Chaos and Kanji is the blog where I write about my adventures through Japan!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why ask why?

Do you remember those commercials? I didn't have my first beer until long after the Bud Dry commercials dried up (pun intended), but the slogan really stuck with me as a response to "Why?"

Fuji asks:

Why do you collect?

Why? That's the great question. (Except the answer isn't 42.)

As I've been turning this question over in my mind I've thought carefully about the real reasons why I collect. You know, the subconscious reasons.

Prepare to get serious.

And as I've thought about what caused it, my mind went into a very strange, dark place where I don't like to think. It's no deep, dark secret, but it's heavy psychology.

My family are hoarders. I don't want to go into it too much, partly because it's a personal side of someone else's life. But I will say my mom did a great job a couple years ago cleaning up her life and cleaning out her house, and I helped my grandma do the same with her basement last year.

I, too, had accumulated boxes and boxes of junk as my interests have changed. When I was a kid, I had plenty of toys. I kept a lot of them because I planned on sharing them with children of my own (though I still have no kids). My first major baseball card collecting phase was 1989-1998, and all my cards from that time were condensed into storage boxes and carted around from place to place after college. After I lost interest in baseball cards, I got big into action figures (from a collectible standpoint) and movie stuff - this is when I worked at Blockbuster, so I had access to the latest movies' posters, toys, and memorabilia tie-ins. As I started traveling around America, I found little souvenirs to remind me of my visits.

It wasn't until around March or April of 2010 that I realized that everything I had and everything that my life "meant" to me was not what I wanted. I figured out that I needed to clear out the clutter, and got rid of the junk. I still have all my baseball cards and a lot of other souvenirs from my travels and movie interests, but I sold all the figurines and got rid of the boxes of perfectly good old clothes and knickknacks.

I realized that buying stuff was a way to make me feel happy. I guess it's your typical shopaholic mentality. But I also came to find out that all I really wanted was a close, special friend or lover to share my life with.

But here we are, two years later, and I'm still collecting. I'm not hoarding, and I'm happier about what I do collect. So why do I continue? Why am I not out instead looking for my true love?

There is a goal in my collections, and thus my hobby brings purpose to my free time. And since I am now able to share my love of collecting and my collection with everyone here, I cherish the connections and friendships I've made.

I've always enjoyed visiting museums, and I have had a fantasy since I was a child that I'd run my own museum. Sharing my collection as a museum has always been a small dream in my mind, which is why I started Cardboard Zoo. Of course, my aspirations have always been so great that no one man could possibly do it alone... but that's a different topic.

I collect because...
I love baseball.

I love the thrill of the hunt.

I love spending an hour on a lazy Sunday afternoon searching through a dime box.

I love organizing.

I love the sense of accomplishment when I complete a set.
I love the thought, however lofty, that my collection and hobby work will hopefully, eventually provide something worthwhile to the community.

I love opening a pack of cards just to see what I get.

I love discovering cards that I didn't know existed.

I love writing about cards, baseball, and my experiences.
I love having my own mini baseball museum in my little apartment here where I and my visitors can admire my finds.

I love having a hobby that is both "for kids" and "for adults" at the same time.

And I love sharing my finds and stories with all of you and my other friends.


  1. Great post. On a side note... I've watched hoarders and I totally understand what a lot of those people are going through. I think the only thing from keeping me from being a hoarder is my OCD... the part that makes me a neat freak.

    You should see my classroom supply closet. I have supplies that haven't seen the light of day in three years. Whenever there's a sale on school supplies, I stock up. My coworker is always teasing me about my problem... but there's a bit of truth behind each of her jokes.

  2. I used to grab school supplies when the big sales hit, but I found I was never using them. So I stopped. But not until I had something like 20 boxes of crayons, thousands of sheets of paper, binders, stationary, etc... Actually, I tend to gather piles of stuff, and eventually get sick of the clutter and go on a big cleaning mission. Then the cycle starts again.