Monday, December 31, 2007
I just went through my comic book collection the other day, tossed 1/4. I do this periodically with all my collections -- comics, books, DVDs, toys, even clothes. I do this because I know I have a tendency to be a pack rat. And knowing is half the battle.
Are you an overwhelmed collector? With the New Year upon us, now might be a great time to take stock.
1. Has your collection squeezed you out of essential living space?
2. Do you have parts of your collection either in your kitchen or bathroom -- not by choice?
3. Does your collection make you fill up with joy or dread?
4. Do you have visions of you passing away and your family struggling to get rid of all your stuff?
5. Do you want to relocate, but your collection has become so unwieldy that it would be cost-prohibitive to move it?
6. Do you keep stuff you feel no love for just because you think they might be valuable some day or just out of the principle that you must keep everything you buy?
7. Do you spend more time with your collection or other human beings?
8. When a piece of your collection gets damaged, do you get disproportionately upset?
9. Do you keep your collection in their original packaging and not touch or read them?
10. Have you ever skipped meals because of a financial deficit caused by a past, present, or future collection purchase?
It's fine to collect things. But we must not let our collections gets out of hand or distract us from what is really important in life. Here are some strategies:
A. Please keep in mind the Zen idea of Impermanence. Everything in this world is impermanent -- finite. Everything you own will eventually end up in thr trash heap. Everything you own will eventually get damaged and crushed and turn to dust. Even that museum-quality Iron Man helmet you bought.
B. Please keep in mind that YOU are impermanent. Your days are finite. Get a calculator and figure out roughly how many years, weeks, and days you might have left. I know that sounds ghoulish, but it's a wake-up call. Decide how you might want to enjoy your time left on Earth. Certainly reading comic books and the thrill and hunt of the collection are valid ways. But being obsessive over your collections or limiting the amount of time you spend with others might not be so valid.
C. Human beings grow and evolve; their possessions reflect that evolution, or they should. If you have surrounded yourself with He-Man figure from when you were a kid but you've psychologically moved past that era, those toys in-your-face are going to drag you down. Having one or two would be okay -- having Castle Grayskull mint in box in your living room while you have totally grown out of that is not okay.
D. If you are keeping the majority of your collection mint in package without touching them, you have a problem. Unless they are vintage Megos, in which case it's okay.
E. Comics and toys of past eras have ended up going up in price because back in the 40s-70s people were not that savvy about collecting for investment. But now they are. So the prices will never go up that much for new items. Unless they're Marvel Legends, in which case it's okay.
F. Every six months you need to go through your collections and cull 1/4 of them for irrelevant items. You need to be ruthless. Never keep comic books you feel "meh" about. Because comic books add up, multiply, have babies, take over your house.
G. Some comic books are worth more as recycled paper. Meditate on this one.
H. It is hard, but not impossible, to get a person to sleep with you when you have 300 pairs of action figure eyes staring down from the shelves in your bedroom. If you are considering sharing your life with somebody who may not be into the same hobbies as yourself, you might want to put those toys or hardcover collections of Witchblade in a den or living room instead.
I. If you want to get rid of large irrelevant parts of your collection but are agonizing about how to get rid of them for more than three months, go now and toss them in a garbage bag and just dump them and run away. Then come back and read the rest of my post.
J. A lot of times we purchase items for our various collections not out of a joy for the item being collected but out of a deep emotional need. Pay attention the next time you buy a comic book or toy or other collectible whether you are buying it because you will get enjoyment out of it or because you are feeling lonely/empty/bored. Learn to recognize the difference.
K. Never buy something because the purchased item might be useful/valuable for some indeterminate time in the future. Never buy a DVD if you have a stack you haven't watched yet. Never buy two of something for "investment." Never buy because you think your unborn child might get a big kick out of it when they're 30. Believe me, when they're 30, they'll be zipping around in their Jetsons cars.
Finally -- and this is more esoteric so bear with me -- the future will place less and less importance on owning "things." The trend will be not to have a big DVD collection but to either keep purchased copies on your hard drive or disc or to stream them anytime you want. As climate changes get more unpredictable and the economy more unstable, things like relocation becomes more and more an issue. You need to be flexible. You can't be burdened by tons of stuff in your house or apartment that impedes you from being mobile. If you have ever moved a big comic book collection, you know of which I speak.
People have been collecting objects they have an affinity for and amassing little libraries since ancient times. That's great. That's human. But -- like everything -- "all in moderation."
Except if it's those cute little wind-up robots from Japan, in which case it's okay.