Owning things is just caching the world

small rodent scurrying from his home

In a computer, caches are everywhere. A cache helps speed things up by temporarily holding onto something you'd normally go out in the world to find.

For example, when you first visit a web page, your browser downloads all the images and text and fonts and colors that are on that page. But if the browser thinks that you might be coming back to that page soon, it caches some of those images, so that next time you go to the page, it doesn't have to re-download them. Instead, it can just pull them out of its cache, and save a lot of time.

If you really think about what it means to own something, you realize that it is the same thing. The world is full of abundance, food, drink, entertainment, means of transportation, etc, etc. If you wanted to, you could walk out your door, and find just about anything you needed. You could jump on a bus to Mexico, pick up a head of cauliflower, or find yourself some boots. Everything that we need is out there. As St. Paul said, "everything is yours".


Sometimes it takes a long time to "download" things from the world. Getting a ride to the grocery store is certainly doable, but it's a lot slower than having your own car, jumping in, and going.

So we own things. And computers cache web pages.

But here's where computers are smarter than we are. Computers recognize that there is an upper limit to how large a cache should be. If the cache gets too big, then eventually you get to the point where it takes just as long to retrieve something from your possessions as it would to get it from the outside world. So computers limit the size of their cache, to keep things light and flexible and fast. There's another factor at work too: the faster the network connection, the less cache you need. When computers ran on dial-up, caches needed to be large and bulky. But as computers have gained access to high-bandwidth networks, the sizes of effective caches have decreased.

The same is true with humans. When human beings were largely farmers and ranchers, you needed a certain number of tools in order to get by. You probably also needed some farm hands, a cook, a barn, animals, etc. Now that we have access to a much higher bandwidth society, we need to cache a lot less. Most of us don't have barns, or tools to make our own clothing, or farm animals. We live in the space we need, with the things we feel we need to entertain ourselves, and go out into the world for most of everything else.

Rich people often get left behind in this process. Stuck in the habits of farmers and ranchers and plantation owners, they spend their riches gathering and maintaining large caches of items they don't really need, and that end up slowing down their life.

Talk to a rich person - many of them will talk about the burden of all the stuff they have. The trick is that they don't have to have any of it, and they don't have to give up being rich. They can just reduce the size of their cache.

The same is true for you and me. Want to speed up your life? Want to defragment and streamline the way you work?

Reduce the size of your cache.

PS. This might be relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLBuNxRVJJo


This is so true, as we are figuring out with our plans to move from Washington to Alabama this summer, there is a ton of 'stuff' in our cache that we are purging. You might look up a movie director named Tom Shadyac. He directed movies like Ace ventura, and Liar Liar, and bruce almighty, but recently he gave up most of 'material' cache and his huge mansion as well. He is making a movie called 'I AM', sounds pretty interesting.