Sunday, July 6, 2008

we're all renters here

when i had that realization, it was very liberating.

it came about when a friend who had bought a fixer-upper with the help of her family said about her neighbors, 'oh, they're only renters!' i didn't take umbrage with her, but i felt it. after all, i've been a renter my whole life.

then came the epiphany: we don't really own anything. everything is contingent. we don't own our children. they leave. we don't own our parents. they die. we don't own our houses: my sister's house burned down and the vast family history my mother had gathered ashes. recently, a friend had most of her house flattened by a tree falling in a storm. an acquaintance lost his house to one of our wildland fires a couple weeks ago.

even our bodies we don't possess, not in the way we'd like to believe. two days ago i visited my friend ed in the hospital. an avid bike leader in the community, six months ago he hit a stanchion and tumbled, injuring his spine. he looked very tired, paralyzed from the neck down. he's feisty and hopefully will recover the use of his limbs. however, for the moment, it's been taken away.

most of our suffering comes from a sense of loss. perhaps it helps to think that loss is the name of the game. at the moment california burning up. according to botany, it's supposed to burn. the oils build up in the brush. a fire releases a lot of seed, puts healthy ash in the soil. of course, people build in the woods. it's merely a matter of time, especially since global warming is charging the atmosphere with higher energy that must find an outlet.

if we are only renters, we might consider stressing less about buying a home, a new car, and so on and on. they say, 'you only get to keep what you give away.' it's not a bad philosophy to live by, despite our need for the illusion of owning.

here are some pics from the lookout in the smoke: