I seem to be deficient in the sentimental value department. I tried to think of a few longtime possessions that I would miss if they suddenly disappeared, but came up short. There are a few old things that I value—two just-right-for-me coffee mugs I bought in the Navigators gift shop twenty years ago, our 1998 Honda Odyssey minivan which we bought new and now has 360,000 miles on it, our Perfex pepper mill which my mother-in-law gave us as a wedding gift after taking my broad hint that I would like one—but I wouldn’t miss them if they were gone, the memories would still be there and most likely I’d find something that served the function just as well.
I think that’s why I was so delighted when I first read this anecdote about Ajahn Chah:
“Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”
When Tara Brach quoted it, she prefaced it by saying “The Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah teaches us about cherishing, but not holding on.” Exactly right.