Originally published at: https://discgolf.ultiworld.com/2019/11/25/on-collecting/
Photo: Marshall Street Disc Golf
I live about an hour and fifteen minutes from Marshall Street, which is a good thing. It means that I can get up there any time I need to, but it’s far enough away that I won’t find myself wandering in on a random Tuesday afternoon, ready to accidentally blow 70 bucks on fresh plastic.
In the summer, I never actually go to MSt. My visits merely coincide, I tell myself, with trips to Maple Hill or Treehouse, but there I am all the same. In the winter, though, there is one event that dictates a trip directly to MSt. with almost 100% reliability: a snow day and school closure.
It’s true, I have been teaching high schoolers while I await my own McBethian contract.
On our final snow day of this past winter, I found myself leafing through the X-Out rack, talking to Sam1 and Jason2 about the various goings on in the disc golf world while already holding a fresh MD5. The MD5 is essentially a Gator, of which I already have three on my rack at home, which is essentially a Mortar, of which I also have three and actually bag. I have backups of backups of premium plastic discs that barely change over time. I have at least a hundred discs that I have never thrown. I have a hundred more in boxes downstairs that I never will throw.
Some people sit on Facebook on Friday nights, waiting for the notification that new Sexybirds are available to drop, and then dart over to the factory site to snatch up as many as they can, presumably to flip later for a few dollars more. I’m lurking right there with them, and occasionally I buy multiples, but I have no desire to sell them. For me, the joy of disc buying is not in the business of turning a profit, but in the acquisition and storage, the basic ownership of a thing that I want. And not necessarily because they are rare or special or sentimental, though that does help. It’s because I like having them. I like seeing them on my homemade rack in the laundry room. I like pulling them all down, sorting them into piles, and then rearranging them while I listen to music. I like turning off the light to reveal the scattering of glow discs slotted throughout the racks. I like to pretend throwing them as I pace around on the phone. I even keep a few in my car just to hold while I drive.
This is a safe space, right? I mean, you’re here reading this on a website devoted to disc golf, so can I assume that some of you do this too?
The big thing of the past few months was Marie Kondo’s Netflix show based on her bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I am allergic to self-help trends but I think I get the gist of Mrs. Kondo’s masterwork: go through your stuff, pick up items and hold them, and then throw them out if they do not spark joy. That spark of joy seems to be the crux of the whole thing.
Like many viral ideas, this concept was so sticky because many people already behave that way but never named the practice. I mean, every year I bring a bag of clothes to Goodwill. My process for selecting which clothes lose their spot in the closet is completely based on that spark of joy. I consider when I last wore an item, when I ever would again, and whether I even like the thing in the first place. So long slim-fit denim shirt of my 20s — my 30s have been neither slim nor fit. Adios burnt orange khakis from my first teaching job six years ago. Bon voyage T-shirt from an Ultimate tournament that I didn’t even attend in 2004.
….wait, hold up. Actually, that one can stay.
Sometimes clothes don’t stay clothes, but become artifacts, and artifacts are precious and worth keeping. Old things earn the right to their storage space simply by surviving. The love that protected them years ago is a durable spell, and it protects them still. That ugly, bleach-stained tournament T-shirt is not a piece of clothing anymore. It is a link to who I used to be, proof that I existed in a time and place, that I have traveled, that I am the same person now that I was then, even if I have forgotten or shed so much of who I used to be. Same too of my first Mako3, in a way.
Aaaaaand, even more than that, I just like getting new discs! They’re glossy and clean and perfect and you can walk out the door with them or find them bundled in perfect little packages waiting like a puppy at your front door. And besides, as far as hobbies go there are more expensive things I could be into. My buddy collects rare bourbon and shotguns, for instance. Shoot, I could take up ball golf if I really wanted to put myself in the poor house. For me, retail therapy is still cheaper than the real thing.
All this to say: if you are living within your means, you do not owe anyone a pragmatic explanation for why you just bought a Ricky Destroyer when you still have three 4Xs laying around. Just tell ‘em that it sparks joy in you… and never forget to take the stickers off before you get home.
This article originally appeared in the June 2019 Marshall Street Disc Golf Newsletter