Unopened, Collecting Dust

How my collections of action figures consumed me until I discovered minimalism

Words by Nicholas Hallows

From the time I was old enough to earn money to the time I discovered minimalism, I was a collector.

I always had to “complete” the collection, whether that was the back catalogues of my favorite bands or the latest series of collectible models.

But it was action figures—toys, if you must—that I really consumed, or should I say, that consumed me.

Every time a new range of Star Wars figurines was released, I had to have them. With each new Lord of the Rings movie, I had to have all the accompanying figures. This was tangible proof of my fandom.

I must have also believed that when my collection was complete, I’d be complete and happiness would surely follow.

Of course, as soon as one collection is finished, a new one is started. As with everything, happiness is not a destination.

I couldn’t begin to tell you how much I spent on these things. Even though I was still living at home and had no expenses, I never saved much money.

For a short time, my collections adorned my bedroom walls, hanging up with pins, forming a border around the ceiling. Unopened and collecting dust.

After a while, I got bored of them and they were moved to the attic. There they stayed for nearly two decades. Unopened and collecting dust.

I told myself it was worth hanging onto them because one day they’d be worth a lot of money, right?

But how long was I willing to wait for that day to come? Would I always find an excuse to cling onto them a little longer?

I was beginning to feel burdened by my collections but couldn’t really articulate why, and couldn’t imagine letting go of them. After all, they’d taken so much time and money to complete.

Wouldn’t getting rid of them just signify that I’d wasted these precious resources?

Then I discovered minimalism.

I finally had the language needed to understand that I didn’t own these things but that they owned me.

Hearing that life could be better with less, I had the motivation to let go of these things without having to worry if I was selling them at the peak of their value. That didn’t matter anymore.

What did matter was that I was letting go of them so that I could add value to my own life by making space for more meaningful pursuits. I was at peace with the sunk cost.

So, I painstakingly photographed each individual toy and listed them on eBay. A great thing about selling online is you’ll always have photos of your things if you want to reminisce.

For reasons I’ll never understand, my Jar Jar Binks figures sold first.

After a couple of months, I’d sold a lot but still had a mountain of toys clogging up the hallway of our small apartment.

Rather than wait indefinitely for them to slowly sell one by one, I donated them all to the local children’s hospital.

Now, whenever I walk past the building, I smile knowing that, rather than unopened and collecting dust, the toys are opened and being enjoyed by the children inside.

Surely that’s worth far more than the monetary value of each plastic action figure.

Nicholas Hallows

Nicholas writes at Escaping Excess, a blog about minimalism, mindfulness, and veganism. He was once a primary school teacher who specialized in language and literacy, and he is a certified proofreader and editor. Nicholas is from the UK but now lives in Kuala Lumpur, where he spends his time writing, running, and sweating.

Website
Escaping Excess
Twitter
@NicholasHallows

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