Tuesday, February 12, 2013
State of gray
I was pondering what to write about tonight when I decided to address something that's been rattling around in my head for weeks.
I do a lot of self-evaluating in life. I am constantly re-examining decisions, plotting courses, setting up plans of action, and, yes, second-guessing myself. This is a personality trait that, for the most part, has served me well in life. Thanks to it, I've had a lot of stability in my life and I don't experience the upheaval that I see with endless people around me -- a lot of people who don't take a moment to observe what they're doing.
I also do a lot of evaluating outside of myself. I observe what's going on in life. I observe others. It's interesting to me how people can always land on one side of a topic and never another. Pick a topic and they're always on the right or the left, pro or con, fan boy or troll.
I'm not like that. I can usually see and understand both sides of an argument on almost any topic. I may have an opinion about which side I like better, but I usually can be somewhat understanding about the side that I don't prefer. For others, it's either black or white. For me, it's perpetually gray. Always a state of gray.
Being "a state of gray" person has its bad side though. It gets a bad rap from a lot of people. While I look at it as evaluating, others call it "navel-gazing" or "wallowing" or "hand-ringing." "State of gray" people are "hesitant," "unwilling to take a chance," and "boring." And, it's true, it can get a little bit much. If you spend too much time observing what you or others are doing -- checking and rechecking -- you will never get anywhere with anything.
In fact, I have been lectured in the comments several times for my "state of gray" behavior when it comes to collecting. Should I collect modern cards or shouldn't I? Do I like Topps or don't I? Do I want to collect parallels or not?
What is it, man? Make up your mind!!!
I will ... when I'm done evaluating. On my own time. In my own way. Don't rush me.
The truth is, I've spent a lot of time lately examining what I really DO feel about various topics in the hobby, and whether I'm merely constantly contradicting myself.
Let's take the parallel argument as an example.
I received a handful of colored parallels from Baseball Dad's All Tribe Baseball recently. The purple A.J. Ellis card up top was the highlight because I think Baseball Dad is the only person who can find a Toys 'R' Us. I end up with one purple parallel a year and it usually comes from him.
Some people get furious over the purple parallels -- "we have RED and BLUE and GOLD parallels and now they're putting PURPLE parallels in a store that I never go to and jack up the price on them, TOO???? Screw that! Screw Topps! Screw everybody!"
But I can see their argument. If you are a traditional team collector who wants to collect all of your team's cards and there are all these parallels to chase, it gets frustrating. And if you are a set collector, who just wants regular base cards, and these parallels get in the way, it gets frustrating, too.
I can see that.
But I also can see the other side.
The parallels are very cool -- especially in this year's set. They are colorful with the contrasting colors on the design (some would call them ugly, of course). I find them very appealing, and if I was in a less stable state, I might try to collect them all.
So that's where I am. I can see one side of the argument. I can see the other. "State of Gray." In the middle. Again.
And that's where the evaluating comes in.
This is what I do to try to come up with some sort of compromise between the two opposing views of "DEATH TO PARALLELS, DIE TOPPS DIE" and "LONG LIVE PARALLELS, TAKE ALL MY MONEY PLEASE."
I collect as many parallels as my budget will allow, admire the pretty colors, and don't sweat that I didn't get them all. I never get them all, what's the big deal? They're still pretty, right?
And if I'm collecting the base set, I don't get all bunched up about how these two parallels in my packs could have been two more base cards. Yes, I suppose it might cost you a few more cents to complete the set, but it's really nothing to get an ulcer over. The parallels aren't ever going away. It's not like it's a super short-print anyway.
This is the plan with which I can live.
But it's taken me a long time to get to this plan. I am sure you can find past posts on this blog in which I rail at parallels and other posts in which I want to collect them all. I had to do a fair amount of going back and forth and back and forth to settle on a plan.
This blog is filled with self-examination and self-evaluation. I flip-flop about stuff here all the time, just as I do in real life.
So I can't worry about whether I'm contradicting myself, or worry whether I am "hand wringing" about the state of my collection. It's merely a process.
I'm just working stuff out. It's not about black and white. I'll never be a hard-charging, jump-right-into-it, first-in-line, top-of-the-mountain, to-hell-with-all-of-you-and-yay-me kind of guy. I will always hesitate, evaluate, come up with a plan ... and maybe write about the process, too.
It's called introspection.
It works for me -- even when I'm questioning myself about whether it works at all.