On Feeling Violated and Being Grateful - Again
Have you ever felt violated? Then felt grateful?
Recently, I felt this way along with some other uncomfortable emotions. It was a struggle at first but through some deep reflection and insight, these feelings no longer affect me.
First, let me give you some background. I recently returned to the United States after traveling overseas quite a bit. I was living a digital nomad lifestyle and writing a book on building resilience. While overseas I received an email from my storage unit management company. They found my storage unit without a lock. Funny, a lock had been there the last time I was in my unit. I notified them that I would check the unit when I returned to the US.
When I got back to the US my storage company had placed another lock on the unit but someone had clearly cut off my old lock. My storage unit was a mess. All my cardboard boxes had been cut open. Various items, such my business suits were strewn about on the dirty, grime-covered floor. Random items were missing, a leather jacket I had paid a lot of money for several years ago, an antique lampstand that my great grandmother had owned, my yoga mat (what the hell?).
I was angry and sad at the same time.
I felt violated. Someone had gone into my space and rifled through my belongings, deciding what was valuable and what was not. They treated my carefully packaged clothes like garbage. They brought chaos to my little well-ordered universe. A few weeks before I made a vlog, while near a beach in Thailand. I discussed how I had lost and then regained my state of gratitude.
Now, I was being challenged like never before. How could I be grateful for this bull shit? Someone violated the sanctity of my well-ordered personal space. I threw myself back into book writing mode. My book ironically enough is called The Grateful Pessimist. At the same time, I began reading Lucius Seneca's Letters From A Stoic. The combination of these two mental exercises gave me pause and perspective.
For the ancient Stoics, nothing happened to YOU in life, events simply occur. You have full control in how to interpret those events, though. While traveling for the past nine months, I have attempted to live a spartan minimalist lifestyle. Now, that I was back in the U.S. I was sliding back into my old lifestyle full of "stuff", "stuff" I mostly never used but felt satisfied that it was around (in case I needed it...which I rarely did).
Perhaps this violation of my storage unit was a wake-up call. Specifically, a wake-up not to trap me into a previously unhelpful lifestyle. A lifestyle that had been unfulfilling and bloated with useless material goods. Goods I had used to justify an existence bereft of new insights and experiences. I am more than my leather jacket and yoga mat. The Stoics would have simply called antique furniture old wood that some people placed value on.
Ultimately, I lived the past nine months living out of a backpack and a large duffle bag. Those containers carried everything I needed to live my life. Why do I need to stop just because I am back in a familiar place? My storage unit is full of consumable goods that are not going to make me any less or happier than I am right now. In that, I am grateful for this lesson.
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