Cumberland Times-News

Maude McDaniel - Living

December 3, 2011

Hobbies are often other people’s ideas


Sometimes collections just happen.
Those are the ones that owe their existence to the kindness of others.
Quite often, people don’t choose to collect things. Who would decide deliberately, for instance, to gather a lifetime collection of photographs of, say, old outhouses? Or who would on purpose start out saying, “ I think I will collect — old dust cloths” Or “hey, rubber bands!” Yet, I know people who collect those kinds of things, through no choice of their own. Somebody gave them a pretty dustcloth, or a distinctive rubber band — and they hung on to it, and showed it to visitors as a curiosity, and that was that. Friends took over.
I lie. I do not know anyone who collects dustcloths or rubber bands. (I do believe there is, somewhere in my past, someone who collected photos of old outhouses, but I couldn’t tell you his name. Nor would I if I could.) But this column does dreadful things to me. I was desperate for examples, and, let this be one to you — I ended up telling lies. I apologize.
My point however was that so often collectors collect the things they collect not so much because they make a single rational decision to collect these things (”From now on, I plan to collect 16th-century ceremonial halberds”), but because other people choose to remember some distant spur-of-the-moment, unconsidered remark you made once in their presence. Like “Oh, isn’t that an attractive 16th century halberd?”
In other words, our collections are often unmotivated, growing more out of other people’s desperation, (”What in the world can I get her for Christmas?”), than out of some deep-rooted love for spittoons or fishing lures. Sometimes a mahjong tile seems to be the only thing that fills your need to find something to give to someone — but that can be the start of an illustrious collection.

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Maude McDaniel - Living
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