To own or not to own

Too much property is a burden and takes up space. If there is no use for it, why keep it?

In America, it is quite normal to sell a house, including everything else in it, and buy new things in a new place. In my country, this is not usual. People keep old useless things, just in case they are needed in future. But the need rarely arises. So they only 'have' the things. They have them - and there it ends. I hope to be different, so I tried recently to minimise the number of things I own.

'Own' in fact nobody can own anything, for we are born empty-handed and we also die empty-handed. During our lifetime, we are just given things to use for a while, but finally the loan is paid back and the accumulated things remain deserted, in a better case scenario, to be used by others, family members or just anonymous strangers, in a worse case, to rot in a dump...  Any property that we 'borrow' during our lifetime will not help us in the final hour (or second) and we will have to leave it behind on Earth and continue on alone, again. And, a man may also lose everything even before his/her death, it might be destroyed or stolen... So, it seems that it is better to invest in yourself, because nobody can ever take away your experience or knowledge.

Anyway, while we are alive, certain rights of usage of things exist and these rights are valid. Do not get me wrong, I think it is good to 'own' something, but the items should be useful, make life more comfortable (house, furniture, clothes), enjoyable (books, pictures, television, magazines) and secure (valuables, money). But the property must not bind the owner, things must serve, bring information, joy and freedom, not be the the root of fear and problems.

So I decided first of all to go through the papers I own. I had already liquidated papers from school that I was not going to need again. But I still had more papers... During the past, I had accumulated many magazines, interesting newspaper articles, etc. These were stored in many boxes, lying idle everywhere. I finally realised that there were too many of them. All were interesting, of course, but because there was such a huge quantity, there was no use for them. In the case of wanting to find some interesting information, I just did not know where to start searching.  I wanted to choose the most important articles and throw the rest away. Better to have less and use all of it, than the chaos of many things that only take up space. It took some time to go through all the magazines and newspapers. The result was several boxes of articles (only!). I sold the extra magazines and newspapers as scrap paper (it was more than 300 kg). Now I know what information I have and where I have it. Maybe, after some time, I will repeat the process to be left with, hopefully, only a small envelope with "the best of the best". (And after I memorise it, even that might be discarded. Which never happens, because there is always an ever increasing quantity of new bits of information coming in.)

I also went through my library. There were books I regretted buying. Others that I had read but was not going to read again and certainly would not recommend anyone else reading. I tried to carry out a selection process and keep only the books I would use, either I personally or other family members. Finally, I gave away about 400 books (some of them free of charge), both Czech and English, to second-hand bookshops. I also gave some to friends, who would enjoy them. You should see the difference, the new space! However, there are still many books remaining on the shelves, numbering between 1000 1500. I have never counted them: even if I do not add any new books, I still have enough reading matter for the rest of my life. For example, I kept 250 English books, because I need to practise this language, so I have no fear of ever being short of English books in the future.
(I suppose I will do another selection after some time.)

Obviously, the conclusion for today is: GET RID OF USELESS PROPERTY. 
Keep only what you are going to use and what is worth keeping.

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Copyright 2000 Viktor Horak. All rights reserved.