keep them.

 

Eventually, I managed to give some books away. The next time was easier. Then I set a new goal--- to clear a bookcase so I could donate the bookcase and clear a corner of a room. Once I did that, I did it again and again.

 

As I got rid of more books and other objects, setting new goals became easier. The new goals were more important to me than the memories. This new game became fun.

People who visit my house love how "open" it is. Sure, I still own stuff, but I feel the stuff doesn't own me.

 

And having given away enough stuff, for now, I looked for new challenges. And so I started giving away my time and expertise. I began volunteering.

And a funny thing has happened. The more time and expertise I give away, the richer I feel. It feels good. (Note: I don't overdo it.)

 

I still see the occasional bumper-sticker about "dying with the most toys"' but I think I found a better bumper-sticker:

"The measure in your life will be in not what you accumulate, but in what you give away."
(Quote attributed to Wayne Dyer)

 

 

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Ed Lawrence                       

ed-lawrence@getstart-ed.com

Natick, MA                          

508.404.8630​

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