The Collector vs. The Collection: A distinction to think about

As a professed nester, over the years it has become necessary more than once for me to cull through what has been purchased, gifted, inherited, etc. and make decisions about what to keep, give away or toss. That has proven easier with some things than others. This is particularly true with one of my collections.

Stamp CollectionIf you were to visit my home there is something I’m fairly certain you would notice are prominent: Birds. Not live feathered friends requiring care, but images of birds in all artistic mediums. I’m not sure when this particular almost gravitational pull began but I’ve recognized it as being related to my roots and values. I am captivated by the grace and strength of these creatures.

There is something about the freedom of their flight balanced with the care they put into their nests that appeals to me. And their diversity in sight and song is amazing.

Eventually though, space (and taste) mandated that I move from indiscriminately collecting birds to having an art collection that included many different depictions of birds. It was when I made that choice that I began to see a deeper truth.

When we are just a collector, not only do we tend to buy things simply because they are whatever it is we collect, so does everyone who knows us. Not everything we buy or receive really enhances or expands what is already there. That is when we begin to devalue the collection we have built. We run out of space and we run out of enthusiasm. As with anything, being deliberate and intentional raises the value bar. To go from “collector” to “collection” means we protect what is personal and purposeful.

There is a lesson here beyond just physical collections. Are we being intentional and strategic with the people and places we are experiencing? The books we are reading? Are we allowing ourselves to go outside the boundaries of what we’ve always had and experience something or someone new? Are we looking for the deeper meaning of what is drawing us in vs. just the surface appeal?

When we see our days as a collection of experiences and associations that are creating the tapestry of our lives, I believe we will become more selective and that we will evolve beyond just being collectors of whatever comes our way to having a strategic life collection that is powerful and purposeful. What are you collecting?

Live today like you want tomorrow to be.

Live well. Collect well.

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