Like most people in rich counties, I find myself all too often falling into the trap of thinking that identity can be purchased. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that this mistaken belief is the source of endless fool’s errands. Life isn’t necessarily made more authentic by acquiring this and that. If anything, the acquired thing (whatever it happens to be–clothing, entertainment, etc.) has no influence on character. Most of the time, especially for the fortunate, the thing in question is something we already have. This confirms that the thing in question is just a temporary mental fixation. These fixations are an easy escape from a thornier mental issue–the quest for identity. Many Mahayana Buddhists believe that identity is an illusion, that it blinds us to the reality of our interconnectedness. That may well be so. But for day to day life, simpler ideas will suffice. “I already have one,” when true, are some of the most powerful words we can speak. By not filling the container to the top, we can leave space for living.

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