When I was in my late twenties I was very poor. Everyone I hung out with was too. It was just the way life was, I thought.
One day I started doing odd jobs for an older man, Mike. Mike was a rough character. He was a self-made man. Mike was also the first financially independent man I ever really got to know. During the time I was doing odd jobs we would talk about all kinds of philosophy.
I wouldn’t say Mike and I were ever friends in a traditional sense. But our time together had aspects of a mentor-mentee dialogue. The thing I liked most about him was that he thought about things differently than me … and that made me think about things differently too. Things that make you think are good.
One of the eye-opening (to the twenty-something me) conversations that we had involved what people love.
Mike: What do you think people love?
Me: Well, my boss loves his car.
Mike: He’s an idiot!
Mike: What else do your co-workers love?
Me: Well another one loves his house.
Mike: He’s an idiot!
Me: Another one just got an engagement ring she loves.
Mike: Another idiot!
It went like this for awhile. Me naming something, then Mike disparaging the owner. Finally I asked Mike if he loved anything.
He pointed his finger square in my chest and looked me right in the eye and said “Never love anything that can’t love you back”. Suddenly I knew exactly what he meant. His words sunk deep in my heart. Mike is long gone now, and I am approaching the age that he was when we had our talks. But to this day, rumbling somewhere deep in my subconscious, whenever I see someone happily showing off an item they love (Rolex, house, car, etc.) I can hear Mike’s low growl of “Idiot!”.
Love your kids, your spouse, yourself, your friends, and your pets. Those are things worth sacrificing for and worrying about. They make life worth living.
But other things are just hunks of metal, piles of wood and drywall, pieces of paper or other types of junk. Buy them, sell them, enjoy them, repair them, and replace them. But whatever you do, don’t love them. Because they don’t even care an iota for you.
The Independent Penguin knows what to love. Do you?