What You Own vs. What Owns You

For years, I’ve said (mostly to myself), “Whatever you own, also owns you.” This morning I woke up curious where I got that expression from? Did I adopt it from someone? And, if so, who? I can’t recall.

Whatever You Own, Also Owns You
So, if you have ever heard the expression, or you also know the source of it, then please tell me what you know! I’d very much like to solve the mystery.

Everything I Own, Owns Me
Some days, I don't enjoy being in my own house. I walk in the door, and instead of seeing a haven, I see projects: dishes, laundry, mail to sort, walls I was going to paint, carpet I was going to have cleaned, broken things I'd meant to fix. Everywhere I look, there's some thing that needs to be done.

My "stuff" makes claims on me daily. And my stuff, and your stuff, is in danger of destroying the world as we know it. Does that sound melodramatic? Follow me after the jump for a view of the real impact "stuff" has on us--both personally and globally.

Consumerism affects every aspect of our lives, from how happy we are on a day to day basis to how long we will be able to sustain our environment and our planet.

We all complain about clutter. Whole new TV shows have sprung up to help people de-clutter their homes and lives, while we watch in both horror at how badly some folks have let their stuff pile up and in recognition of easily that could be us. George Carlin even has a famous comedy routine about "stuff":

That's all your house is-a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time. A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it, and when you leave your house, you've got to lock it up. You wouldn't want to somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. That's what your house is-a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. Sometimes you've got to move-got to get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore." George Carlin, A Place for My Stuff 1981 George Carlin "Place For My Stuff".

The truth is, everything we buy has an impact that is both global and personal. Look around you right now. Find some random object. Pick it up. For me right now, it's a silly plastic toy watch one of my kids got from a children's meal at Sbarro in the mall's food court. It says "Made in China." I wonder how many hands in some Chinese factory touched this thing, how much raw material went into its production, and how much fuel was expended to get it to our Raleigh store. Now that's it here in my house, and my child has so helpfully abandoned it next to the computer, this watch, this thing is creating a claim on me: I must use it, store it, or trash it.

Possession: What You Own vs. What Owns You