I was gifted yesterday with the serendipitous discovery of this Latin phrase:
Ad usum simplicem
It translates as “for the simple use of”.
As I read it, I was struck by the realization that here I am, in this world, surrounded by people, creatures, plants, sky and terrain and water, experiences (pleasant, unpleasant and neutral) and my current material possessions…
Yet each of these is truly only being loaned to me. While it is easy to see them as “mine” – to assume they will always be around, or at the very least readily accessible – they really are not.
I am not the Owner but instead the Caretaker of all that happens to me, all that touches my life in any way.
This simple phrase, ad usum simplicem, reached out from an ancient, so-called “dead” language (Yeah, right!) and caused my heart and mind to come alive with a vibrant resurrection message:
“This? Everything you have, had have and ever will have? This never ending list of responsibilities?
All of it is ‘for the simple use of’. Anything beyond that would be excess and presumptuous attachment.”
“Simple use” is compassionate, not manipulative. It states, “This is not yours to own. It is yours to appreciate…merely by its presence in your path today.”
Technically, I truly own nothing. I am here simply interacting with an amazing world that carries extremes of beauty and harshness, and everything in between, and I do so only during these short moments I am honored to walk this earth. Just the privilege of interacting – of existing here – is the gift we each are given. Some gifts might linger longer; others may only visit me briefly, but either way, I have no say, no power over how long I have them in my life.
As I thought on this, I committed to practice creating the following inner view:
To see each experience as “on loan”…as a privilege, an honor that I may cherish and for which I elect to feel nothing but gratitude. I would seek a reason to appreciate each of my experiences today, respecting its appearance, recognizing that life may ask me to release any of it in any moment.
Because each gift that appears is “on loan”, I must eventually be capable of relinquishing each one…with no attachment. This total letting go is possible if I practiced treating the person, experience or thing with joyful appreciation for its presence in the moments I interacted with it, with no conditions attached, no expectations of its longevity, no attitude of entitlement. Whether present for a few moments, hours, days or years…I am in no way entitled to continue to receive them. Instead, as they appear in my life, my heart’s mission is to give them my fullest appreciation for as long as they are here.
Now, how do we accomplish this “relinquishing without attachment” part? Attachment seems inevitable, especially when our Heart becomes invested in any way.
Being willing and able to relinquish without attachment isn’t exactly saying I am a disconnected, unfeeling, heartless automaton.
Ironically, it is quite the opposite.
If I am practicing remaining in a state of gratitude regarding the people, the experiences, the material possessions I have right now, if I care enough to be present and available, then this ever deepening appreciation I experience will cause a deeper connection, actually creating the only path that allows me to “own” what is being gifted to me. Later on, this commitment to grateful presence softens my heart, enabling me to release more fully. This is not meant to be a shortcut through the grief of letting go; it is instead a means to gently travel that difficult path, enabling us to bring all that we gave and received earlier when we were present with gratitude, so that we may walk with strength and compassion and honor.
There is really no other way for us to “possess” our experiences, our loved ones, all that is given to us “on loan”. We fear their loss…but Gratitude is how we are wired to “own”, to keep whatever life hands to us, so we do not truly “lose” them.
If gratitude is either absent, or partial, we are not able to fully partake of the gifts that are there. And when the gift is not readily apparent, as during our more difficult circumstances, this is how we are challenged to continue seeking the gift…and thereby to grow. Every experience we have is lovingly asking us to be curious…to have faith there IS a gift within it, whether we can see it initially or not.
Life never hands me perfection. How presumptuous would it be for me to expect that all will be – SHOULD BE – easy! This would be quite an unbalanced attitude, as we know there will always be a mix of what we might label as “good”, “bad” or “neutral.
So, we each receive…whatever is there in our path.
A naive and simplistic thought?
No ~ this is actually not quite as “Duh!” a statement as it first appears!
Just consider how many times a day we fight against what has just landed in our lap that we DON’T like or want, and yet we so easily accept what we DO like and want. But who ever said we get to have everything our way? That we get to be happy all the time?
That’s literally impossible, right?
Well, actually in one respect, it IS possible.
If we can learn to turn our perspective into one of continuous gratitude…an attitude that expects the gift always, a mindset that seeks the gift always…
THEN we are actually receiving everything “our way” because gratitude will cause us to experience it as so.
We will begin noticing that we already have all that we need in every moment and this creates and builds contentment. And when we see life as “on loan” rather than a race to “own” – adopting an ad usum simplicem mindset – boundaries dissolve, walls fall…and openness abounds.
Gratitude, then, IS a type of Pause…a very, very Powerful Pause. It takes us from “loan” to “own”. Not only will it enable us to see more clearly how to solve the problems that will inevitably appear; it will also promote healing, soften conflict, lower stress and grow compassion…and that’s only the beginning.
With gratitude continuously applied, dissatisfaction gradually melts away, anger and sorrow are mitigated…and we find our beliefs beginning to shift.
Gratitude has the Power to change everything it touches…because Gratitude is a way to express Love.
Yet how much power it can have depends solely on each one of us and how much of it we incorporate into our daily lives.
When we see ourselves as Caretakers of all that is being loaned to us, we are freed from grasping and greed, and released into pure appreciation.
We cannot really possess anything…ever. Because as soon as we leave this earth, all will be left behind…
And someone or something else will take over.
The only mark we can leave is the legacy of how we interacted with what was given to us in every moment…and the only actual “ownership” we can have of these gifts is through Gratitude. Ultimately, choosing Gratitude is our gift to our own life…and subsequently reciprocated to our world.
When it is time to let something go, the degree to which we expended the most gratitude for it, while we “had” it, will determine the ease with which we can release it. The more we were present through Gratitude, the more tightly we became locked into the connection we created then, and this lives on, even when the person, the experience, the object is no longer with us.
Gratitude is our greatest asset as human beings, if we will but trust it, allowing it to eventually become an unconscious and natural response to everything.
“Ad usum simplicem”
“For the simple use of”
Gratitude takes us from “loan” to “own”.
We own nothing.
Everything is ours.