An angler, a hunter and a gatherer

rodcrafter@islc.netDecember 10, 2011 

I desire many things, I need very little -- words said, yet seldom practiced.

Consumerism is roughly defined as a desire to attain personal happiness through consumption and ownership of material possessions. In my case, it is the number of objects that have taken up residence in my house: hunting, fishing and various outdoor paraphernalia -- items I treasure -- which often result in discussions relating to their significance.

I've mentioned before that I am a holder, which is not to be confused with a hoarder, like those people with a fondness for possessions you might have seen on that TV series.

Just because at one time or another I have either stepped over it, around it or through it, does not qualify me with some psychotic condition manifested by an obsession of ownership. Not once have I entertained the notion that I am obligated to keep any of my "valuables." It's just that at this point I do not choose to dispose of anything which may prove to be useful in the future.

I am fortunate that these treasures do not require any wrapping, packaging or detailed assembly. All items are in plain view, not hidden in a closet, garage or storage facility. Thus. I browse at my leisure, whenever the desire presents itself. Each day holds another surprise discovery previously overlooked.

The real wealth or worth of a man is his ability to harmonize with his surroundings. I feel I do this very well. But then again, there remains that one lone element of discontent.

The argument -- or should I say, disagreement -- goes something like this:

Wife: "Are we going to force our children to sort through it all someday to find the reason their dad barricaded himself with all this junk? You need to learn to appreciate the simple things in life without striving to obtain more and more."

Or, her favorite: "The more you have, the more you have to worry about."

Perhaps I have crested the pinnacle of my collections, but then again, the experiment is almost complete. Retirement lingers on the horizon, and with it comes opportunity.

In Europe, old things become icons and classics. In America, old too often becomes obsolete. I prefer to gauge things by their history, the value of the story each tells while being held, observed or put into use. Being old does not mean an item is useless, quite the contrary. Some of the best have reached perfection while others are just at prime.

Imagine if you will, for a moment, the line tug with your first fishing rod, the pride of a bow and arrow or the shine of that birthday or Christmas rifle. Recall those early days of youth and foolishness, the woods and wilds of your first hunt, that special camping trip or a mountain peak finally conquered. If you could, you know you would revisit days at the lake, sitting at a campfire, trail rides at sunset and early-morning breakfasts. Companions of both man and beast, each in their own right, so much a part of your past. New pups and field trials, champions as well as some that did not quite make the cut.

Much of my collection may be repetitive, but then again, each has a story unique to itself -- some personal, others shared. A good many will always hold secrets, special moments among fields and pastures with names now long forgotten.

Some may say that I have begun a downhill trek into the valley of the shadow of the long-overdue yard sale. Before I become too old and confused, I will always know this: "While I may never find exactly what it is I am seeking while on this earth, I know that if I search long enough I will usually forget exactly what it was I wanted."

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