The curse of the Collection

My ex-husband had quite a TShirt collection. Every festival, every concert, many towns we traveled through on our motorcycle road trips, bars, wine, BEER, you name it, he had a t-shirt for it.

 At one point he had something like 73 TShirts. Some old enough to be classified only as rags- they’d gone way past the ‘vintage’ valuation. Some might have had actual value one day. Like his 50th Sturgis TShirt he traded to a Kings Crew member for a bottle of cheap white wine. But most were just run-of-the-mill, fast fading, peeling-letters TShirts.

 It was a source of fairly frequent discussion in our house. Particularly because his method of finding the one to wear today meant emptying the drawers on the bed and fishing for the ‘one’. He had a real problem finishing anything, so it would fall to me, invariably, to put them back in the drawers. 

 It was clear that he mostly wore the latest purchases. Like the last five or so. And he’d wear them to death. We seldom did motorcycle trips in the winter, so his purchasing options were fairly limited to six months or so, thankfully. But if one got holes from battery acid, or ripped for any reason, or bleached by mistake (ooops) they didn’t get tossed, they stayed in the drawers.

 My brother-in-law collected baseball hats. I have no idea how many he had. A LOT.

 I collected miniature shoes. Loved those little shoes.

 A friend collects hats.

 I’ve seen ‘Beanie Baby’ collections of several HUNDRED for sale on EBay.

 And who hasn’t been confronted with the thimble collection, the depression glass collection, the chopstick collection, the match-book collection, ad naeuseum, while trying to pack or sort, or maybe even declutter?

 Best one to date? A lady posted on a Facebook group a picture of a fairly substantial collection of gum wrappers she’d been saving to make a chain. Remember those things we made by folding the wrappers and creating a zig-zag chain? Those wrappers. She’d been saving them since 1976 and finally decided to toss them. She got a virtual standing ovation from the declutter group.

 Collecting is a whole lot of fun. Managing a collection isn’t. Particularly when it comes time to dealing with the space, time, and energy managing that collection demands. 

 I’ve just about finished writing a DIY course for making a Digital TShirt Memory Album. Which could just as easily be a hat, matchbook, glass, or whatever, memory album. (Update October 2. It’s finished now. Go to Udemy dot com and search for ‘Tshirt Memory Album’. It’s free for the month of October. If I post a link directly to the course, it seems like the free option doesn’t show. )

 It’s really simple, actually. Take a picture of the item. Put it in a virtual album and get rid of the actual item. I realize this wouldn’t work for collections where the items are used, but I’d bet that most collections we keep have things in them that we could just as well live without.

 Yes, this is so darned logical, isn’t it? So why the issues?

 Because we often equate the THING with the EMOTION. The TShirt of the Sturgis 50th brings back some pleasant memories. And without those triggers, we fear we might forget. So, let’s clarify. It’s not the THING that triggers the emotion, it’s what the thing represents. And a picture is just as good at triggering as the actual thing. Sure, feel and smell play a part, but if the visual trigger is there, the memories will respond.

 So, the moral of this story is…. consider the collections in your home. Could you gain space, air, lightness, control, and a bit of peace by perhaps transforming a physical collection into a ‘virtual’ collection? Worth thinking about, isn’t it

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