The Illusion of Ownership

It’s difficult to let go. Of our possessions, of people, of the past. We can even become attached to our expectations of the future and what we hope to have happen. What is worse – letting go of something we are attached to or letting that attachment chain us to the wall?

Today I find myself looking at pictures of my house. When I bought my house, it was a foreclosure, it wasn’t very pretty. I think most people would’ve thought I was absolutely nuts to buy a house (on my own) in that condition. But it was cheap. And I saw potential. And my parents saw potential and gave me their support. Before I went to my closing (to sign the final papers with the real estate company) I remember calling my Dad, in tears, and saying “please, you have to promise me you’ll help me”. He assured me he would.

And he kept his promise, and my mother, too. They helped me fix up my little two-story brick and cedar house in a “transitional” neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They sanded the dirty hard wood floors, installed new plumbing so I would have water and a working toilet. My Dad installed ceiling fans and light fixtures and door locks. He carried my washing machine and dryer down the basement stairs (with my help, which is almost like saying “all by himself”).  My mother worked for hours cleaning closets and painting walls. She scrubbed the used stove that I purchased for hours, making it shiny and new. All this while enduring my bossiness and demands for perfection! They really are troopers. And I spent weeks staining my hard wood floors, scraping gunk off of the kitchen cupboards, bleaching the bathtub so it was no longer black. It was a lot of work.

But when my house was fixed up well enough for me to live in and be comfortable, I wanted to make even more improvements, like remodeling the kitchen and bathroom. I wanted to do all of this so that a) I could sell the house someday and b) to have a nice home. That’s when my then 21 year old nephew, Matthew, stepped in. He was going to school nearby and could work on my house in the evenings. He needed a job and I needed a cheap laborer I could trust. It worked out great.

Matthew and I worked on my house every evening, Mon – Thurs for about three months straight. It was hell. It was blood. It was sweat. It was tears. (Mostly my tears.) But we bonded and we had fun, too. He installed new plumbing, knocked out a wall, moved a gas line, installed new electrical outlets, moved the duct work, installed a new hardwood floor, and tiled my granite countertops. I sanded, stained, scraped, cleaned, and painted until I had blisters and bruises. With the help of my Dad,  a new ceiling, a new door, and a new window were installed. In the end, I had a beautiful kitchen that I was so very proud of, and of course, I was proud of my nephew, too. He was ever so resourceful, learning how to do things he had never done before. I was very lucky of because of these factors: 1) My nephew is smart as hell 2) My brother-in-law (Matthew’s dad) is a carpenter 3) My sister (Matthew’s mom), remodeling her kitchen about the same time I remodeled mine, allowing Matthew to see first hand how it was done.

It seems that when something is meant to be and you’re following your heart, things fall into place. Everything works out. People will help you, people will come in out of the blue (like my neighbor, Celeste, who taught me how to garden and prune my rose bush). The universe will come together to make it happen.

I loved my house and I lived there for a little over five years. But things were no longer working for me, at least on a personal level. The world was no longer falling into place for me. And I wanted other things, like to travel and expand. So I rented my house and hit the road.

Almost a year later, without even putting my house up for sale, someone has offered me a decent price on it with a rent-to-buy option. This works perfect for me. I want to leave, I will have to sell that house to buy another house, and I don’t want to sell it quite yet, as I’m not sure where I want to live.

The world is working for me in every way because this is what is meant to be, this is how I wanted it to be. But I find myself having a really difficult time letting go.  It’s been weeks and I can’t seem to make a decision about my house. Why am I sitting here looking at pictures of my house and reminiscing? Why can’t I just pull the trigger and take the guy’s offer?

Because I’m emotionally attached to that house, that’s why. And it breaks my heart to let it go. But by clinging to it, I’m only limiting myself. I’m not expanding, I won’t be able to forge ahead. And that’s why this world works for you when you make positive changes in your life – when you try to expand, when you try to grow and be bigger.

Did you know that the universe is ALWAYS EXPANDING? How incredible is that? I just started thinking about this recently. The universe gets BIGGER all the time. It’s always changing; it always wants more. We’re supposed to want more as human beings. We’re supposed to go out and get whatever our hearts desire. But we can’t get anywhere if we cling to what we already think we have, even though we don’t actually “own” anything – the universe owns our possessions (and us), ultimately.  We can’t move ahead if we seriously think we possess anything and can’t let go of what we don’t really own. Afterall, I still have a mortgage, which means the bank actually owns my house, not me 🙂

My kitchen when I first bought my house.

My kitchen after the remodel.



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2 Responses to The Illusion of Ownership

  1. neill says:

    It is odd. I’ve been working on my house for many hrs/day for the last 7 yrs and yet one of my major goals in life is to NOT own a house or car. To me owning nothing would be the ultimate freedom.

  2. Austin says:

    The real illusion is that you believe you owned “your” house at all. Like you said the bank is who owns it… kind of, or is it the county, the state, the nation, china etc. You pay taxes on your land every year, even if you paid your mortgage off you are still technically “leasing.” Anything you have that you consider yours can easily be taken away from you if you stop paying your accrued debt or reccurent debt. So how can anyone say they own anything in a commodified world?

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