Reflection 233: Ownership

February 17, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin

The loops of personal engagement by which I see us reaching out to our worlds through various gestures, and those worlds reaching in to us as parties responsible for such actions as we have taken or are considering—these loops exist in our brains as molecules, ions, neurotransmitters, and pulsing electrical charges coursing across cell membranes and through networks of nerve fibers. Wholly oblivious to this rush of neural traffic, we entertain only a flow of sensory phenomena through our minds, which we duly interpret, understand, emotionally probe, compare, remember for a time, and even feed forward to the planning areas of our minds. In due course we answer the world by making a physical response appropriate to our grasp of the situation we think we are in. (CONSCIOUSNESS: The BOOK, p. 112.)

I was not thinking about ownership when I wrote those words, but it strikes me after the fact that in owning anything at all, it is because we regard a great variety of things as extensions of our mental domain as established by our personal engagements with our surroundings. We use those extensions as accessories: tools, cars, vitamin pills, clothing, tobacco, liquor, partners, pets, etc. We treat them as essential to our interactions with the world, and come to rely on them because they help us define who we are. Without them, we are unsure what to do and how to proceed, much as a robin is lost outside its territory.

I didn’t encounter what I’d call an ego during my 30-year bout of introspection, but I did meet a sort of slavish devotion to my loop of engagement—which amounts to much the same thing. I sometimes get so engaged that I forget that there are other ways of doing things than I am used to, which may well make me come across as woodenheaded or set in my ways. Without my glasses or favorite winter shirt it is easy for me to feel lost. My loop is broken, requiring new methods if I am to carry on as before.

My glasses are crucial parts of my daily routine, as are the clothes I wear, the food I eat, the pills beside my plate, my laptop, and the three books I am concurrently reading. I feel these items are necessary to my well-being. I own them. They are mine because they render me recognizable to myself. Take them from me and I’m not sure who I am, much as the Koch brothers would be lost without their family fortune, or the robin without its own worm.

Ownership, accessories, loops of engagement—there you have an alternative scenario for a good deal of human behavior. I thought you’d want to know so you could try it out as a new way of looking at your own behavior.

Yours for an interesting today and a better tomorrow. –Steve

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