a little something extra

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sabbath 29

Someday, perhaps, I will renew my interest in blogging about something other than this book. For now, though, you get another chapter.

This one is short and wonderfully coherent. It's called "Ownership," and it addresses the often invisible trade-off between the time and energy it takes to own things, and the other uses to which we could put that time and energy. In some ways this chapter hooks up to some of the principles enumerated in Your Money or Your Life, a book I have not read, by Joe Dominguez.

How do I know that the chapter and the other book coincide, if I haven't read the other book? Well, about three years ago, it seemed like every time I turned around somebody mentioned Your Money or Your Life to me. Through those discussions, I picked up the basic gist.

Our time and energy is finite. The quantities may be vast, but eventually they do reach an end. Dominguez's book focuses on finding the best balance between time/energy spent pursuing money and time/energy spent pursuing anything else. Everything else.

Reflecting on the chapter, I began to think that I own a fair amount of stuff. I own a car, I own furniture, I own books and works of art. I own kitchen equipment and clothing and shoes. I own linens. I own cleaning products, I own this laptop, and I own a seemingly endless supply of empty envelopes waiting to have their backs decorated with grocery lists and to-do reminders. I own electric candles to put in my windows at Christmastime (one fewer candle than I have windows, since I broke one candle taking it down last year).

But, especially since moving to CA, I don't acquire much new stuff. I borrow books from the library, and return them. I take care of my clothes so I don't have to spend money on new ones. I don't buy CDs; I don't even buy songs online to download (in my opinion, maintaining one's virtual possessions such as a library of downloaded sound files can toss one right into the same time/energy-drain trap that maintaining one's physical possessions does).

And I don't give much of my time/energy to those who want to sell me things. I've passed the one-year mark of my No Broadcast TV Experiment, so for the past year I haven't let TV advertisers use my time/energy. I skip the ads in the newspaper, though I read the articles. Periodically I will flip through a print catalogue, but 7/8 of them go straight from the mailbox to the recycling bag without passing Go or collecting $200.

This leaves me time/energy to do things like read those books I borrow from the library, enjoy the music on those CDs I do own or new music I hear on the radio, crochet afghans for friends and family (requires acquiring yarn, but I don't keep it, so I think it falls on the safe side of the Ownership Risk), talk on the phone, and otherwise try to keep myself in touch with the world as I know it and care about it.

This is the upside of a relative lack of wealth. Much of what net worth I have is tied up in the house I own but don't get to live in and can't sell any time soon, and in the retirement accounts I feed without ceasing and otherwise pretty well ignore. I spend relatively little time/energy taking care of my small stock of money, and much more time/energy doing things that don't require me to touch that small stock. I spend more time/energy maintaining what I own, so that I won't have to replace it any time soon.

Could I own more? Sure. But I don't need more right now, and I enjoy not feeling owned by what I own. (In Netspeak, that would be "pwned by what i pwn," but I'm just not that hip.)

Tripp posted on this chapter already
; apparently, he came back from New Orleans ready to throw himself back into the Sabbath reading project.

Cristopher seems still to be distracted by Texas football season, but I am hoping his missing copy of the book will come out of its hiding place soon.


At 5:02 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...


This is a great post. Thanks. It's all about simplicity...and striking that balance. What else do you know about the other book. Somehow I missed it. I'll have to go to my library...and get a card.

At 9:56 AM , Blogger meeegan said...

Since I haven't read "Your Money or Your Life," I don't really know anything else about it. Get thee to the library by the end of this week, eh?

At 3:20 PM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

I need to get a library card. You know, I've never had one...except for school.

At 9:17 PM , Blogger meeegan said...

I have one. C'mon, all the cool kids are doing it...


At 8:53 PM , Blogger Benjamin said...

I have one! Does that make me a cool kid?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home