You can never own all the magic in the world
My favourite thing about humanity is that we buy stars. Think about that for a moment.
We look up at the celestial realm, and we look up at the night sky, into the expanse of space, into the dark unknown of the universe, and we see these beautiful pinpoints of light, billions of miles away.
And then we go online and buy them, and print out little certificates and claim that we own that fraction of eternity.
I don’t know what it is, but it’s like humans have this need to own all the magic in the world.
We can’t just look at something beautiful and take it for what it is, we want to stick a flag in it and call it ours.
We want to own the stars along with our TVs and our cars and our houses and our steak knives and our collections of shot glasses we picked up at regional sales conferences in the midwest.
I wish I could look at something beautiful and just appreciate it. I could go hiking, or play in the woods, or look at a jet plane do a barrel roll, and feel nothing but awe and excitement.
The older I get, the more I want to ask about its resale value and how many payments I’d have to make on it. And hey, what would the interest rate be like on the loan?
The older I get, the harder it seems to be to enjoy things without wanting them for myself, and myself alone. I hope I’m not the only person who’s going through this, because that would make me feel like such a selfish asshole.
When I see a car I love, I can’t appreciate it for the beautiful design, I’ve got to go find out how much it would cost me to buy it, and somehow reassure myself that I could have it, if I really wanted it. I’m unable to enjoy it at all until I’ve done that.
It’s hard to realize, that you can’t always own the magic in the world. Sometimes, you have to be a bystander, a fly on the wall, a watcher. Sometimes, you have to let the world pass you by and just look on in wonder. And I know that’s not easy to do.
Do you know the one thing that terrifies everyone with an internet connection?
That everything they’re doing with their lives has been a waste, and doesn’t match up to what could have been. I think this is unique to the connected world, because for the first time, we have completely unfettered access to every life on the planet, and every sliver of beauty in the galaxy.
And because we can see it all, we can want it all, and we can highlight every little thing that’s wrong or missing from our lives, things we’d never have imagined otherwise.
A few months ago, I drove out to Castle Hill. It’s a neighbourhood that I grew up in, another lifetime ago.
I drove to the top of the Castle Towers’ mall carpark, and I parked the four wheeler and got out and sat on the hood, looking out over the suburbia that I called home.
Trying to pick where in the sea of little lights my old home would be located.
I started thinking about what my life was like, when I lived there and I dreamed there, and my crummy punk rock band played crummy shows there.
I remembered starting my first business there, and I remembered driving home after I’d flown in from my first overseas tour.
I had so many things I wanted to do back then, and I thought I was destined for so much, I thought I was going to own the world.
I looked at the accomplishments of my idols, their products and their companies and their albums. I looked at Steve Jobs, and I couldn’t just enjoy what he’d built at Apple, I asked myself how I could build something in the same league.
I looked at The Clash, and instead of listening to London Calling and finding the magic in that one bass line from Guns of Brixton, I asked myself how my band could make something like that.
Sitting up on that roof, I started to wonder if I’ve ever really enjoyed anything for what it was, or for what it made me feel.
I started to wonder if I haven’t spent my whole life chasing after beautiful things that I wanted to make my own.
I started to wonder if I’d love my life a little more if I didn’t want to put my stamp on it all.
You can’t own the magic in the world, and I wish we could find a way to stop wanting to.
But maybe it’s just a byproduct of the world we live in, and we’re conditioned to always search for the chance to buy and own, and maybe there’s nothing we can do about it.
Here’s the comforting thought though. Whether or not we can buy it, the beauty is still going to be out there to look at.
The magic is still going to be hidden in the corners of the world, or in plain sight, and it won’t matter that there’s no way we can make the credit card payments on it.
There’s a line from Ram Dass that I never understood when I was younger. He said, as soon as we no longer want it all, we can have it all.
I think I tried to find something in there like The Secret, that would unlock my potential to own and do all that I wanted, but now I’ve started to get what he meant.
As soon as you stop wanting the world, you can appreciate it for what it is. And you can enjoy it, without it being yours.
I don’t know if I have it in me to get to that point. It feels like a level of enlightenment and wisdom that’s way beyond my grasp.
All I can hope is that day by day, I’ll start to want a little less, and start to appreciate a little more.