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Possessions

  • We possess nothing in the world — a mere chance can strip us of everything — except the power to say 'I.'

  • Nothing is mine, I have only nothing but it is enough, it is beautiful and it is all mine. Do I even walk about in my own skin or is it something I have borrowed to spare my modesty?

  • There is, of course, a difference between what one seizes and what one really possesses.

  • He wove a veritable spider web about himself. No man was ever more completely installed in the realm of possessions. ... He had prepared a fortress against need, war and change.

  • There are only two kinds of freedom in the world: the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk who renounce possessions.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1940, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 3 ()
  • Meanness inherits a set of silverware and keeps it in the bank. Economy uses it only on important occasions, for fear of loss. Thrift sets the table with it every night for pure pleasure, but counts the butter spreaders before they are put away.

  • We heap up around us things that we do not need as the crow makes piles of glittering pebbles.

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1917, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • Nine-tenths of human law is about possession.

  • Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens.

  • Anything that you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions. We are not free.

  • ... we were raising our standard of living at the expense of our standard of character.

  • The things that are ours cannot be given away, or taken away, or lost. We break our hearts, all of us, trying to keep things that do not belong to us — and to which we have no right.

  • We go on multiplying our conveniences only to multiply our cares. We increase our possessions only to the enlargement of our anxieties.

  • All things that a man owns hold him far more than he holds them.

  • She holds on to what she's got like paper to the wall ...

  • ... the things people discard tell more about them than the things they keep.

  • ... I'd always prided myself on not getting too attached to things. Material possssions could always be replaced. Unlike the really important things in life — like time, loved ones, or slim thighs.

  • I could never be lonely without a husband, but without my trinkets, my golden gods, I could find abysmal gloom.

    • Lillian Russell,
    • title essay (1914), in Djuna Barnes, I Could Never Be Lonely Without a Husband ()
  • Dependence upon material possessions inevitably results in the destruction of human character.

  • Everything we own tells too much about us.

  • Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have.

  • Nothing is our own: we hold our pleasures / Just a little while, ere they are fled: / One by one life robs us of our treasures: / Nothing is our own except our Dead.

  • From the respect paid to property flow, as from a poisoned fountain, most of the evils and vices which render this world such a dreary scene to the contemplative mind.

  • There is something that governments care far more for than human life, and that is the security of property ...

  • It is a curious fact that personal possessions take on fictitious values and exceptional charms when the owner, no matter how generous, is faced with giving them away or even selling them (which usually amounts to the same thing).

  • The idea that money brings power and independence is an illusion. What money usually brings is the need for more money — and there is a shabby and pathetic powerlessness that comes with that need. The inability to risk new lives, new work, new styles of thought and experience, is more often than not tied to the bourgeois fear of reducing one's material standard of living. That is, indeed, to be owned by possessions, to be governed by a sense of property rather than by a sense of self.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "The Price of Paying Your Own Way," Essays in Feminism ()
  • People who know their worth can live austerely; it's the people nagged by the gnawing knowledge of their own cheapness who have that eternal necessity for submerging themselves in what they feel is superlative in material things, as if fine possessions could make them fine.

  • She could never forget her dependence on these possessions; even in these circumstances she looked from them to us, as if she felt they must awe us, must make us feel we couldn't dare affront the owner of such costliness. Yet when we showed no evidence of being impressed ... she felt we must only be hiding our awe.

  • We are born into this world with clenched fists, we leave it with fingers apart-- preaching the lesson that you take nothing with you.

  • ... it is far better to appreciate and not to possess, than to possess and not to appreciate.

  • The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.