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  • Jamie McCarthy

Making Things Into ‘A Thing’.

17th September 2015.


I’ve been thinking lately about how I get kind of disappointed when things become ‘a thing’. For example, where I live mindfulness is ‘a thing’ right now: mindfulness training, courses, books, youtube stuff etc. etc. I like doing what mindfulness stuff suggests, but I’m not so keen on putting it in a box labelled ‘mindfulness’. I prefer ‘noticing’, ‘being aware’, ‘being receptive’, but if any of those things became ‘a thing’ I’m sure I’d go off that as well.

What’s going on for me here? There are things … endless things … stuff … existence … it’s all ever-changing, mutable … transforming all the time – things are things – become things. Sometimes things are small, sometimes they’re big – things change from one thing to another. As soon as we change things from mutable, changeable things into ‘a thing’ I lose interest. ‘A thing’ for me, has a lot of mental thought and structuring to it – whereas things are just things – elusive, changeable – sometimes so slight as to be barely there. For me, once something becomes ‘a thing’ – or perhaps ‘a method’ or ‘a statement’, ‘a work of art’ – some of the glow of it has already disappeared.


A method becomes ‘how you do things’ – defined by someone else – someone who isn’t in the moment I am in right now.

A statement becomes ‘how things are’ – rather than simple ‘what this is right now’.

A work of art already distances me from the mundane beauty of things.

I also enjoy methods and statements and works of art – it’s just that for me they’re limited - just glimpses of what someone else has experienced / is experiencing of things. The real pleasure, for me, is in being with things myself.

I get the feeling that when things become ‘ a thing’ it’s more about showing how well our minds work – how we can spin things out into an ownable (and sellable) ‘thing’ rather than being with the things themselves.

Sometimes the joy of things is that they’re so slight, so small, so insignificant, so devoid of point or meaning – then our minds come blundering in and try to pin it all down … formulate – method-ise – what was a beautiful little insignificant thing, becomes a meagre ‘thing’.

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