We have too many. They weigh us down. They burden us with their incessant demands. For every significant possession there’s the preliminary research, the purchase, the owner’s manual or comparable instructions, the learning curve and, finally, the inevitable paraphernalia surrounding the purchase.
Every technology we dote on, every device we rely on, every sport we pursue, every diversion and significant event we plan for, every pet we adopt, every life cycle we anticipate comes with its inherent complexities to ‘own’ and master.
I got a ‘point and shoot’ digital camera recently. Simplicity itself, one would think. But it comes with a price tag beyond the dollar value. The camera is small and powerful but it has tentacles that connect to a battery charger, an adapter, and USB and audio-video cables. I must learn its ways, understand its minuscule icons and settings, install its Software Suite, learn its downloading secrets, and study its user’s manual — nearly 150 pages of dense type.
Why do we have to be experts in everything? The simplicity of ownership has been replaced by the tyranny of required expertise. We don’t possess these lifestyle ‘necessities’ and enhancements. They possess us. And the more complex our lives become the more difficult it is to focus on whatever it is that’s truly important to us. Everything draws us out to the periphery rather than in towards the center.
We brand ourselves with our possessions. Our possessions define us and make us who we are. We don’t tread lightly as we pass through the world. Ownership is heavy, ponderous, and exhausting.
“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.” So says Henry David Thoreau in Walden. Amen to that.