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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.


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.


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  1. I know just what you mean about the bookmarks. When we switched to Mozilla I felt so free without all my old bookmarks (especially the recipes and knitting patterns) and then my husband did me the misguided favor of importing them a few days later.

    I know if I had Tivo I’d do the same thing–Tivoing shows just to “have” them and never getting around to watching them.

  2. Not only am I also a comma whore (although, I’ve always called myself a comma slut), but I also hoard things — especially bookmarks! — that I mean to use, but never do.

  3. Ok, so can you teach me about commas? I have diarrhea of the comma. I just can’t seem to get it.

  4. My bookmarks are exactly the same…. I’ve been thinking I should delete them, but….

    (And I’m way more into the “….” than the comma. It is a sickness, all the same.) ;)

  5. i probably need to do more commas, and semi colons and periods! but i don’t care what others say/think – that comes with old age ;-)

    i love your authors series!
    (my dh answers for the worlds f/ups – not a particular character…poor guy!)

    i recently deleted ALL bookmarks. I have been the same way – greedily wanting to save everything to partake in later/more deeply.

  6. I’ve been trying to struggle through Henry James’ “The wings of the dove” recently, and the man is completely enamored of commas! there are so many clauses in each sentence that I lose track of what the F is being said and have to go back and try and pick out the main thread, buried in all the explanations and qualifications! I don’t think I can finish the book!

  7. Hi, Dawn! I was dropping in to read your fabulous blog when I tried to add it to my feed reader. This is the second day in a row I’ve tried to add your blog to my reader but there seems to be a problem. Thinking it might be at your end rather than mine because I’m not having difficulty adding other sites to my reader – just yours. Thought you might want to have someone check it out. I can “see” that you have a feed but can’t get it to add to my own reader:(

    Love this post. I, too, love the acquisition of bookmarks. And, although I know I won’t get back to all of them, I love knowing that I have this easy-to-access library right at my fingertips! The tyranny of bookmarks! YES! I LOVE THAT!

    • Argh! Thanks for letting me know. Can you try this and see if it works? http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThisWomansWork Meanwhile I’m going to see if my feedburner plugin is working of it’s something to do with my theme.

      • Nope. It’s doesn’t but I hope you’ll drop back in to my blog to let me know when it gets fixed. I look forward to following you!


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