Most of us think that we own our material possessions, but the reality is: Our stuff owns us!
A friend recently told me that she and her husband were putting their house up for sale. It seemed a surprise to me as they had only lived there for 2 years. When I asked why, Laura’s response was, “I’m being held hostage by my house. It’s lovely and big, with more than enough space for the kids and Marc and I, but we spend far too much time with the upkeep: cleaning and maintaining it!”
Sadly in this age of “gotta have it!” and “bigger is better!”, we are acquiring more stuff at an alarming rate. Think about the impact these things have on us… we have more gadgets to keep track of, more manuals and technology to learn, we pay for storage space beyond our homes to store what we can’t bear to give away, and we spend a significant portion of our time maintaining what we have. How much of your “free time”, or hard-earned dollars, do you spend backing up your laptop or smartphone, cutting the grass, fixing up the cottage, getting an oil change, stopping at the dry cleaners, re-furnishing, painting, accessorizing, and renovating?
And old friend wrote me this note in an email conversation a few weeks ago and he sums it up nicely…
“Unfortunately we get wise way too late in life. I have finally realized at age 64 (albeit way too late) that the assets we possess actually own us – they possess us, not the other way around. From the moment we own any particular asset, whether it be a house, a car, a cottage, a boat (large or small), even a simply bicycle, we then spend all our waking time and money hiring people to fix our “stuff”; we pump endless fuel into our “stuff” (boats; cars; houses; cottages; etc.). We get in our car to drive to our boat or our cottage which in turn inhales more gas, our time, wear and tear on our bodies and stress among those we love.
I am at a stage in my life where I have just donated (with a modest payment “sometime” in the future!!) my large boat to my sister. I literally have zero interest in ever seeing it, I couldn’t be bothered to drive down at all this summer to even look at it. I am at a point where I am seriously considering boarding up my place on Kasshabog Lake (I have had it for sale for a month or so and not one interested person). Every time I go there something else breaks or ceases to function and I spend days and days chasing people to get things fixed and nobody wants or is interested in getting work. My Mercedes is so complicated I hate to take it out anywhere and I crave the old Model T Ford with a gas pedal and a small engine and one gear. I think the world has hit a point where everything is so complicated, we are in a “throw-away” society and we cannot get anything fixed anymore and everything we own or anything we do required pulling up to a gas pump and $100 later…”