Over the years, I have variously collected stamps, coins, pens, lighters, Buddhist artifacts, Dieter Ram’s, pipes, prints, autographed books and the list is still growing.  I have often wondered what drives man to own objects, what objects are worthy to collect, and what is the meaning of the activity itself.

Is it instinct, stamped into our nature as hunter gatherers, the excitement of a chase, to follow the scent of a prey and the fulfillment of ego when the prize is in the lair?

What is it that brings joy to the process, the acquisition of new knowledge about an unknown realm or details hitherto undeciphered, or is it a need to define oneself, one’s taste and once stature, based on what one has collected, like the costume one puts on or feathers a chief displays?

Or is it just the need to overcome the transience of life itself, to possess something as if it will be an everlasting reality, to dupe oneself and achieve the monumental through the objects we gather? To define ourselves everlasting through our collections, however trivial they are.

Or is it the ultimate samsara, to hang on and hold on and grasp and covet that which cannot be ours forever, not that we can ever even aspire to everness.

So I have wrangled and wrestled everyday with such reflections in my mind even as I observe myself to chase one group of objects after another or take fancy of them and move on, to grow up and graduate to a different level or migrate to more mature pastures, ever finding novelty and excitement in the process.

Ah, it must be the process.

The joy is in the process of collecting, isn’t itz?  How many times when I have researched, seeked and scoured for the coveted timepiece, a particular coin, or a painting, and waited interminably with great anticipation, only to put aside the object as soon as the possession is possessed and the collecting ends in a collection.

And then, not being an artist by training or talent, at least I can aspire to train a pair of discernng eyes, to seek a finer object, a beauty unseen and rise above the humdrum through a mosaic of possessions which define ‘me’ in an ever more anonymous world.

Through collecting, as an art, we redefine ourselves, and learn are reminded of the impermanence of all things, this life and all the collected objects, the futility of ownership and evanescent in art.  We also learn the the relativity of values, that experience is more important than mere ownership.  What good is a Picasso that is never looked upon? Why collect paintings if you are blind, or music that you cannot listen to?