Minimalism The Journey #4
Immersion has lead to insight. Immersion is such an important part of the change process for me. It usually takes me hearing a message over and over before it finds a resting place in my mind.
It usually occurs when I am able to see the principles I’m learning about start to play themselves out in my life. Below is an account of how one of those minimalistic principles became real for me:
I came to a realization today. For others this may be obvious, but for me it was a revelation. I was eating a bowl of cereal before bed and gazing upon the heaps of junk pushed to the unused side of our dining room table.
Among the stuff were a handful of my kids Pokémon cards. They had been discarded there and now lay strewn about with the other unclaimed items that seem to forever live on that table.
I remembered back to when my kids first discovered Pokémon cards. My eldest son had just started kindergarten and some of his classmates brought their card collections to school. They played the Kindergarten version of the game during “choice time” (a time dedicated in class where the kids get to spend time doing what they want).
My son came home and told us all about Pokémon cards with the enthusiasm that only a six year old could achieve. Not wanting to be left out, he asked if he could get some of his own Pokémon cards.
We generally don’t just buy our kids stuff. In fact I can probably count on one hand the times we’ve bought them something just because. So we told him what we always tell him, if he wanted to buy anything he’d need to use his own money.
And for the first time he did. After a quick lesson in doing research to find the best deal, he handed over a few dollars and I ordered him an assortment of 100 Pokémon cards online.
The Cards Arrive
A few impatient days later they arrived and he was thrilled. He and my youngest looked through them in amazement. Knowing nothing about Pokémon cards or their relative value, they each became treasured possessions.
He spent hours over the next few weeks sorting through them. When he finished sorting them he’d placed them in a special box for safekeeping. Occasionally he’d leave them out and I’d subject him to a lesson on treating his things with respect as a result. But for the most part he watched over them like a hawk. Especially when his little brother was around.
I didn’t grow up with Pokémon and as a result this Pokémon craze was new to me. My initial instinct is to make some sort of judgment on these cards. Which would in all likelihood be tied to the insane price one has to pay for them.
But my goal as a father is to encourage my kid’s interests and to find value in the things that they value. So I set out to understand the purpose of Pokémon cards. I quickly discovered that the cards are intended to be used to play a game.
Perfect I thought, this could be something that we do together. So I set about trying to learn how to play this game only to discover that it was far more complex that I initially realized.
Un-phased by this challenge, I spent the next couple of weeks immersing myself in the world of Pokémon cards. It took a lot longer than I care to admit, but I eventually figured out how to “battle” with these Pokémon cards. I learned that some cards could cause or sustain more damage than others. These “stronger” cards are therefore better than the ‘weaker’ cards.
I then went through the painstaking process of teaching my son how to battle with his cards, including teaching him that some cards had more “value” than others. Before this “lesson” he valued and cared for his cards equally, now he saw some as better than others.
He accumulated more cards over Christmas, then his birthday, then another Christmas. His little brother began to form his own card collection as well. Before we knew it there were Pokémon cards everywhere.
The Realization – Take 2
Which brings me to the dining room table and that bowl of cereal. Here’s what I realized: There is a negative correlation between amount owned and how much a item is valued.
When my son owned his first 100 Pokémon cards, they were better accounted for (he knew were they were at all times), better taken care of (rarely left out and most definitely not left discarded on the dining room table), and much more appreciated.
As his card collection grew, he cared about each individual card less and less. His lack of caring resulted in being less responsible with his cards. Even his cards with a greater perceived “value” were less cared for.
I hope that as I minimize my own possessions, I regain a willingness to care for and appreciate the things that I do keep. Because a thing isn’t worth having if it is going to be left discarded in a pile somewhere.