Motivation for the Marketplace
Motivation for the Marketplace
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This “stuff” hinders me, distracts me and burdens me all the time.
The Burden and the Distraction of “Stuff”

    I made a bad choice last week. As I drove toward my downtown office, I spotted a man walking briskly through the heavy rain. Instinctively I thought, “I need to stop and offer him a ride.” Preparing to stop, I glanced over into the passenger seat and noticed a pile of...well, “stuff” would be the best way to describe it. A stack of work prepared the night before, a camera, a jacket, my cell phone, and several telephone messages tucked inside my Day Timer occupied the seat my neighbor in the rain really did need. Seeing the pile of “stuff” and thinking of the hassle required to clear it away for a passenger, I drove past the now dripping wet man on the street.

    For the next fifteen minutes I carried on a conversation with myself about the decision.

    “The traffic behind me would have been a problem had I stopped. And besides, moving the stack of papers might have messed up my hard work!” I reasoned with the voice inside.

    “Yes, but did you see how cold and miserable that guy was?” My interior “friend” shot back.

    “Yes, I saw him. Poor guy. But, stopping would have been a major ordeal with all this ‘stuff’ here. Do you know how much trouble it would have been to move it all into the back seat, quickly get him in the car and get going again? Why, my ‘stuff’ would have ended up all over the back floorboard,” I reasoned.

    “Yes, I know. But, he was on his way to work. Didn’t you see his lunch box and his uniform?” the pesky voice pressed on.

    “Yeah, that caught my eye. I feel bad, but what about my ‘stuff’? I can see him now, jumping in the car, slinging water everywhere and ruining my stuff,” I said, my frustration growing.

    “Your ‘stuff’?” the voice quietly reflected. “Why such a preoccupation with the material? He was already soaked to the bone. What about him?”

    Silence filled my nice clean car. Me and my “stuff” arrived at work intact and dry. I went about my day, but I couldn’t get my neighbor or the voice out of my head. No doubt he finally caught his bus and rode dripping wet to work. Just one of those things, I guess.

    But, I know I made a mistake. Sadly, it is not such an unusual mistake for me. My “stuff” gets in the way frequently. All too often I can’t do what I should do, what deep down inside I want to do because of all the “stuff” I’ve worked so hard to drag into my life. This “stuff” hinders me, distracts me and burdens me all the time. So why do I cling to it so tenaciously? Does it provide me a weird illusion of security? Does it define me in terms of status, success, effectiveness? Is it a strange, material source of denial keeping me from embracing and understanding my humanity and my connection to every other person in this city? A thousand questions like these flooded my mind. I know one thing for sure: I would have enjoyed a much better day had I picked the guy up!

    But, something else is clear as well. I missed out on meeting a neighbor. Basically, I traded a chance encounter with another person for a seat full of junk and a moment of ease and convenience. Bad trade. I hope I won’t be so foolish next time. Like I said, I made a bad choice last week.


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