Jan 28, 2015

On Being a Pack Rat . . .

I touched on this a couple of weeks ago, the fact that I'm a bit of a pack rat. Specifically I mentioned my collection of PENS. You may also recall when I started working on my book nook I posted a couple of pictures of my books and office supplies. And I have to confess, that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as my compulsive collecting of "stuff".

And you know me, I couldn't just leave it at the fact that I'm a pack rat. I had to do a Google search to learn where the expression came from. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that pack rats are a real thing!

Isn't he cute? It's also called a woodrat. They live in nests called middens and are usually found in the southwest or the west coast. According to Wikipedia: A peculiar characteristic is that if they find something they want, they will drop what they are currently carrying, for example a piece of cactus, and "trade" it for the new item. They are particularly fond of shiny objects. These two traits have inspired an anecdote about a man finding his dime replaced by two nickels. They can also be quite vocal and boisterous.

Along with pens, books, and office supplies, I also collect fairies, dragons, unicorns, and windchimes. The fairy collection is small and is displayed neatly on a single shelf in my office. The dragons and unicorns are pretty much spread throughout the house, as are my windchimes. I have a beautiful carved wooden trunk in my office that I use for my sentimental collection - pictures, invitations, cards, etc.

Further research reveals that there's a fine line between being a pack rat and being a hoarder. Pack rats love to collect things. But it's the nature of the items collected, the meaning attached to the items and the way collecting affects their lives that makes the difference between being an avid collector and being a hoarder.

If your collection has sentimental value, is displayed efficiently, without creating clutter in your house or chaos in your life, chances are your an avid collector, or pack rat. But if your collecting has left your life in shambles and you're navigating along narrow passages through your collection, then you, my friend, are a hoarder.

Hoarding is a serious condition that goes far beyond being a pack rat. The hoarder takes collecting to the extreme where it interferes with their lives. They keep collecting things that they have no use for and no space to display them. They often become secretive, refusing to allow visitors in to witness how extreme their collection has become.

I think it's the inability to get rid of items that truly separates the pack rat from the hoarder. The pack rat can see the necessity of weeding out their collection periodically, if only to make room for newer items. The hoarder doesn't.

So by that definition I am definitely a pack rat. While I may be sentimentally attached to my "stuff", and I have several different collections, I have been known to thin out my collections every once in awhile. I'm not saying it's easy, and occasionally I regret getting rid of certain items, but there's always more to take their place.

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