Tag off

My mother wouldn’t remove the tags from items for quite a long time. She’d save our purchases — any new items — until some future, unidentified date. The practice bedeviled me.

The items, still packaged and stored on a too-high shelf, tempted us. At the time, I believed she believed this taught us the virtue of waiting. But in fact what it taught us was the value of stewardship.

Later on, I regarded these exercises as calisthenics for what was to come. Our ability to judge when to exercise restraint and good judgment is one of the only true virtues we have. Whether it’s deciding whether to abandon the responsibilities of ownership or take on new ones, to take the last xx or to take on a new one, ownership becomes stewardship, and it’s a responsibility that comes with a relationship with things, however transient.

See also:
Speaking of the nearly 1980s, insights on waiting.

The physical item decision, then, is almost inconsequential. Tags need to be taken off with abandon. But our ability, our generosity — with people, with ideas, — isn’t to be stored and saved for some future unidentified date. It should be used and shared until it’s threadbare, and then some. Take the tags off.