The Essence of Having

The thing about having was something I figured out in my hammock on a day in which I’d been reading the dry philosophical work of Martin Heidegger.

I like dry philosophy in the same way one might like dry wine. The displeasure of it is part of its character. There’s something pleasurable about what you don’t like when that thing you don’t like is so consistent, clear, and dependable. Maybe like the annoying habit of a friend. It’s both bothersome and comforting.

Heidegger was posing the question “When is a chair touching the wall?” and using the varying answers to point out that a concept like ‘touching’ exists only in the mind and agreement of human beings.

This was an example, he points out, of how all concepts and ideas work.

Everything we mean is, in fact, an expression of a human being that the concept or idea is or is not. A hammer in a tool shed, Heidegger asserts, is only a hammer when a human being is present with the hammer. Otherwise, there may be something undefined there, but without a human being present, there certainly is no hammer.

Putting down the text and swinging in the hammock, I considered the application of this to a perennial, albeit mysterious wisdom I’d been reflecting on recently then too. It was a line from the New Testament of the Christian bible, in the book of Matthew, that goes something like, “To those who have more will be given and to those who have not, all will be taken away.” 

If I’m honest, what turned me on about the phrase at first was how honest it was about reality as we know it.

I like it when love hugs you and punches you in the gut at the same time.

The idea that ‘all will be taken away’ stings the victim to hear. Where is the compassion and care in that? Reality is a bitch, karma kicks your ass and entropy doesn’t give a shit what you want. Nobody is coming to save you and, the fact worth facing is that to those who have not, like the last bit of swirling water down the bathtub drain, all will be taken away.

Right there though, in the to and fro powered by my foot on the hammock, I thought about having as Heidegger did touching.

“When does a person ‘have’ something?” I whispered to myself. 

When my thinking gets serious, it tends to verbalize. Maybe everyone whispers to themselves when their thinking gets serious, I don’t know. But I like that I do it. It’s a dramatic moment in my little movie with me playing myself in my life.

If a chair touching the wall comes down to an agreement between people about how close it needs to be to be ‘touching’, then certainly having something must work in the same way.

When does a person have money? Is it when the new client says yes? Or when they paid the invoice? Or when the funds first reach their account? Or when the funds fully post and become available? Or do they need to be withdrawn and held as cash? Where does the cash need to be for you to have it? In your house, in your wallet, in your hand? Do you have to eat the cash to have it? Cut open your head or your chest and insert it inside of you? When do you have it? 

Everyone has an idea of when they have something and then they live that idea out. When their idea matches what they experience from the out there, then they have it, when it doesn’t, they don’t. 

This was seriously one of those holy shit moments. I even stopped pushing off the column and let the hammock come to a rest, because I needed to put all of my attention on the ramifications of realizing that everything I have, have ever had and will ever have actually comes down to whether or not I’m choosing the perspective that I have it.

This idea deepened for me when some weeks later, I was hugging my wife goodbye at the airport. 

“How crazy is it that I am missing you right now?!” I whispered to my wife while chuckling at the longing ache I was feeling for the woman I had wrapped in my arms. 

What I found so funny and what deepened my understanding of the plasticity of having was that I was missing my wife while she was still with me and I knew that while she was away there would be plenty of time, in fact most of the time, when she was nowhere nearby and I was not missing her at all.

While my wife was in my arms as I hugged her goodbye at the airport, I was NOT having her there, and hence my ache for her presence. Instead, I was having her absence and experiencing that. 

To those who have not, all will be taken away. In this way, my ‘not having’ made her gone before she was gone.

The inverse is equally true, that the more I have something, the more it is given to me. By having her with me, be it in my mind without her physical presence or in my mind in tandem with her presence, I got more of that. More fulfillment, more closeness, more love, more care, more companionship.

To those who have all will be given. 

It is this waking up to subjectivity and relativism of having that unlocked a freedom and power to create that I’d long known was there but had had difficulty really grasping.

This great power to create had remained, for a very long time, on the other side of what seemed like insanity

Long had I understood the power of using our mind to manifest new realities in form, but I had always met with conflict when my imaginings seemed not to match up with reality

Never had I considered this lack of matching was due not to something out there not matching with something in here, but instead simply the position I was taking on what having was. Or what touching was. Or what missing was. 

Right there, was the deepest power to create I’d ever discovered. It wasn’t in an insight about what to do or how to use my mind but at a far deeper level. A level in which I constructed reality and my world. How I made sense of the world. 

This was going to change things forever. But first, back to swinging.

Loving us all, JPM

PS – Go even deeper with this video that I made from my hammock sharing my insight about how dissolving the distinction between ‘having’ and ‘not having’ can paradoxically help you to have everything you want.