Thinking about our attachment to things this week, I decided to ask random friends to tell me what things they collect beyond the level of need. I was quite surprised with some of the results (toilet roll, bikes) and not surprised with others (boots, books).
I wasn’t surprised that books came out as the clear winner (as book accumulation is an affliction of my own) but I was surprised to see food and wine on the list. But this got me thinking about my own buying habits. Although I cited books, boots and coats as my ‘things’, I realised that I also accumulate the less durable things in life. My list should also include cheese.
I don’t just collect lumps of cheddar (we have four in the fridge at the moment) but I also collect Mexicana, cheese with peppers, cheese with herbs and cheese with fruit.
This indicates to me that you can be as attached to ‘consumables’, as the economist in me calls them, such as cheese and chocolate), as you can be to ‘durables’ (another economics term, the solid stuff).
I believe that both sorts of accumulation are a positive (up to a point of course – if you can still move around your house freely around your collection then its not a problem). A need to collect to me isn’t automatically a sign of lack, or of anxiety, depression or weakness. It can be a sign of optimism, security and appreciation of ‘the little things’ in life, such as being able to have a lump of cheese with herbs when the mood arises. My collections make me happy. I love to admire my ‘to read’ book shelf. I have a special relationship with my books and this doesn’t detract my attention from any relationships I have with other people. They are not mutually exclusive. The same goes for my boots (of which I have a lot) and perhaps also the cheese. They are not compensating for a lack, they enhance the positives in other areas of my life. At least that’s my theory.
I made a pie chart of the responses from my friends of their collections.
It’s a very nice pie chart. I think I will celebrate with a lump of cheese now.