“To be, to have, to think, to move — which of these verbs is the one you feel most connected to? Or is there another verb that characterizes you better?”
This was the daily prompt for October 1. It got me thinking, a lot. I felt I just had to write.
I was a teenager, as rebellious as most and my mother, had just read what she thought was the best book she had ever seen. Written by the philosopher Eric Fromm, it was called To Have or To Be. I was to read it, then and there, it was important and could change my life.
My motorbike, my girlfriend, my hidden stash of tobacco, now these were important and going to change my life. And besides didn’t the title say it all. Life was too short, I wasn’t going to read it. Fast forward a few decades. The motorcycle I sold soon after; the girlfriend got married, to someone else; and the cigarettes, well I saw sense. And I have still yet to read that book – some rebellion burns in me still.
Yet, the question it asked was a good one. Is it better, however you may define better, to have lots of something or to be something. Partly out of guilt perhaps, I have often found myself wondering about this and I have always come to the same conclusion. It is better to be than to have. Having is good, make no mistake, especially when you have not. I see it as a threshold thing. Below a certain level money, shelter, food, are all potentially critical. On the other hand beyond that threshold, their importance can rapidly diminish for me and then it is simply habit or competitiveness that motivates me to gain more.
Being happy, loved, healthy, these I do not feel have a simple threshold; and yet, I began to question that too, something about being just didn’t feel right. Feel, I have now use the word twice in one sentence. To have, to be or to feel. I have to say that now I feel that ‘to feel’ is the critical verb. Do I feel happy, healthy, or loved; do I feel I have enough money, a warm enough house, or enough food.
Whether I am happy, or healthy or whatever, is less important than whether I feel I am.