Photo credit: Jason Williard (1983-2016)
I think I might be a hoarder, not of stuff, but ideas, words, knowledge.
I once met a hoarder. At the time, I didn't know what to call it. I was working as a Director of Mortgage Lending for a large financial institution. If a person got far enough behind on their mortgage, we had to inspect their home.
This day, I went to the home of a couple. I'd been working with them for months, encouraging them to stay ahead of the needed inspection but we'd finally reached the point where it was required. I pulled up to their house. From the outside, it looked like any other home in the neighborhood. When I stepped inside, I was shocked. I was a professional, so I kept my game face on, but it wasn't easy.
As we moved through their home, we moved on pathways among the stuff. There were boxes and bags of groceries and supplies lining the floor of the kitchen. I don't know how they cooked because you couldn't reach the counters. There was a path through the middle of the kitchen leading us onwards.
As we entered the living room, I saw cages of pet mice. Again boxes and bags of supplies and who knows what else. The smell was horrific.
The children's bedrooms were probably two to three feet high of toys. The sad part - the children had been taken away by the state. There were no children to play with the wall to wall toys.
The entire house was the same. Stuff piled everywhere with pathways leading the way. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. It's a day that has stuck in my mind ever since, floating back to the surface from time to time.
In the past few years, I've heard and read about hoarding. I think there's more than one kind of hoarding. Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol could be said to be a hoarder - of money, time, love. It seems there are lots of people these days who could be said to be money hoarders.
I think I might be a hoarder too. Not of things, but of thoughts and learning. A hoarder of ideas. I read and read, on and on. I absorb and ponder and ask questions in my mind. There's no end to the ideas that spark a desire for knowing more within. And, there they stay.
A few years ago, I started to realize how this constant yearning for knowledge was interfering with the possibility of creating anything real. I was too scattered.
Over the years, I've been interested in so many things. A new idea comes along; I read and study. I buy whatever I need to apply said knowledge and then.... nothing. Maybe I play a bit at whatever this new thing is, and then some other bright light on the horizon draws me away to a new beautiful shiny project.
I've long since let go of many of the "supplies of ideas" to try and narrow down my interests. Of course, in today's world, it's even worse. The internet gives us instant access to all the knowledge of the ages. We can dive into a topic and not come up for days. We can get lost in an idea, chasing the many nuances available.
Part of the challenge is it all seems so real. But is it? How much of what we read is practical, genuine, honest, valid, the latest information? How much of what you find is an effort to sell something?
I'm an herbalist, for myself and my family. I love plants. In the world of plant medicine, the information available is endless. Over the years, I've learned who I trust and who is selling "snake oil." The truth is, many of the things out there work. But are they the most ethical or the best for any one individual. Those nuances can mean the difference between helping and harming.
Much of the information on the internet is the same. One can get lost in the reading and the learning.
As for me, I'm still reading a lot. After all, I'm on Medium. But I'm also learning to limit my time. I'm also learning I don't need to chase after every little thing. I can rely on others to have the necessary skills or information. And, I can focus my attention on what matters most to me. It's a journey, one where I have to watch myself. It's so easy to tumble down the avenue of ideas. But, one day at a time, I choose to live my life rather than get lost in new things.