Balloons in a Clear Sky

The things we touch have no permanence. My master would say: there is nothing we can hold on to in this world. Only by letting go can we truly possess what is real. ~ Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Possession:~ the state of having, owning or controlling something

When we possess a thing, we  have control over that thing. So, if I need to relinquish control a little in order to release my creativity, is giving up my worldly possessions the next stage on my creative trip?

Now, I’m not talking about adopting the life of an ascetic, here, I mean I’ve still got to hold down a job, pay the mortgage and so on. I do don’t I? Well, it appears that there are a growing number of people in the world who would disagree. They’re giving up jobs, property and other unnecessary possessions and living a frugal, simple life. Bored with trying to fill an endless void with possessions, they are stripping their lives right back, working in reverse to get to the blank canvas on which to paint a new life, in fewer colours.

So I thought about this. It seemed something that I could at least try in a small way. I hate clutter and have quite a minimalist home so I thought that stripping it back even more would be a doddle. I began to consider my possessions. What could I do without?  As I thought about it the truth slowly unfolded. There was very little I truly owned to begin with! My home belongs to the bank, my car belongs to the finance company, even certain hours of the day do not  belong to me; the 9 to 5 belongs to my employer, the evening to household chores, family and TV sets. I sometimes think that I don’t truly possess my own thoughts; the constant chatter of my internal dialogue is a boring and banal distraction preventing me from tuning in to reality. Can I realistically give up that which I do not possess in the first place? And if I did, what would it achieve?

 ‘Only by letting go can we possess what is truly real.’ That ‘letting go’ is what is sought through the practice of meditation. My personal practice begins by attempting to silence the internal chatter. I like to visualise my thoughts as balloons.  I place each distracting thought into a balloon and then release it, watch it float into the vast blue sky, as I do this the next thought has already come along and off it goes, and so on and so forth. There are times when I spend the whole meditation releasing balloons and not much else but I guess that’s ok, it’s a start.  I try and let go of these worldly possessions – my thoughts – in this way, releasing into a clear sky that which I must not hold on to ; anxieties about the future, regrets about past actions.

As for the house, car, job, loved ones, I know that these are not permanent. I am painfully aware from experience that such things will slide through your fingers like water no matter how much you try and hold onto them and possess them. This is a lesson we all come to learn ,there is nothing profound about it; it is a simple truth. The key to dealing with this impermanence is to live without expectation. Don’t expect a particular behaviour from any individual, whether it be a loved one, your boss or a stranger on the street. We humans are unpredictable so expecting nothing from them is a counter measure to disappointment. It is also extremely liberating!  It gives you absolute freedom and control over your life that no amount of  external de-cluttering can do . The least we can do for ourselves is develop an understanding and awareness of what our possessions actually mean to us as individuals as we try and traverse the tricky, unpredictable terrain of our lives. Anything that we truly possess that does not serve us on our journey needs to be decluttered and tossed out with the debris of our yesterdays.



5 thoughts on “Balloons in a Clear Sky

  1. I liked your post. But since this was posted in response to the Writing 101 challenge I have to say there was a big distraction near the beginning for me…
    You wrote, “adopting the life of an aesthetic here.” I think the word you wanted to use was “ASCETIC” . An Aesthetic is someone who appreciates art and beauty, an ascetic is a person who lives a life of severe self-discipline. Both easy words to misspell and misuse. I know this may sound harsh but that one word made a difference in how your post reads for me. Maybe I am not interpreting correctly and if I am sorry!


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