Being instead of having

When I was a child I wanted to be an adventurer — traveling the world and exploring the high seas. Later, as I grew, I was taught that to become an adventurer I must have something, namely a job so that I could get money to live while adventuring. So that’s what I did. I went to school, got a job and on the side would do a little traveling here and there, taking photos and noting things in my journal — pretty tame adventurer I’d become. 

What I now know is that being is very different than having. We might “be” an artist, engineer, scientist, healer or adventurer but without giving into this “being” we are often just using these activities towards “having.” 

We can have money but we can not have “being.”

My friend tells the story that when he was young all he wanted was “To be rich.” And he is rich. Has a jet and five houses, buildings, and he has many people who work for him. He has money. Tons of money. He often worries that people want his money and might try to cheat him and take it away from him unfairly. He has very little peace.

One day I asked him what he wanted to be before he wanted to have lots of money. 

“I wanted to be a farmer,” he said. “But I would have had to get up too early and never leave the farm,” he said, and then he laughed like he’d told the story many times before. 

I waited. 

My friend became quiet. 

Following my breath, I began to count, quietly in my mind: 1…2…3…4…

My friend sighed.

“But what a life, to be a farmer,” my friend said and then turned to look out the window.

The question is, What does it mean to “be” something? This question is certainly worth meditating over.