Do You Have The Right Stuff?

While there has been much talk over the ages about the meaning of life, if we boil things down to the bare minimum, we are left with the fact that there are two kinds of stuff … the disappearing stuff and the everlasting stuff. Or put another way, the wrong stuff and the right stuff. Life is all about which stuff we want, and spend our time going after.

We are up to necks with the disappearing stuff. Not only is it ubiquitous, it’s everywhere. Redundancy aside, wherever you are right now, just look around. As far as the eye can see, we are surrounded by the disappearing stuff. We can look up, down, sideways, do a 360, it doesn’t matter. The disappearing stuff has us surrounded. We can’t escape the disappearing stuff.

As the late satirist George Carlin aptly pointed out, our houses are just boxes with a lid on them in which to put our stuff. The more successful we are in this life, the more disappearing stuff we get. And the more we get, the more places we need to put it. Upward mobility means we accumulate the disappearing stuff at a greater rate than others. It's amazing billionaires can find places to put all their stuff. So we need bigger or more places to put our disappearing stuff. “Wow, have you seen all the Jones’s disappearing stuff? They need two houses with three garages just to store all their disappearing stuff. The Jones’s are very successful people.”

Success is measured by the size of our pile of disappearing stuff. Yet, all piles are not equal. If our pile is mostly used lawnmowers, old sofas and rusted pick-up trucks lying about the yard, we are not as successful as those folks whose piles of disappearing stuff are comprised of expensive cars, commercial real estate and lots of gold and jewelry. And there are professional disappearing stuffmongers. They’re called pickers. Some even have their own TV shows that highlight their skill at picking “valuable” disappearing stuff from the piles of other folks disappearing stuff. Then, they re-sell it to us for our pile.

Some people accumulate so much disappearing stuff in their attics, garages and basements that they have to sell their excess disappearing stuff in order to keep enough space in their houses to keep the flow of disappearing stuff coming in. So, we have garage sales, yard sales and now we can even sell our excess disappearing stuff on-line to others in need of more disappearing stuff. Such is the ebb and flow of disappearing stuff.

And if we go to a store, which is an even bigger box to put a lot of the disappearing stuff, we are encouraged to buy more disappearing stuff to take home with us because the store has more disappearing stuff coming in by the truckload. “Two for one sale on this disappearing stuff. Hurry supplies of this disappearing stuff are limited.” Never mind, the store will have new disappearing stuff next week. But we can’t help ourselves. Addicted, we compulsively walk out of the store with more disappearing stuff. [Black Friday Stuff].

In fact, there is so much disappearing stuff being made every day that we need huge 18 wheel trucks to move it around. Some of the disappearing stuff is put on container ships and cargo planes and sent to other countries that don’t have as much disappearing stuff as we do. And if a natural disaster strikes someplace, many countries respond by sending them lots of disappearing stuff because the disaster wiped out a lot of their disappearing stuff. That’s why it's a disaster. “Some of our disappearing stuff disappeared. SOS, Send Over Stuff.”

If we turn on our televisions to watch something, the program stops frequently so disappearing stuff makers can sell us their disappearing stuff. And if we hurry, we can get twice as much disappearing stuff for the price of one bunch of disappearing stuff. And then they will throw in even more disappearing stuff for free! Free disappearing stuff!! These guys must have so much disappearing stuff that they don’t have a place to put it all, so they give it away. “Have some free disappearing stuff, we don’t have any more room for it!”

Our entire national economies are based on selling more disappearing stuff to other countries than we buy from them. Otherwise we have a trade deficit, which means we've got to get our collective act together because those other guys are making better and cheaper disappearing stuff than we are. If nobody wants to buy our disappearing stuff, we lose our jobs, which means we can’t buy any more disappearing stuff. We need to make our stuff great again. And if these other countries don't pony up for more of our disappearing stuff, then we start a trade war to help them get the message. Around and around it goes. [Stuffocation].

And if we look in a mirror, what do we see? A whole lot of disappearing stuff that looks just like you and me. Even our bodies are made out of the disappearing stuff. And the older we get, we notice that some of it starts to disappear before we’re even finished with it. How is it muscle and hair disappear while the belly grows more disappearing stuff that mysteriously refuses to disappear? It’s because we put more disappearing stuff into our bodies than we can get rid of. So, it has piles of disappearing stuff too.

Yet, at the end of it all, we don’t even take any of the disappearing stuff with us. What!? We leave it behind for others to have to put someplace. [I'm Gone, But My Stuff Is Still Here]. “Okay Tom, you get this and this and this disappearing stuff. Mary, you get this and this and this disappearing stuff.” And if one of our relatives doesn't get left enough disappearing stuff, they get really upset. “After all I did for him, he didn’t leave me any good disappearing stuff. I only got his incense collection. And if I use it, the stuff disappears.” Nothing worse than disappearing disappearing stuff. [See Rev. 21:1; also the Feature article, Brown Paint: Quantum Potentialities].

Probably the best read concerning all this disappearing stuff is the Book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon, the king of Israel, wrote it. [See the Sneakers article, All That Is Done Under The Sun]. He had more disappearing stuff than anyone else. He came to the wise realization that all this disappearing stuff wasn’t really what life is all about. It’s all vanity. Life is about the other stuff, the everlasting stuff. Yet, most people don’t get it. We waste our lives chasing after all that disappearing stuff. Some will even lie, cheat, swindle, and scheme to pry that disappearing stuff out of our hands. There are entire Wall Street firms devoted to this pursuit. I guess they flunked History 101. The pharaohs, for all their plotting, didn’t take the disappearing stuff with them. These Wall Street guys must think they’re smarter. They’re not. [See Mat. 6:25-34].

“Go now, you that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas you don't know what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is a vapour that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” [James 4:13, 14].

Everything of this universe, including the universe, is nothing but disappearing stuff. And for most people, the disappearing stuff is their world. But we really shortchange ourselves if we live this life in the pursuit of the disappearing stuff. [See the Feature article, Is That You, Big Brother?]. We are vapors chasing the wind as Solomon and James phrased it. You’d think that this lesson would be so very obvious. On an intellectual level it is. We all know that it’s harder for a person rich in the disappearing stuff to enter into the kingdom of God. But it doesn’t stop most folks for trying to squeeze through that needle's eye because disappearing stuff looms so large in our lives.

The kingdom of God, which is the everlasting stuff, seems so small in our daily lives, nearly imperceptible, that we don’t have time for it in our disappearing stuff lives. Yet if we are wise, we understand the end game. That which appears great is nothing, while that which appears least is the greatest reward.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of seeds; but when it is grown, it is greater among herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” [Mat. 13: 31, 32].

Italics and [ ] are the author's.

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