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When I was 9, I came home from school and told my parents that I wanted to play the violin – and I needed one by Friday.

I had no idea what a problem that was to dump in my parents’ lap – I didn’t know how much violins cost (neither did they) and I didn’t know how broke they were (it was just normal for me).

My parents never considered not getting me an instrument. They talked – apparently at length – about money, went to the local violin store, almost walked out again because it looked so fancy, and then when the owner approached them shyly explained that they couldn’t afford to rent and they had two hundred dollars, and they’d understand if he couldn’t help them.

Carl, lovely man that he is, said he’d make something work, and sold them a half-size violin for $200. I came home from school Thursday, my parents sent me to the garage to get something, and there on the workbench was my new violin.

But that’s not the important part of the story.

The important part of the story is that he told them they had to bring me and the violin back, the next week.

And I went back, and he taught me about how to take care of my instrument, and he taught me why I had to take care of it:

“This violin is not yours. It’s yours to take care of, for all the little girls who might play it later. This violin might live longer than you.”

And that is still how I think about instruments, and – more relevant to the broader world – it’s also how I think about land.

I own (well, the bank and I) my house, and the .18 acre it sits on. I ‘own’ it, but it is not mine to do with as I please; it’s mine to take care of. For the humans next door and the humans later, but also for the birds and the bees and the plants and the land itself. It’s not mine. It’s my responsibility.