How do you give something away that you love?
Why does anyone do anything? I could buy nothing but what I hate, so I’d never have a painful moment but how would I know if it was any good? One of the scariest things about going to an estate sale is the possibility of going in and finding nothing but things I can never sell because I love them too much. That just means my wallet’s a little lighter and my house is a little more cluttered. I practice the KonMari method in my purchasing. The things I sell must bring me joy but they also must bring me personal joy to stay in my permanent collection. It’s like the difference between baking a pie yourself and picking one up at a bakery. You know you’re going to enjoy both of them but the one you made is yours. You can just feel the difference.
The start of that feeling for me is an eyebrow raise. I loved word searches as a kid and even now I can search through large quantities of seemingly random objects or information and find one nugget of value. While scanning for treasures, I wait for the eyebrow raise. That’s when I know there’s something special. It might be a certain material or metal, a logo or a painting method. When you know, you know. You know?
There’s also an argument to be had about conservation and personal responsibility, especially to people that live with you and care about you. Are you overstuffing your house with the same items over and over again because you can’t say no every time you see one? Maybe vintage cameras or beer taps, we all have something. At the point that you are only acquiring and never finding a permanent home or place of appreciation for your pieces, that’s where collecting becomes a burden, not a joy. You could have 10,000 pieces in a dazzling room, shelf after shelf of lovingly positioned objects. Or maybe a box of 10 pieces coated in dust you’ve just never found a place for. I’d argue the owner of 10 is doing themselves more of an injustice than the owner of 10,000.
I have a notion that the sum of a life can be described in a series of questions. Some people might spend their entire lives trying to answer the question “What does success look like?” For others it could be “How can I make my experience help others?” “How do I want the world to remember me” or “Who am I?” My life has over and over again brought me back to the question “What does it mean to care for something?”
I’ve discovered my answer through constant interactions with people who use care as a placeholder for self-interest. This philosophy might be summed up in the sentence “How little attention must I give this in order to support the status quo?” And let me tell you honey, that ain’t caring.
I can sell what I love because I recognize that I’m not always going to be the destined owner. Just because I adore something doesn’t mean I get to keep it separated from it’s true home. It’s in those moments that I can recognize that I am not the best person to receive this gift and that passing along does me, the artifact, and the new owner the best possible good. It’s not just about my needs, it’s about fulfilling every potential party involved.
Do you actually love that which you can’t maintain, display and share in affection?
What if what you love no one else loves?
Collect what you love and while on the hunt, search for what you know resonates with a larger audience. I’m obsessed with mid-century glazed ceramics, especially planters. They were created to be a centerpiece, often a focal point in the windowsill or a dining room table. They’re strikingly bold with vibrant colors and designs. I love every one of them but I recognize they are not highly sought after. In my hunt for what I loved I discovered that nostalgia is huge right now, people often search for something they had in their childhood that fell away on their journey to adulthood. Connecting people with those moments in their youth has a very strong pull and whenever I find something I know will stop someone dead in their tracks, I make an effort to salvage it and get it in front of as many eyes as possible. How else to reach that person in the middle of Indiana who’s been looking for a Pink Panther figurine for 6 years?
With an open mind and heart you can always find a color, a line, a design choice that will set your heart aflutter. But finding what will bring someone else Joy is a real challenge that I deeply relish.
Love > Buy > Sell > Love
If you’re going to collect while you purchase, you have to keep the cycle going. Love what you buy, buy what you can sell, sell what you love. Find, preserve and pass along. Help the artifact find its true home.