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Are You One Who Collects All The Things?

July 13, 2020

I used to be. I’m not anymore. At least I don’t think I am.

You know those Facebook challenges that say to put an X next to every state you’ve been to? Or every country you’ve visited?

I don’t do them anymore. Partly because I don’t remember how many states I’ve been to. I also don’t remember how many countries I’ve visited. Does transfering in the airport count? Or does it only count if you’ve been through immigration? Or maybe a stamp in your passport?

I’ve lived in many states, and I’ve visited many more. I haven’t visited all of them. I know I’ve never been to Hawaii and I think there are some Southern states I may not have been to.

I used to care. I don’t anymore.

My friend Howard Tayler has been writing his web comic Schlock Mercenary for 20 years. He is now writing the last of the story. I interviewed him a couple years ago when he was still plotting out the last book that is now unfolding online.

He publishes his web comic in paper books. When discussing the end of his series he talked about publishing the final book,

And then those of you who want to collect all the things can finally complete your collection.

I collected his books for a while. Rare “unmarked” numbered editions. Eventually, I traded them back to my friend for ordinary versions and gave them to my son who read them voraciously, if not pristinely. I realized I didn’t want to collect all the things.

I collected odd things. When George Lucas brought out an updated version of the original Star Wars triology, I bought both the Gold box (Widescreen) and the Silver box (full screen.)

In fact, I remember watching a movie, I would decide if I wanted to buy the movie. So, that I could have it. I had a lot of movies. I have away a bunch of them.

The same thing with books. I bought entire series. I bought everything by a particular author. Now, I decide if I ever think I might want to read a book again. If so, I keep it. If not, I am more likely to give it away.

We 13 kids, many of whom are adopted, some of my friends joke that I collect children. That didn’t happen, but I have collected other things.

I used to collect Mustang models. I had over 300 “Hot Wheels” sized cars. They are 1/64 scale. And some of them were very rare and expensive. I recently gave my collection to my neighbor’s 6 year old son. He doesn’t appreciate the uniqueness of the collection. He only knows that there are lots of shiny cars.

I really only collect three things any more. The first is pocket watches. And this group is exclusive. Each watch was either a gift from a specific family members or belonged to a family member. I have a watch from my son, my wife, my father, my grandfather and my great grandfather.

I would imagine this collection will get passed down to my children and grandchildren. At least I hope so.

The second thing I collect are challenge coins. They aren’t true challenge coins. None of them are military coins. But, they have the form of challenge coins. Some are from my friend Howard Tayler’s universe. He made them to go along with the web comic. Some are from National or State Parks or Monuments. Some are from Scouting. Some are from other organizations. I’ll build a display case for them at some point. For now, they all sit in my desk drawer.

And finally, I collect baseball caps. I’m kind of a baseball nut and I have a baseball cap from every stadium that I’ve seen a game in.

But, it’s not really about the hats, or the coins. They represent experiences. I don’t buy a hat unless I’ve been to the stadium and watched a game. The hat is a reminder. That game in Pittsburg where we had to drive three hours through a rain storm and had no idea if the game would be cancelled. The game in Arlington, TX that I drove to from Shreveport, LA. It was three hours each way, and a great game with my beleaguered Mariners vs the Texas Rangers.

The coins are similar. I don’t simply collect them unless I’ve been to the place that they refer to. I have one from Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi. It was also a long drive from Shreveport. Yellowstone, Zions, Grand Canyon National Parks. Cedar Breaks National Monument. The Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska. Goblin Valley State Park. And many others.

I guess I still collect some of the things. But my collections have changed. I don’t care if I personally touch every state. I don’t care how many countries I’ve visited. I don’t care to collect books, or models. Instead, I want experiences and mementoes from those experiences. It’s like art. I collect art. I have framed originals. . .most are from my kids. And a couple from people I know who are artists.

Stuff is just stuff and it can be bought and sold. But, memories, live forever. Experiences can’t be taken away.

Those are the things I want to collect now.

What are the things you collect?

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

  1. Patricia Nelson permalink

    Why is it kind of sad when I remember the collection of bears and rocks I collected through my youth. Like my youth they somehow were left behind somewhere along the trip. But I have warm memories of the adventure of finding a new addition to the collections.

    • I was like that with the cars. But I realized I was enjoying the getting but not the having. In fact many sat unopened in a bin in the garage. It was really about finding new ones not enjoying the several hundred I owned.

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