I’m not quite sure why we put so much energy into material things. Regrettably, I think I have been trained to believe that I need to be living to a certain standard–that perhaps this standard will not only help me find worth in myself, but that others will find worth in me, as well.
When I was in Japan, my friend and I stayed with a kind man named Seiichi. He lived in the heart of Tokyo, extremely close to their transportation center, an ideal location for a working man. Seiichi was in his mid-40s, single, childless, and he seemed to be very content. We only stayed with him for one night, but this is what I remember upon arriving at his apartment the first time.
We approached his building. Marble adorned the walls, and glass doors greeted us at the opening. The place was extremely secure, especially for a country with such a low crime rate. We boarded the elevator and began to travel upstairs. When we reached his floor, it was rather dismal–the walls floors, and ceiling composed of dark greys–cement, if I remember correctly. We walked to his door where he let us in.
He waved his hands fiercely as I began to walk in. Ignorantly, I forgot to remove my shoes. As soon as I did, his face lightened, and he motioned us inward. I was extremely taken aback at the size of his apartment: No bedroom, just one room, with a galley kitchen and a rather small bathroom. He later went on to tell us just how expensive it was to live in his location, and he seemed rather proud of how much room he could afford. It seemed that Seiichi was living a rather privileged lifestyle.
My new place is small–very small, almost dungeon-like. It’s small to the point where I am a bit embarrassed at what my friends will think when they arrive on Monday to help me move in. But I can’t help but ask myself why I have put so much energy into the quality of my living arrangements, and why I have put so little emphasis on the quality of my character and what I have to offer in that regard.
The place is clean; it has heat and air conditioning, a nice stove and refrigerator, as well as a full bathroom and a walk-in closet. I am leading a privileged lifestyle. In fact, my lifestyle could be even more privileged than Seiichi’s, but what I have not seemed to develop is his innate appreciation for it.
Instead of looking at my new place as a dungeon, I’m going to try and look at it as a cocoon. It will not be something that is going to confine me, but rather hold me tight and help me develop. It is giving me my independence, it is going to foster my sense of self, and it will give me some much needed time to be with myself, hear myself think, confront days of loneliness, and welcome days of joy. It will hopefully help me see that I need not others to validate me, but only my evaluation of myself to make me content.