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The Tyranny of Property

luggage-insideI recently reread The Willow Cabin by Pamela Frankau and I walked around the rest of the day thinking with an English accent.

This is the last paragraph of The Willow Cabin (it holds no spoilers):

In such a moment of solitude as this, she could feel accompanied by every joyful adventure that she had known, every person who she had loved. She brought into the empty room the crowd, of whom she was made.

Beautiful!

The book was making me think about acquisitions. The two main women in the book talk about the “tyranny of property.” I am not like this — I like property for the most part.

Then later when I got online to do some writing, I (of course) tried to avoid work by scanning through my bookmarks and I started seeing the tyranny of my bookmarks.

I bookmark things out of greed; I love the acquisition. I have no time to ever look at 75% of them again. Instead I feel guilty every time I open my bookmarks file to find the one or two I use regularly but I can’t delete the rest. Tyranny indeed. When I get a new browser I rarely import the bookmarks. Then for a very brief time, I feel absolutely free of all those sites I mean to visit someday to read in earnest instead of just scan. But eventually it begins again. Someone sends me an article I want to read but don’t have time or the homeschool email list has a link to a nifty science site and there I am drowning in bookmarks again. It’s a terrible thing.

When the kids were small we used to have regular rounds of Twenty-Five Toss, which was when I’d take a cardboard box, place it in the middle of the hallway and tell them to find twenty-five things they wanted to throw away or donate. By the end of the day we’d have a box full of gum wrappers and outgrown socks and toys no longer needed. If we did this once a week through spring or summer we’d end the season with more space to think. Plus the kids like the alliteration.

Twenty-five is a reasonable number — big enough to make a dent but small enough that the kids won’t get overwhelmed. Plus a person can always cheat her way through it if she needs to and just throw away twenty-five magazine order cards and receipts and old envelopes instead of committing to an entire day digging through basement boxes.

So I think I’ll try this with my bookmarks over the course of the next week or so. And maybe if I get really ambitious, I’ll apply it to my iTunes library, which is about to take over my entire computer.

Now please do not bookmark or pin this article if it’s just going to end up tyrannizing you. Or do it and then make it the first of the twenty-five things you’re going to do away with to make your life more free and easy.