Sunday, March 25, 2012

The future is here

A few days ago, I read something that really got me thinking.

Robert at "$30 A Week Habit" recently made a post that dealt with the topic of having a "grand plan" when it comes to collecting. Whether it's collecting a specific team, a specific player, or a specific set, having a "grand plan" basically means having a clear focus of one's collection.

For anyone that's read my blog, you know that I don't even have the slightest semblance of any type of "plan". I collect what I like, and I like a lot. I've never gone to a card show with a specific want list in my hand. Any time my dad asks me what I'm looking for at an upcoming show, I always give the same answer.

"We'll see."

While at first I shrugged the idea off, Robert's "grand plan" post made me wonder. "Will I ever have collect with only a few interests in mind?"

That thought led to: "Will I ever have to downsize my collection in the future?"

And that thought led me to the question I think we've all asked ourselves at one point in time.

"Will I even be collecting in the future?"

It seemed like a silly question at first. I don't know whether or not cards will look like the Hunter Pence card at the top of the post in 2020, as Topps predicted with their futuristic-looking inserts from a couple years ago, but I'd still be collecting.

Of course I'd still be collecting.

Then I remembered that I'm in my twenties now. There's no doubt that I'm looking forward to seeing what the coming years have in store for me. But sometimes I wonder what will happen my collection as I get older.

Whether it's lack of money, time, or simply just interest, I've heard many stories of people that have put their collections on hiatus during the point of time that I'm nearing. I never thought that would happen to me, but then I started to have a bit of doubt. You just never know what's going to happen in life, especially during your twenties.

To get the real answer to my question, I had to look back.

When it comes to baseball cards, this is my earliest memory.

A seemingly innocent 1957 Topps Don Bessent.

I can't really pinpoint a specific age when I began collecting, but I'm fairly certain that this was my first big baseball card acquisition.

Best I can recall, one of my dad's friends was moving into a new house when I was about seven or eight years old. They came across a small box of baseball cards that had been left by the previous home owner, a box which included the Bessent card above.

Somehow, the cards wound up in my hands.

There weren't any Mickey Mantles or anything in the cards I got, but that didn't matter. These were cards from the 1950's, a time which must have seemed prehistoric when I was eight.

I've been hooked ever since.

There's never been a point in time which I've altogether stopped collecting. I was into cards of all sports early on in my collecting "career". I was interested in pretty much anything I could get my hands on. But I was still collecting.

As I got to middle school, I went into a brief period where I only collected MLB Showdown cards. No regular baseball cards, just those. I'd buy pack after pack of them, hoping for those legendary "foil" cards. But I was still collecting.

By the end of middle school, I was only collecting hockey cards. My theory on why that happened is because the previous year's strike had made me go a whole year without it. Even though I'm a hockey fan, I'm still not completely sure why I went all-out in collecting just hockey cards. But I was still collecting.

Once high school came along, I was in heaven. Once again, I was collecting baseball cards. Just baseball cards. Nothing else. That's where I stand today, almost six years later.

And I'm still collecting.

Even as things changed around me, I still collected with as much passion as any other point in my life.

After thinking about all that, I thought I had my question answered. I'll definitely still be collecting in the future, no doubt about it.

I was still forgetting one thing, though.

Times of hardship.

How would my collection fare during those times? Luckily, I had an answer to that question as well.

I've been pretty lucky thus far. I haven't really had too many crazy things happen yet in my life. I've gotten by so far with only a few scrapes. I saw a lot of other kids' lives start to complicate towards the end of high school. I felt lucky, because the biggest thing I could remember worrying about in my later high school years was whether or not I was going to pass Drivers' Ed. (I did.)

All throughout high school, I continued collecting through anything I encountered.

The most eye-opening experience I've had so far was going away to college a couple years ago. Like any other teenager about to be on his own for the first time, I thought, "This is going to be great!"

To put it shortly, it wasn't. I found out pretty quickly that it wasn't the most socially conductive environment. I roomed with one of my best friends from high school, but he ended up dropping out about halfway through the semester.

I ended up spending a lot of time by myself as a result, counting down the days I could finally leave the place. But a funny thing started to happen.

I relied on my baseball cards even more than I did before. In times like that, I would've thought I'd lose interest in "expendable" things like cards while I was learning just what a crazy place the world could be.

Nope, I was collecting with a passion and fury that surprised even myself. Looking back on it, I guess I was just looking for that one stable presence. I didn't have a family that I could go back to when things started to get too crazy at the time. Sure, I could talk to them over the phone during the week, but I was living on my own, after all.

I quickly found that stable presence. Baseball cards.

I'd ordered a box of 2010 Topps Update while I was on my own. When it finally came in the mail, I literally sprinted up to my dorm room. I've never opened a box with as much excitement as that box had. It was my first cardboard introduction to Stephen Strasburg.

It was also my first genuine piece of happiness in an otherwise dark period of time.

And it was all thanks to simple pieces of cardboard.

Thankfully, things are back to normal now.

Even better than normal, actually. I'm still excited that Heritage is on the shelves, and I can't wait for baseball season to begin.

I'm even planning to go away to college again in the near future. Only this time, I'll be better prepared.

Through it all, I've always had my baseball cards. They've always been there. I know that I still have a lot to learn, especially during the coming years. I know I'll still have to step in the box for a few more of life's curveballs.

But thanks to the blogosphere and a little retrospection, I now have a definitive answer to the immortal question.

Will I still be collecting in the future? Yes, I will.

There's no doubt in my mind.


Robert said...

Sometimes the best not having one. I guess collecting is like life in that you can't always dictate what's going to happen, it just comes to you.

Great post Nick

Mike said...

Considering I'll be 46 in a couple days and I still collect and enjoy records....I think collecting is in your DNA,boy!'re welcome! Haha!