Collecting the Great People

I'm a collector. Otis Redding on vinyl, Russian nesting dolls, glass milk bottles, Patsy Cline autographs, manual pencil sharpeners.

I actually don't collect any of those items.

Having lived in small spaces in big cities, I have - out of necessity and a Scrooge-ish disinclination to pay for storage - become something of a minimalist.

Except for the one thing I collect. In that, I am a total maximalist. And what I collect are great people.

I find them the same way you find other collectibles: by rummaging, talking to other collectors, exploring unexplored places, believing/trusting/knowing that they're out there.

And they are. I found one great person working at the library and two selling lip balm at a clam festival. Another was scooping ice cream, another was next to me in a writing class. There was one sitting alone in the dining hall and one wearing great earrings at a reception.

And these great people fill up the rooms of my life. They help me to be less fearful, to be kinder, to spend more time - as Jack London would say - living and not just existing. Really, they help me to be wholer.

Which means I'll keep on collecting. And here's the terrific thing: while the world's got a limited supply of Otis Redding vinyls or Patsy Cline autographs, I do believe there's an unlimited supply of great people out there.

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BelongingCaitie Whelan