I watched Blackfish the other night – the documentary about SeaWorld’s orcas in captivity.
The movie has been recommended to me for a while, but honestly, I’ve been putting it off because I knew my heart would crumple, my anger would flare, and a great feeling of helplessness would follow. But I watched it anyway, tears flowing, heart breaking, mind open – I watched.
And I wondered, how can I begin to make a change? Burning down the building isn’t worth the jail-time, and it wouldn’t touch the root of the issue anyway.
As I sat mesmerized, my already wide distaste for zoos & aquariums deepened, but another realization surfaced during the 80 minutes I spent in disbelief and dismay.
What is our obsession with owning everything? What is our fascination with manipulating the natural world for our own entertainment?
This compulsion to grasp and grab and hold tight to things – living or inanimate – has thrown us so far off the rhythm of what matters in this life that many don’t recognize themselves.
Now, I own things – probably too many if we’re being honest – and these possessions make me comfortable. They also add layers to my identity. But do they really?
Owning is an illusion that can be taken dismantled at any moment. This concept of possession only supports the idea that we have control over the minutiae of our lives. It’s a fallacy.
You know the saying, take care, the things you own wind up owning you?
We can become so burdened by material possessions that we forget we are wild, free, and creative creatures.
Our freedom crumbles under the very things that are supposed to give us joy.
I’ve always loved the idea of fewer better things, and I’m constantly purging my possessions, questioning the merit of what I surround myself with. I believe people are looking to live more, to mainline experiences and remove the bloat from their lives – the tiny house revolution is an example of that.
I know this is a long bridge – Blackfish to material bloat – but emphasizing the importance of being mindful about what we seek in our lives is my way of imparting change, however tiny the ripple may be. Bringing attention to the root of the issue is just as valuable (maybe more so) as dismantling the issue itself – which in SeaWorld’s case I cannot do.
Chew on this for a moment. What would you be left with if your iPhone, your wardrobe, the 25 trinkets on the second shelf of the library, your books, your things were suddenly stripped from you?
Would you stand solid in your identity?
Would you know who you are?
Would you still be joyful?
Or would your construct of self collapse?
Would you feel lost?
We are not here to OWN.
We are here to BE, to experience, to love and be loved.
What if you stopped looking at your life under the lens of stuff I own, and began to thank each item for dancing with you for however many moments you have together?
What if you removed the pronoun my from your mind?
I’m not saying having things that comfort us or make life easier are wrong or bad.
I don’t believe being accompanied by possessions is the problem – being defined by them is.
If you can walk through your life knowing that things are lovely, but they are not owned – if you can dance with them instead, then you will pull freedom into the core of your life.
If you can have such a sense of who you are that you could be stripped of everything and still walk through the world knowing your unique imprint, you’ll put the wilderness back in your heart.
Life is not about color palates, cars, or shoes, and it’s certainly not about capturing the freedom of other wild things for entertainment.
Life is about how we be, with or without the decoration.
When you drop that barrier between you and the stuff you think you own, your wild will emerge, your intuition will fire, and you will know a peace, trust and power that cannot be owned, it can only be experienced.
Joyful founder of Miniskirt Ninja and The JoyBomb Collective™, Ashley Welton, who hails from Hawaii, supports successful entrepreneurs in living their message through and through and coming alive in every direction. She lives an enthusiasm-laced lifestyle and dedicates much of her time to surfing, traveling, exploring, and making life and business more delicious. For more stories about doing life and business on your terms, and a VIP invite to The JoyBomb Collective™, sign up here. She also shares photographic evidence on Instagram @miniskirtninja.