Collecting: An Essay

My previous post got me thinking about the items that I collect and why I enjoy collecting them, and so I write the following ~

Some of my collection.

As human beings, we have a natural desire to collect: as prehistoric man we collected food, on vacation we collect shells at the beach, and over our lifetime we amass trinkets and souvenirs from the places we visit.  We keep our old yearbooks, scrapbooks, photo albums, and toys from our childhood.

Some of us collect decorative objects: bottles, plates, stamps, pressed flowers, and figurines.  Others collect useful objects, like: glassware, china, shot glasses, and quilts.  Still others collect items that evoke a memory, such as: baseball cards, post cards, and wine corks.

I myself collect a few items: unique place card holders, salt and pepper shakers, and stationery.  In general, I think collecting can be a wonderful thing to do — if it enriches your life.

For my own personal collecting, I try to only save items that are meaningful and useful to me.  This is a personal choice, because I have an aversion to clutter.  I try to use the items in my collections at least once a year.

However, I do support collecting objects for their beauty, as long as they are displayed.

This brings me to a few helpful rules I use when collecting:

If you are keeping objects around your home, you are doing so because they are meaningful to you.  If your collections truly mean something to you, you will clear an area in your home where they can be properly displayed and appreciated by you, your household, and all who enter your home.  No one can appreciate your collection of [objects you enjoy here] if it is collecting dust in the attic!

If you find that you no longer use or enjoy a collection of items, donate or gift them to someone who will.  Our interests change as we move through life, and items we held dear a few years ago may not have the same luster to us now.  If a collection is meaningful to you, but you find that you no longer use or want it, give it to a family member who will appreciate it, or donate it to charity.  Sharing your passion with others can be very rewarding.

There is nothing wrong with collecting items to give away.  One of the things I collect is stationery.  But the very nature of this collection means that I am always giving some of it away to others, which gives me joy.  I like to collect beautiful cards and papers that I think friends and family will be happy to receive.

Don’t go overboard.  This rule is pretty self-explanatory, but if you collect just for the sake of collecting, it diminishes the personal meaning of the items you retain.

Finally, I try to inventory items around my home once or twice a year to see if I have outgrown anything.  Then I donate the unused items to others.  This way, I keep only the collectibles that are dearest to me, and if I find something new on a shopping trip – I already have the room for it!

Happy Collecting!