I am a collector of things. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as there a “number” of them to collect.

When I was real young I used to go around the house “bumping” into dressers, desks, and chairs to see what things would fall off. Most of the time pennies, paper clips, and buttons fell, but occasionally it was a piece of candy or a bobby pin. Once it was a pen knife. At six years old, it was exciting to “find” these things, although my only way to really collect them was to help them find their way to the ground. I didn’t consider it stealing, though it certainly was. Too excited to let such a gray area interfere with my collecting, I soon needed a shoe box to contain all of my treasures.

When I had enough pennies I went to Fays drugstore after church and bought a six pack of Tic Tacs or ten feet of bubblegum tape. It wasn’t long before I had a whole collection of Tic Tac boxes and bubblegum tape containers, which I then filled with sharks’ teeth and rock salt.

Over the years my collecting changed in focus. A boy of eight hardly finds bobby pins and paper clips amusing. I turned to pen knives and pocket watches found at antique shows, really something my father started me on. He bought one and then two for Christmas or a birthday and then started showing me the glass cases that held them at the antique shows. To a boy that young, anything in a glass case was worth collecting.

A boy can only have so many pen knives and stop watches before he grows bored though. That’s when I turned to baseball cards. The more I purchased, the more I told myself they would be worth something when I got older, to assuage the guilt of spending so much on them. I even joined a baseball card collecting club in middle school, purchasing box sets any time they offered them. Several years later, my closet shelves full of cards, the baseball card market stumbled and never recovered. I quickly lost my interest in cards.

My passion for collecting has always been like that, hot at one moment and lukewarm distaste another. I collected CD’s at one point, and then spent all my money as a teen collecting Star Wars figures, and later DVD’s. I have collected miniature tanks, dragons, books, video games, toy soldiers, baseballs and comic books.

I haven’t been a lifelong collector of a single thing. My passions wane and at some point or another I try and offload them to recoup some of the money I spent. Most of my collections are worthless and Ebay has made more than one lose most of its value, at which point I pack them away for a time when they might again be worth something. For now they sit in closets collecting dust.

In my sane moments when I am not collecting, I think it would be good if I never collected another thing. I would save money and time wasted on a passion that never really meant much. I could use that time and money for something worthwhile, that would have meaning ten, twenty, thirty years down the road.

Yet a part of me will never give up collecting, not because I am enamored with the things of this world, but because I like having a passion about something. And having a passion for something can be a noble thing. And therein might lie source of dissatisfaction with collecting so far. Maybe I have just been passionate about the wrong kind of things.

© Seth Crossman