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  • "I sometimes wonder about possessions," he said; "it feels like the more things we own, the more they seem to own us."

    I knew what he meant. I couldn't agree more. I couldn't wait to leave my house and all my belongings behind and make a fresh start somewhere else, far away from the enormous amount of stuff that had piled up over the years. I had felt uneasy for so long, enslaved by consumption mentality, captive of my own possessions. Yes, I knew exactly what he meant.


    I was getting ready to leave, taking one last, thoughtful look at the two huge suitcases of clothes (for all aspects of Scottish weather, just in case), the three large book-cases (for all aspects of learning and curiosity, just in case), the bottles of French wine (just in case), and I thought about what he had said.

    I had his words in mind when I loaded my car with possessions, belongings, necessities, and when I (with difficulty) forced the last suitcase into the trunk of my car. As I drove away from Norway, through Sweden, across Denmark, his words faded a bit, but they reappeared in my mind while the ferry slowly chugged its way across the North Sea in the long, dark night. When I re-entered the heavily loaded car to drive ashore in England I tried to focus on other things, like keeping to the left side of the road, but I had an inkling that his words would inevitably come to mind again when I had to haul all my possessions up the 80 steps to my new home on the fourth floor.


    Close to the Scottish border I took a brief detour. There was a place I wanted to see, but the high tide kept me from setting foot on the Holy Island, Lindisfarne, the site of the first (recorded) major Viking attack on England in 793. I stood in the middle of the road, watching as it vanished quickly beneath the rising tide. I thought about time. I thought about impermanence. I thought about leaving my car and all my belongings and hitch-hike the rest of the way. I thought about freeing myself, truly, completely - or at least as much as possible.

    But I couldn't bring myself to leave my books (too much invaluable information yet to be discovered). Nor could I imagine being without my favourite dresses and shoes, not to mention the blankets, shawls and woolen sweaters, or my beloved coffee-mugs (yes, I had brought a suitcase of crockery as well...) And my car, the vessel in which I had imagined myself traveling across the Highlands and zig-zaging along the ragged coastline to discover every tiny gem of quaint fishing-villages - no, I couldn't possibly give up my car.


    I made one more stop, unintentionally. Passing a second-hand store I slowed down, habitually. Just in case.

    And there it was, standing by the entrance, patiently waiting for a new owner. It was the colour that caught my eye; green, the hue of glacial water, bathed in unexpected sunlight. It was old and worn, the woodwork was dark and the canvas was stained, still it was obvious that this chair had been cared for and handled with affection through generations. Since World War I, the shopkeeper assured me. I couldn't leave without it.


    I sometimes wonder about possessions. What does my choice of belongings say about me? What is this magic that certain things hold that makes me fall in love with a handmade mug, or an old chair, or a second-hand teapot? Perhaps I hope that someday, someone will stumble across something I have owned and cared for, something I have watched, held, caressed and contemplated in silent awe through years of use. Perhaps I hope that someone else will carry on the unspoken story.

    I sometimes wonder.
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