George Eliot’s wonderful novel `Silas Marner’ is a tale of betrayal, gold and love. Framed by his best friend of robbery, Silas becomes a recluse and focuses his affection and attention to his gold pieces. Silas’s love for his gold is a product of his spiritual dislocation. After his gold is stolen one night, Silas discovers a treasure far more valuable than any gold could be- love. In the shape of a young girl who has lost her mother, Silas discovers through fatherhood and love, that no man is an island. Disconnection and materialism will not make you whole.
After a trip to India many years ago, I came home with a new found look at my world. I found in India a peace inside myself that I had never felt before. A stillness almost. I realised that I was so caught up in a world of wanting more. More money, more possessions, more clothes etc. The want in me had become out of control. As I stated in a previous blog (which you can find here: https://brendonjohnsonblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/i-am-a-spiritual-being-having-a-human-experience/) in India, I discovered that outside in the streets there was chaos, mayhem and noise all the time. But inside the Indian people, there is peace, calm and tranquillity. I wanted that in my life. I wanted to let go of it all.
A year or two after I returned home, my sister in law was diagnosed with breast cancer and died soon after I moved back to Sydney, leaving behind her 8-year-old son. My beloved nephew. She was 47. This, along with my trip to India, had a major impact on my life. It made me see what was in important in this world. The meaning of my life and my priorities changed. My sister in laws death created a ripple effect. I quit my job and walked away from an industry that I no longer had a passion for. I no longer had a need for `things’. My journey eventually led me here to ACU.
Reading Eliot’s novel has reinforced to me what we should value in this life. The definition of Materialism is “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.” Having more things will not make us happier. Owning things becomes important when you have an internal void. That’s exactly what I used to do. Go shopping and buy things to make me happier. It didn’t work. You can be rich, but you can’t be wealthy unless your life philosophy and the internal world are healthy. You are not the things you own. Of course, it’s natural to want things and I still do. But I’ve realised that I don’t need much to lead a full and happy life. If I have a bad day, I stop and remind myself that my nephew no longer has his mother. My problems are insignificant. My goal is to be the best version of myself possible. Make connections. Enjoy the process of life. Most important of all- be there for my nephew. Show him the world. Encourage him to be whoever and whatever he wants to be. That he is loved. That he is more precious than gold.