Tuesday, May 27, 2014


"The things you own, end up owning you"

It has become a cliche now but, at the time, that line from 'Fight Club' was certified fresh. Ironically, I own the DVD.

Fifteen years ago the film first hit theaters. Yes, fifteen.

September 11 was still two years away. I was in my second last year of high school, with absolutely zero visibility on where I would be today. I didn't know where I would be in five years. Fifteen years away was as good as a thousand.

It wasn't as vital to have answers back then. Just questions. Questions about who you are, where you want to be, and what you want to do.

But, never what you want to own. It just wasn't important. Your precious brain cells were needed elsewhere.

Then age factors in. Everyone matures; accumulating their wordly possessions. Tokens of a life.

Personally, I never really got into that habit. I have knick-knacks, but everything I own could realistically fit into one medium sized room. That's the funny thing about pursuing a creative career. Until you have a major success, you have to stay mobile. Lean. You can have stuff, of course, but all within reason.

And it speaks to the world we live in that 'not having stuff' is often what baffles outsiders about this career path. They love the idea of "being creative". "Working on projects" seems ideal. Film festivals, awards nights and premieres are, of course, welcomed with gusto.

But not having stuff? That's troubling, apparently. The implication is that no stuff equals no roots. And, despite the credit crisis, along with all the demonstrated evils of debt, it is an attitude which still prevails. Like a nuclear cockroach, it endures.

It's the reason the line from Fight Club is still relevant.

"The things you own, end up owning you"

But how? How is this reversal of power even possible?

Well, as you make your early foray into the world, you acquire stuff. Mostly stuff you need.

Then you start to get more stuff. Stuff you don't actually need but you WANT.

Eventually, you need a place to put the stuff. So you buy a house.

Now, the house has a mortgage and has to be paid off. Meaning you have to work to pay the mortgage to keep the stuff that you didn't even need in the first place.

On top of that, you are worried that something will happen to the stuff. What if someone steals the stuff I didn't even need in the first place? Or what if my house burns down, destroying the stuff?

Now, when you go out, you are worried about something happening to the stuff. The welfare of your stuff haunts you.

So you get insurance, to protect the stuff.

You have to pay for the insurance. With money. That you earn from your job. Which you got to pay for the house holding the stuff you didn't even need in the first place.

Eventually, you may realise that your life choices around work, finances and freedom are actually being dictated to you by the stuff.

Or, you don't.

But at least you get to come home to your house everyday.

And look at your stuff.


Or perhaps, as we move to an increasingly online world, Tyler Durdan was onto something?

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