In which we attach meaning

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When you look at it this way, it’s easy to say that power is all in our head. After all, it is in our head that we give someone or something the power to mean everything.

Say for example, you find yourself walking home under unlit streetlights at an unholy hour. Your knuckles are turning white and your legs, jelly, and the only thing you feel is keeping you safe is holding your breath until you reach the gray gate you can hide behind. Of course, once someone jumps out to drag you and stuff you inside a rice sack, you’d have no choice. But in desperation, you cling onto beliefs, actions – that gush of air you aren’t willing to release – that you think would illogically save your life.

On a lighter note this time. Say, you were a baby and say, you were sad. There’s that one thing, be it a pillow, a blanket or a stuffed toy, that smelled like Mom, and it fought the monsters away. It made you braver, stronger and at one point of your life, it was impossible to let go. Until it’s gone, because, older now, it didn’t matter to you anymore.

There’s that piece of candy you’ve hidden away in one of your wallets and an old coin in one of your socks. Stuck between your favorite book is an old convenience store receipt and under your bed is a Grade 4 art project. At the bottom of your inbox is a message with a smiley at the end dated five years ago. You have a slightly worn-out shoe losing its pair and a woolly red shirt you aren’t ever going to throw. Unable to keep what they represent, you hold on to the physical; it’s all you are capable of.

In truth, we just want to get pieces of what we cannot have – our life, a smile, a moment and the beyond.

So comes the attachment. Other than naming, this is another that denotes value and finality. It means to distinguish that something ordinary is special without any special reason. Just because you said so. Doing so, also gives a false sense of permanence that the value stays and it does, as long as you’d like it to linger.

In the middle of the night, you look for a star and even if facts say it is different, you insist on the sameness and ask it to grant you a wish. We see what we see. And we love who we love.

Right now, I have a rosary bracelet around my left arm. It’s loose, barely breathing and I could almost hear it warn me to brace myself. Something is coming, I don’t know what, but the thought of my shield wearing down scares me. (I am excited to discover where finding a new one would lead me though).

The things that have power over us, those that mean the most, are valuable the way we are because we say so. To be attached is a choice and so is to escalate meaning.

It makes the world more complex in a way other than just a dumpsite of possessions. It explains why people are greedy and stubborn and materialistic. It keeps superstitions alive. It facilitates the transfer of emotions and the rest of the intangible. And, interestingly, it can even give value to what we can achieve as ourselves with a simple change in mindset.

(It’s a lovely thing, these brains of ours).

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