On Stuff

“The intelligent man, when he dies, leaves no possessions. If he has collected worthless objects, it is embarrassing to have them all discovered. If the objects are of good quality, they will depress his heirs at the thought of how attached he must have been to them. It is all the more deplorable if the possessions are ornate and numerous. If a man leaves possessions, there are sure to be people who will quarrel disgracefully over them, crying, ‘I’m getting that one!’ If you wish something to go to someone after you are dead, you should give it to him while you are still alive. Some things are probably indispensable to daily life, but as for the rest, it is best not to own anything at all.”

— No. 140, from Essays in Idleness (circa 1330) by Kenko; translated by Donald Keene

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