Like a lot of people, I have been indoctrinated with the idea that owning a home is the fulfillment of the “American dream.” But after spending a recent weekend in my West Hollywood apartment, rather than airborne to some distant city or country, it occurred to me that I now seem to find apartment living much more enjoyable and gratifying than my former lifestyle as a homeowner — even with everyone telling me I am wasting money on rent.
As I contemplated how this strange change had come about in my sense of satisfaction, it occurred to me that my entire values system had likewise become transformed. That is to say, having opted to drop out of what was enthusiastically promoted a few years ago as the “ownership society,” I no longer believe we actually “own” anything in this world. The whole idea that we can own a piece of real estate and the wooden or brick or stone structure that sits atop of it, or the car in the garage, is short-term thinking. All of our so-called possessions – and even our accomplishments – are not really ours in any permanent sense, but are meant to be passed on to subsequent generations. If they weren’t, our species wouldn’t be sustainable.
So what if we were to start thinking of everything we have as simply “on loan” until the next generation comes along to temporarily claim the use of it, and that we really own nothing? Would it have a significant impact on our way of living, and the way we not only regard our ‘earthly possessions,” but the earthly resources we use to enable that lifestyle? I happen to think it would.
Maybe it’s what happens when you go from being an owner to a renter.