A child that throws a tantrum and goes into a severe crying fit when a toy is taken away is a perfect mirror of our own reality. I saw one do this on the bus ride home yesterday. The child was screaming and squealing "that's mine" in an agonizing state of complete misery. Tears and everything! Misery over what?!? A toy?! No. It is not just a toy. It's "MY" toy. It is a possession. An attachment. An extension of the image of ME. The moment I see something as mine, this thing, this inanimate object, this non-thing, is and becomes a part of who I think I am. This fascinates me!
It starts with MY toy, and later becomes: My car, My house, My friend, My lover, My land, My country. And for the spiritually inclined MY thoughts. The list of the many things we attach ourselves to, we define ourselves by, is endless. We instantly cling and claim ownership over most things we come in contact with. And when these things go away, change, or are taken away (as all things of this world are), we are blinded by misery and all kinds of upsets; the misery and upsets of loss. My loss. We are plagued by disappointment and a sense of unfairness. That belonged to ME. How can I LOSE this? It was MINE. We grieve for our loss.
Everything in this world is temporary. Some of us learn this early on with a loss of a pet, or family member, and some of us go through life losing one thing at a time without ever acknowledging that ALL things in this reality are temporary and fleeting. Family. Friendship. Partnership. Ownership. Situations and circumstances. The forms life takes. Everything changes. All things will pass. Yet we try and impose permanence on these things by calling them "my" or "mine" and convincing ourselves that this is true. It's totally backwards!
Living in a world bound by the laws of birth and death we have at least some peripheral understanding that everything that arises into our awareness (our life) whether it is people, situations, things (and thoughts), will die. It will dissolve. It will go away. Everything of this world has a shelf-life, an expiration date, regardless of our attachment to it. There is no choice in the matter.
Where there is choice is in our recognition and acceptance of this law.
It doesn't mean you live in misery and anxiousness over the possible losses that are to come. Don't go locking yourself up for fear of the inevitable. In fact if you are unhappy it means you are still attached and imposing your self (i.e. in the form of expectations) onto neutral, un-personalize-able things. You still have that "this belongs or should belong to me forever" mentality. Get rid of it.
Where in attachment we experience dysfunction and unhappiness, in detachment and non-identification we find the true joy of living. Experiencing things, people, and situations as they are WHILE they are, is the most freeing feeling you could ever experience, not only for you but for the other person/place/situation as well. Especially with people, freeing them of YOUR expectations and experiencing them as they are is the BEST feeling ever for everyone involved. There is no stress and no mess. When you abstain from imposing your identity onto all things, you can truly grasp the essence caged in the words "if you love something, set it free;" let it be as it is.
Detachment is not disinterest. It is interest without personal investment, the investment and imposition of "my" or "mine." Relinquishing such kind of illusory ownership is the most liberating feeling. When you can love a person, situation, or thing, as it exists without possessing and imposing your own structure on to it, you find the joy of...simply being.
Just BE and set your life FREE.