The Burden of Ownership

Having a lot of stuff can be a great weight. I certainly feel it – in particular with vehicles. Due to various factors I won’t go in to now, I currently own two motor vehicles, and have a work car as well. I also maintain my wife’s car and the farm ute. It’s a lot of cars, a lot of complexity to manage. I don’t have to keep it in mind of course, but that’s just how it tends to turn out. When does this car need a service? When is that one due? Does the Land Cruiser need tyres (at >$300 a corner) etc and so on. It’s the same with all the other crap we have, but cars are unique – they cost money, they depreciate at a frightening rate and they’re worth less in one piece than they are when in parts.

I was thinking about this today while my brain was resting from normal toil and realised it’s one of my top stressors. In fact, the greater the number of complicated items one owns tends to generate more stress than having simple things. A shovel for example is not a stressful thing to have, and indeed I have many – post hole shovels, regular shovels, spades (which aren’t shovels but are categorically close enough) and these cause me no stress at all. I have many (but less than a month ago) computers and these cause me quite a bit of stress – backing them up, maintaining the OS and drivers etc.

On the trips I’ve made to the desert in the past something always stands out to me – there is one big complex bit of machinery (the car) that I have to care about. Cameras, phones etc none of these are as closely linked to ongoing health as the vehicle is. If it fails, then the stress goes through the roof. Getting back to that simplicity is something I yearn for. Do I really need multiple vehicles? Kinda I guess but it’s not cool. I’d much rather have one that is good for everything and then care about that. It would save a fortune too – there is a lot of money going into maintenance, parts, rego and insurance on the multitude of vehicles I have. It’s worth considering in this material rich world what the cost of all that stuff is – it’s not just monetary but an attention cost. We all have a limited amount of attention and I know well how precious it is.

Finding a balance between utility and ability to manage these burdens is the key. I struggle with this mightily and I know many others do too. Having fewer things is great, but I still need to get stuff done – and some of these activities require a certain bit of gear to get it finished. It’s something I continue to work on strive towards better managing.

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