Living In A Material World

This morning, I rolled over and looked at my iPhone to check my email. Bleary-eyed, I found the tiny type too much to handle so early, so I quickly abandoned my iPhone in favor of my iPad, which was lying in bed with me.After finding nothing of much interest, I crawled out of bed and set my Keurig for a nice cup of coffee to start my day.

After my gears were lubricated with caffeine, I set out to hit the gym before work. I grabbed the new purse I had ordered online a few days ago, enjoying that fresh leather new purse smell as I looked around for my keys. I then climbed into my little Juke and drove off.

Arriving at the gym, I pulled out my mp3 player and grimaced, deciding that an iPod was long overdue. My mp3 player is the saddest piece of electronic equipment you are ever apt to see, and I haven't changed my musical selection since 2005. Downloading music is still a mystery to me, so I work out to a bizarre combination of Air Supply, Poison, Dido, and the Fugees. It's uninspiring, to say the least.

As I pondered fitting a trip to the Apple store into my packed schedule this week, I glanced up at the TV and saw the utter devastation wrought by the Oklahoma tornadoes. Immediately, I realized what an entitled, self-centered, spoiled brat I had been since the moment I woke up. Okay, perhaps I'm being a bit too hard on myself; in this day and age everyone is up to their eyeballs in things we can live without, and I do work hard to purchase what I have. But, still. Seeing everyone standing around with the contents of their entire lives smashed to pieces, I couldn't help feeling guilty about my focus on the material world.

The destruction of homes, of buildings, of all those things that the victims held sacred was bad enough, but you know what? I'm sure that those parents waiting to hear about whether their children survived the tornado would have given up their homes, their valuables, anything...just to hear the sound of their childrens' voices again. I'm sure that all of those people who have seen their dreams crumble before their eyes would gladly take that if it meant that they were going to be reunited with their lost loved ones.

We collect all kinds of things, large and small: houses, jewelry, businesses-and we consider this to be the process of "building a life." These material things give us a sense of place in the world. They give us a sense of who we are. And we spend countless hours adding to the pile of things that we own, because the more that we have, the more entrenched within this world we seem to be. Material items seem to be the tethers that root us to the earth, and without possessions we are seen as aimless drifters, wanderers without ties or a solid foundation for a "real" life.

Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy like what is happening in Oklahoma to grant a new perspective. The bonds of family and friends, health, safety...hell, even the love for a pet...these are all priceless and cannot be measured against the value of earthly possessions. As I watched TV this morning, I found myself realizing how little all of my possessions matter in the overall scheme of things...and how sad it is that it often takes a devastating tragedy to help us to remember this.