This is a story that my amazing friend Francesca taught me about non-attachment.
Francesca is from Italy. She is the bravest, most adventurous person I've ever met. She's lived and traveled all over the world and had more experiences in her thirty years than most people have in a lifetime.
At one point, she spent a while in New York. She was making good money waiting tables, but she didn't have any friends, and she was very lonely. To satisfy the emptiness, she developed a fabulous shopping habit and went on one particularly impressive shopping spree. (Like I said, she's Italian, so she knows designer clothes.)
Francesca thought, "If I dress well, people will want to hang out with me." Well, that didn't exactly happen. Everyone in NY had their own busy lives. So, she and her incredible clothes just went on about their own lonely way.
Eventually, she ran out of money—having spent it all on clothes. She went back to Florence to reassess her next steps. She had been planning on traveling throughout Asia, but without the money she had been planning to save in NY, that idea fell through.
She decided to head here to San Francisco, where she had many friends (and where I was so blessed to meet her). She packed up all her clothes — everything she had bought in NY — in one suitcase.
During the transit, her luggage was lost. Forever.
Learn the moral of the tale when you read more.
When she realized that it was gone, she was devastated. She arrived in San Francisco with only the clothes on her back and the shame of having squandered all her money on material belongings that she no longer had.
So here's what happened . . .
Her friends in San Francisco rallied around her, and started giving her clothes. So many lovely, beautiful clothes . . . and these were given with love, not purchased with loneliness money. Francesca felt so honored by their generosity.
She realized that the lost suitcase and all the clothes in it represented only sadness and loneliness. A surge of happiness came over her as she realized that they were just THINGS, and they had certainly never made her content.
Since then, Francesca's approach to tangible belongings is permanently altered. She can pack up every single thing she owns in the world in a couple of backpacks. The things that are now important to her are the things without a price tag: her friends, her travels, her memories and experiences.
Santosha (contentment) has nothing to do with money. And Francesca inspires me every day.