Most people, if they are fortunate enough to have a few coins to rub together, accumulate a lot of stuff in their lifetimes. Some accumulate more stuff than most. Others are obsessed with accumulating mountains of stuff of every kind imaginable. If you’ve ever watched American Pickers you know exactly what I mean.
There are three known drawbacks to collecting irresistible stuff that you find so fascinating that you absolutely must have it under your own roof so you may gaze on it lovingly and dust it occasionally.
Drawback Number One: You will eventually run out of space to house your collection of stuff and be forced to move to a larger dwelling. [That actually happened to a neighbor of mine.]
Drawback Number Two: Your spouse or significant other will eventually threaten to leave you if you don’t get rid of the cluttered mess of stuff you call a collection. [Same neighbor.]
Drawback Number Three: The inevitable. You didn’t think far enough ahead to the day you die and leave that collection of stuff behind forcing someone else to deal with it. You fail to take into consideration that you might be the only one in your family who finds your stuff fascinating and irresistible. The family member who is stuck finding a home for your collection of stuff will not think kindly of you and may even bury you with it. [That neighbor is still alive, but this may possibly happen to him eventually.]
Seriously, the reason collecting too much stuff is on my mind this week is that I recently encountered a personal situation where huge collections of stuff were involved. Our family paid a visit to Macho Guy’s clan west of the Mighty Mississippi. Earlier in the year, a beloved family member had passed away. The rest of MG’s family was involved in settling her estate. Prior to the estate sale, we were all encouraged to select mementos from her many collections.
We walked through her condo encountering room after room with stacks of items from her home furnishings and her collections on display. Furniture, large and small decorative items, China, small appliances, artificial floral arrangements she created, Christmas decorations, costume jewelry, artwork, craft supplies, family photo albums, books, movie DVDs and music CDs, and more filled each room. We each chose a few items but hundreds remained. That walkthrough made me think of my sons and of my own bulky collections.
I’m a book slut. I never met a book I could say no to. There are books–romance, mystery, western, and science fiction novels, classics, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books–stacked double deep on the book shelves in my office. Those will be donated to the local library one day, although the autographed editions will no doubt be sold.
Unfortunately, neither of my sons has any interest in my Star Trek collection of movies, videotaped TV episodes, novels, magazines, Christmas ornaments, a collectable plate, a poster of The Enterprise, a pen and ink poster of Kirk and Spock, a cute littleTribble, and William Shatner’s autograph. Neither do they want my science fiction artwork collection. I have been urged to sell the lot on eBay as soon as possible so they won’t have to deal with it at some future date when I lift off for that Star Base in the Cosmos.
I cringed at the thought of how much time selling the collection would take away from my writing. I mentioned this to one of MG’s nephews who is also a writer and a Star Trek fan. He expressed interest, so the Mafia Princess made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. If he would sell my Star Trek collection for me–with three important exceptions–he could keep the money he got for it. The three important exceptions I made were: the pen and ink poster of Kirk and Spock, the cute little Tribble, and William Shatner’s autograph.
I refused to part with those three items while I’m still earthbound. I saw no need to go completely overboard. Surely dramatically downsizing the collection is more than sufficient and should ease my sons’ concerns. Wouldn’t you agree?