Compare and Contrast

In my last post I mentioned that many, if not most people are collectors.  The process of collecting things comes in many forms, and often people aren’t even aware that they do it, or don’t consider themselves a collector in the traditional sense.

Sometimes people just like to bring home souvenirs from places they’ve been: spoons, shot glasses, refrigerator magnets, etc.  Other people take their collections more seriously and usually have a lot more of these types of things: antiques, record albums, books, toys and similar items.

Many people collect clothes, shoes, handbags, etc., and even though they don’t consider themselves to be collectors, they are, in the sense that they are constantly adding, but never get rid of anything that they don’t need anymore, thereby making themselves collectors.

And it’s not that collecting things is necessarily bad.  It’s how you manage and maintain your collection that becomes important. After seeing the season premier of A&E’s Hoarders, I was struck by the way that different people manage their collections, and this Hoarders episode seemed like the perfect example to illustrate the point.

This particular episode highlights a couple who have spent years collecting so many toys and games to the point that it has taken over their home and their lives.  Their collection is piled up in every room, taking up every available space to the point of hoarding; The process of collecting has become the focus, not the collection itself.

Now contrast this with an example from my own family.  I have a relative who lives in a small town who has been collecting dolls for years. Thousands of dolls, of every type and kind that you can imagine.  Antique baby dolls, action figures, Barbies, even Pez dispensers.  The list goes on and it is quite breathtaking to see in person.  The difference?  She has had a small house (dollhouse?) built on her property, with shelves and display cases to organize and display her vast collection.  She is proud of her collection and maintains it accordingly.  It is in fact, a small museum.

I realize that not everyone has the luxury of constructing a building to display their collections, and that many collections are just fine displayed in the home.  But the larger point I’m trying to make is that how you maintain your collection is as important as the collection itself.  Is it something that you are proud of and keep organized and well maintained, or is it just a big collection of stuff that is taking over your life?