I changed jobs this month. Letting go of my former job was summed up when I turned back to look at my desk on the last day I worked there, last Saturday.
Over the five and a half years that I had worked at that office and in that cubicle, I had accumulated a comfortable pouffe for visitors, a footstool under the table, sundry tabletop decorations and stationary, a photo frame showing myself and my kids, a big pile of books, various inspirational quotes on the notice board, a large painting made by my daughter on the wall behind me, besides a little cabinet full of past magazines and beauty products. It was a homey space, precisely constructed that way since I spent a major chunk of my life there.
The day I left, it was bare of all personal touches. Just a table with a computer, a phone, chair, and an empty notice board. As I turned one last time to say goodbye to my space, I was stunned at how different it looked. “I can’t believe I accumulated so much stuff in all this time,” I wondered aloud. “This is how it was originally?” It looked so barren I couldn’t fathom how I could have ever called it ‘mine’.
That one look back was an epiphany of sorts for me. It suddenly symbolised how we are born, and how we leave the earth. We come with nothing, we go with nothing. In the middle comes the story of our lives, a theatrical act, a dance, a work of art, that we fill up with ‘stuff’ — relationships, things, belongings, jobs, cars, clothes, mutual funds, mindless pursuits, addictions, Facebook, politics, films. And then, when it’s over, everything disappears again, and we are back to bare.
We come with nothing, we go with nothing. All that remains is the space inside our heads — our memories, thoughts, intentions. Everything else is irrelevant, eventually. That one look at a bare cubicle awakened me to the fact that we own nothing.
Material belongings are immaterial. Change is inevitable. Why do we hold on?