“All the important things in life are invisible.” -Fred Rogers
In our world of keeping up with the neighbors, ever changing fashion, constantly outpacing technology, and ever competative fields it is very easy to be swept up in it all. We seem to have a knack on placing value in things that really have little value at all. Take, for example, my old iPhone 4. It’s 3G which at the time I bought it about 5 years ago was cutting edge technology. At the time it was thought to be sleek and beautiful. It’s operating system was the best. Now it looks like a clunky throwback. It feels like a brick compared to a new device. It is 3G, which in a world on the cusp of 5G is ancient. It’s OS is quaint, but not cutting edge. How quickly the shine fades.
It drives home for me the above quote. Truly, what is important in life are not things we can possess materially. We may think those things are important, especially at the time we purchase them. We protect them, we guard them, we shine them, we display them. But in the end, will you care if they are surrounding you at your deathbed? Are they the things that really bring us satisfaction and value to life?
In reading up on arguments for and against the existance of God, I found an interesting perspective that could be extrapolated here. In Dallas Willard book The Allure of Gentleness he is explaining how the current of human life flow between two poles- pain and pleasure. That both of these poles are necessary and valuable for shaping our lives.
“It is only in the heat of pain and suffering that real human character, both mental and physical, is forged. One does not develop courage without facing danger, patience without trials, wisdom without heart- and brain-racking puzzles, and endurance without suffering, or temperance and honesty without temptations. These are the very things we treasure most about people.” (pg 118).
Out of the above examples, there is no mention here of material things at all. It’s not- “one does not raise a well rounded child without the appropriate smartphone.” You won’t see a quote like: “It is he who drives the best and nicest car who develops the deepest sense of empathy.” In fact, you might think the opposite is true. The more we have, the more we surround ourselves with our things the more detached we become, and arguably more selfish, cynical, and unfullfilled.
Indeed, the truly valuable things in life are not things at all.