Letting Go of Collections to Make Room for What Matters
Don’t hate me, but I can’t stand collections. Multiple pieces of the same item lined on a shelf, like dusty soldiers waiting to attack, give me the heebie-jeebies. I hate clutter, in both my house, and in my mind.
I blame this hatred of collections on all the collectors I’ve known in my life.
My mom was a collector, albeit not an extreme one. Still, she owned thimbles, vases, cups and saucers, and tiny spoons from each state she visited.
My dad was a collector, too. In fact, his collections multiplied like evil bunnies. If there was anything to collect, my dad found it. He collected keys, half-used paper, little nibs of crayons, and even old Pringles containers.
My dad’s brother was a collector, and so was his wife. Together, their home was piled with toys, books, stuffed animals, those weird little ceramics found at card stores and tucked in the back of thrift stores, brass elephants, and old papers and magazines they piled high in their living room, hoping to one day read. Their house, quite literally, was a hoarder’s house.
My husband was a collector, for a while. Though if you asked me what he collected, I couldn’t tell you. It seems anything, and everything, made its way into our garage, shop, and outdoor shed. Maybe he wasn’t a collector, as much as he was a non-tosser. (Thankfully, he’s changed.)
I once knew a woman who collected Beanie Babies. (Remember those?) She was obsessed, as many collectors are. She’d call every store in town until she found the Beanie Baby she thought she needed. During work one day, she spent an hour on the phone, then took off in the early morning for another hour to pick up said Beanie Baby. If the boss would have known, she would have lost her job. I wonder if it would have been worth it.
I look around my own home, which some might consider bare, and am thankful for all the collectors in my life. My home is simple and neat, and quite easy to clean. Just the way I like it.
But it makes me wonder, why do people collect? What is that makes them fill empty spaces in their homes with needless items?
For some, collecting fills a void, like mindless shopping. An emptiness that won’t go away. A hole somewhere in the heart.
For others, it is boredom. Without knowing how to spend their time, they spend it shopping, collecting that which isn’t needed.
For many, it is a demonstration, to the world, and to themselves, that they are rich.
Most of us collect something, knick-knacks, dishes, shoes, clothing. I’ve even known people who have collected cars.
I have had my own set of collections in the past, like old Christmas ornaments, cookbooks, and I still own plenty of novels. Craft items once filled an entire room, paints, clay, beads, and leather goods. Hobbies once provided hours of joy, and perhaps then, they were collections that were worth my time and money. But one day, it was taken away, and I could no longer do that which I loved. That part of my life was gone, and all my collections were given away, something I never regret.
Because it seems, when I let go of collections, when I stopped buying and spending time on needless activities, I found something greater. I found Moments.
Moments walking, meditating, practicing yoga, and reading. I found moments with my husband, and my family. Moments I will never forget. Moments that matter.
I can’t say collections are always bad. They can preserve memories, or provide a way for us to escape after a long day of work. Collections, for some, are dreams in the making. And if collections truly make us happy, perhaps we should keep them.
But often, collections gather dust and dirt, sit tirelessly on an old shelf in the corner, and take away time and space from what really matters.
I wonder if it’s time to let go of too many collections, to reduce our lives to the important stuff. I wonder if it’s time to stop collecting needless things, and start collecting moments.