The Case for Attachment

The bean fields are beginning to take on brown highlights near Westminster this week. With cooler temperatures, autumn is approaching. Two memes circulate on social media this time of year. The first, often words over an image of fall foliage, “The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let go.” The second, shared by my friend Hannah, is “Practice non-attachment.  Accept what comes and allow it to leave when it’s time. What’s for you will be for you effortlessly.”

The topic of attachment evolved in a lunch conversation last week with two graduate candidates from the Human Service Management master’s program Target offers in partnership with McDaniel College. We discussed our perspective on how attachment has impacted our lives, working too hard for things not meant for us. Not taking the time and space within our efforts to ask whether what we are working towards is good for us. Reflecting on these memes and this conversation, I wonder how attachment relates to service to others.

Years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about duality in acts of service. If we are to engage in acts of service, we depend entirely on one who requires what we have to offer. If one is to work on community hunger, deliver soup kitchen meals, or meet the needs of the unhoused, someone without food or home is necessary.

As we think about attachment and how our efforts contribute to or hinder an unattached life, perhaps the decision rule comes in whether we are working for something that is for us or something that is for the other.

I hope the efforts that benefit us personally are free from attachments. On the other hand, I hope our work for others is full of attachment to a life lived with presence for those we serve.  A presence in which we will go to the ends of the earth to benefit another, as those ‘other’ are the people we serve at Target. As a human services agency, the friends we serve are brothers, sisters, and children who exist as full members of society. In many cases, they need our help to realize the full benefit of humanity. A life of attachment to provide that help is well-lived.