So I’m walking down the hallway toward the Bagman and Butler Studio, muttering to myself, “I am NOT a collector. I am NOT a collector. I have nothing to show for today’s photo shoot because I am NOT a collector.
Reaching the door, I have an uneasy mixture of feelings – guilt, embarrassment, denial (which is not a river in Egypt). Philosophically, I do NOT believe in collecting. “If we collect things, we become prisoners of our own possessions,” I mutter, unaware that I am beginning to talk to myself out loud again.
My soliloquy continues, “Collecting is an obsessive connection to the past that prevents us from living in the present! I do not collect things because I believe in the Zen Buddhist tradition of Carpe Diem.”
BUTLER (who has suddenly appeared behind me, pushes me through the door): “First of all, Carpe Diem is not Zen Buddhism! Carpe Diem is a literary term from English Literature 101. And, secondly, it’s time you finally came to terms with your addiction to collecting!”
BAGMAN (Leaping forward and pushing Butler out of the way): “Mark! Mark! I’m glad you’re here! Tell Butler that he can’t exclude MY collection from this shootout!”
Confused, I look to Butler for assistance.
BUTLER: (whispering): “You know his collection. The one he hid under his bed when he was a teenager.”
This is quickly going from bad to worse. I make a last ditch effort to escape but Butler has barred the door. I don’t know what Butler has planned for me. But I do know Bagman and I know darned well that we’re not going to display his collection in any G-rated blog, and I tell him so.
BAGMAN (Red with anger): “You are both prudish wusses!” He leaves, slamming the door hard enough to break the molding. Again.
So Butler and I are now alone in the studio and I’m shaking my head and continuing to deny that I have any interest in collecting things. Don’t over-emphasize the past. Live in the present. Don't be tied down with possessions. That’s my motto. "I'm free of material things," I argue to Butler. "Show me one thing that I collect. Just show me!"
BUTLER: “What about your coin collection? You’ve been collecting coins since you were 15.”
“Numismatics,” I protest. It’s a science, not to mention an investment.”
BUTLER: “Phooey! You have no intention of selling any of them. And how about the old bottle collection?”
“No. Those are Karen’s. She had them when we got married. She loves auctions and antique stores. I just tag along to keep her company.”
BUTLER: “Except YOU were the one who kept buying old advertising signs.”
“But it was also low tide and high waves and and I wanted to get there before the beach got picked over!"
BUTLER: "It was two A.M.!!!"
"But I found this," I protest sheepishly.
But but now I am beginning to doubt myself. Beachcombing for seashells at night in gale winds and pouring rain does seem to be just a tad on the obsessive side of collecting.
BUTLER: “And how about toys!”
BUTLER: "So why is Captain Jean-Luc Picard in your desk drawer at work!?
I desperately try to rationalise, "Motivation when things get tough?"
BUTLER: "Not even close! And then there's your collection of old picture frames."
BUTLER: "You had more room for them before you let the grandchildren have your studio and moved into the spare studio. And then there is your collection of old negatives..."'
“But I’m a photographer, for gosh sakes!”
BUTLER: “And blogs!”
Tears and confessions are now pouring out of me. Yes. Yes. I can’t show pictures of them, but I have even kept a database of my dreams for 15 years. I even cross reference them by images, themes and keywords.
“But that's information I need for investing.”
“I do! I do!” I bawl, tears of relief flowing freely. “I admit that I’m powerless over collecting and that my life has become unmanageable!”
"Thanks for helping me see the truth. Do you know where there is a Collectors Anonymous meeting I could go to tonight?”