Emotional Objectivity

March 31, 2001

I think our lives are made up of two things, objects that we collect and the emotions that we associate with those objects. Our society today focuses all of its attention on objects. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us having objects is good. Having the "right" object will make us perfect. This pursuit of objects is the foundation of our consumerism religion. We are constantly in the pursuit of the right object so that we can be perfect for having it. Of course, we take everyone else's word for what the "right" object is right now.

We have grown up believing that the real world consists of objects. Clothes, cars, stereos, televisions, computers, cell phones, houses, and so on. All these objects and more are used to define the measure of a man or woman. If you have a palatial house filled with expensive objects you are envied. You are a success. If you live out of a shopping cart on the street you are ignored and pitied, you are a failure. And yet when you start to look at the lives of those who have it seems they aren't always happy. And when you look at those who haven't, often times they are extremely happy and content. Obviously there is more going on here than meets the physical eye.

The other piece to this equation is emotion. Our society has made expressing emotion out to be a sign of weakness. It is something that is derided and scorned. We ruthlessly stamp out emotion in our young boys so they'll grow up to be strong men. And then we wonder why a teenage male takes a gun to school and kills. We revere star athletes for their physical abilities while turning a blind eye to often drug addicted, petty criminal lives. Being a physical superstar isn't enough without emotional depth.

When you were a child and hand made a birthday card for your mother she was overjoyed. The card was sloppily done and hard to read but the love and joy associated with it made it appear golden to your mother. She saved that card in her drawer for years. She takes it out and relives the rush of love and happiness she felt when you first presented it to her. She no longer has the object that was given as the "real" gift. Can you name the presents you got for your 5th birthday? Can you remember the first big birthday party you had growing up? I can vividly remember the skating party I had in the 4th grade where my whole class came. But I couldn't tell you a single gift I got that year. The emotional gift I got was far more meaningful and important than the physical ones.

For some time now I have been focusing on my emotional growth. My lifestyle was not geared towards objects, nor did it support collecting new objects. I know that I have reached a new stage in this emotional growth as my lifestyle has changed to allow me the option of collecting new objects. Before when I had no choice but to resist temptation it was easy to stay focused on the emotional content of my life. Now that I can act on temptation I have to struggle against falling under the spell of objects for objects sake

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.