Collecting is it a meme or is it a gene?
I collect things. All kinds of things. Throughout my life I have mostly collected books. I love the smell of books, the typeface, the illustrations, the color and the variety. My first memory of a library is my mom promising to take me if I don’t cry when I get my inoculation for measles. I bit my lip and imagined the smell of books. Children’s books smell like children playing, and laughing. Old books smell like wisdom and grace. Mostly they all smell of people, the 100’s of eyes that have caressed the words and the hands that has held on to the knowledge, adventure, romance, lives and imagination contained in every written word. In our garage are hundreds of books, some of them 400 years old. I sometimes have to sell books to make space for new ones. Everything is neat, I know where every book in my house is. If I can’t find one I become a beagle and I hunt.
A few years ago I became obsessed with dolls, old ones and Blythe .It was an expensive obsession. I collected clothes, accessories and some of the most beautiful dolls you have ever seen. They are displayed in my studio, away from sunlight, sticky fingers or any other thing that may harm them.
I collect Art & Ghost illustrations. I love Louise’s work, it speaks to my inner mythology , I collect vintage toys. I collect photos of our family. It is my job to be the archivist of our lives. I collect suitcases, my mom says if I ever leave my home I make sure I have enough space to pack all my collections. Sometimes I dream that I have to move and somehow I am never quite done packing.
I was curious to find out if anybody in our family had the collecter’s bug. I could not remember my grandmother’s having a collection of anything. They were both very poor as young people, both teens during The Great Depression. I think that leaves a huge impression. Although my parents are both very careful wit their belongings neither of them have ever collected anything. I tried to find out about aunts or uncles with the bug but not a soul in our family on either side had the gene or the meme for collecting.
I think the biggest difference between collecting and hoarding is organization and love. When you love what you collect you know exactly what you have and what you would like to have. You know each part of your collection and can usually lay your hands on it within a moments thought. Many people photograph their collections or have special rooms, shelves or lockable safes for their collections. I found this amazing blog the TYPOLOGIST : collector of collections
Hoarders are not discerning and have no order to what they collect. Many of them can find what they are looking for at a push, but fo the most part they just know it is somewhere in there.
Because I suffer from episodes of severe depression which in the worst case scenarion leads to dissociative disorder I started studying dissociation and really very little is known about it. It is a guessing game. How do you study someone that isn’t there? The range of dissociation starts very mild mental absence builds up to amnesia, and on the very end of the spectrum complete personality disassociation which used to be called multiple personality disorder. In my case when I get extremely stressed and depressed I just check out of my body and go to a very unhappy place where all I can remember is crying and nothing else. The longest episode has been two weeks. It is very frightening for people who love you and even more so for the person to whom it is happening. What interested me is that hoarding is a sort of dissociation. Sometimes I do feel that my collections are extreme and take up a lot of space in our lives. But after everything I have read, and everything I have seen. Keeping your collection down to an amount of things that you can love and cherish makes your collection special and worthy. You can enjoy every part of it. When you collect just to have the most of a thing and have so many things that you can not see the trees for the forrest I think you may be tipping into the hoarding classification. I have to specify that not all hoarders suffer from disassociation Disassociation is a symptom of some hoarders. It is not a blanket statement.
If you have something that you collect and love, think about sharing it, share the love of the beauty in your live, perhaps it will inspire others to come out of their collecting closets as well.