Monday, May 20, 2013

Everyone changes

I read this interesting story in the newspaper the other day. Yes, the newspaper. They still make those things you know. They're quite enlightening.

The story was about something called the "end of history illusion." It's a reference to our selves and how we recognize how much we have changed as individuals over the years, but underestimate how much we will change in the future.

It said that we do this because we look at ourselves as fully evolved people. At the top of our game. We believe we are no longer changing. We have our likes and dislikes, interests and disinterests and they are there to stay.

This view of ourselves is particularly noticeable in teenagers, as grown-ups look at teens' behavior and think or say, "you'll think differently in 10 years" but the teenager doesn't see it that way.

But adults do the same thing. It helps explain why people marry the wrong people or take the wrong job. They can't see themselves as different people 10 years from now. The part of the article that struck me was when the psychologist who did the study looked at his vast collection of compact discs that he never listened to anymore and said, "I was certain I'd listen to Miles Davis until the day I died."

I immediately thought of my CD collection. And then I turned and looked at them. Just sitting there. Unused. I thought I would treasure those songs for the rest of my life. I spent a lot of money on hundreds of CDs.

My god, I thought, I do it, too.

The thought of spending all of that cash on something I don't use anymore bothered me.

Then the article mentioned that word: "hobbies."

As in, "you're not going to like the same hobbies that you did 10 years ago." Or, more disturbingly, "you're not going to like the same hobbies 10 years from now."

"Like hell," was my instant reaction. "Does the 10-years-older me know how much I've spent on Clayton Kershaw cards?"

But I also knew that I couldn't guarantee that in 2023 I would still be collecting Kershaw cards or even collecting cards.

To illustrate, all I have to do is think back to 2003.

In 2003, I bought maybe 6 or 7 packs of Topps because it was what I did every year as a rite of spring. Since 1994 or so, I had grabbed a few packs when I stumbled across them in the store or the mall and that would be the end. No more pack purchases, no more thoughts about cards period, until the next year came around and "oh, that's right, the new cards are out. Let's see what they've got this year. How amusing. Do people really still collect these things?"

I didn't care about the hobby at all. It was something that was part of my past. I was more fully evolved now.  I knew what I wanted and it wasn't cards.

Hundreds of sets came and went between 1994 and 2003 and I didn't know any of them existed.

And then the calendar turned to 2004 and I changed.

I ran into somebody at work who collected cards. Older cards from the years when I was a kid. Then I met someone else at work who also collected older cards. And they told me about a place in town that sold older cards. Before I knew it, I was trying to complete the first set I ever bought, back in 1975.

I was back to doing something I thought I had left behind forever.

Today, 10 years later, I am as immersed in collecting as you can be in 2013. I write about cards, I tweet about cards. I collect them, I trade them all over the country and all over the world. I've gone back through those years when I didn't collect cards, looked at myself with condescending pity ("you stupid card-less teenager"), and acquired literally thousands of cards from the period when I wasn't collecting at all.

I have been operating the last few years now as someone who believes that this is the way it will be for good. I buy cards, I trade cards, I write about cards. Isn't life wonderful? I'm at the end of history.

But I'm told it could all be an illusion.

The calendar could change to 2014 and suddenly I don't care.

Suddenly I'm trying to recoup the cash I spent, or have found a new passion in accumulating seat cushions, or am living in the Yukon where I can't get internet service.

Yeah, it's highly unlikely.

But if you told me 10 years ago that I would be doing what I am doing right now, I would say:

"What's a Twitter? What's a blog? You mean they're still doing that gold foil stuff with cards?"

This is all rather unnerving and not something I want to dwell on very much.

I like to think of myself as a very consistent person. My preferences in food, ideas, friends, places to live, etc., stay the same. But perhaps I'm just fooling myself like the teenager who thinks they will die if they can't design video games for a living.

I think this is the reason that I get disturbed when blogs I like disappear or when people say they're done with the hobby and move on.

I rationalize and say "things change," but I like the way things are now. I like what I'm interested in now. I think it's great and I don't want it to change. I'm fully evolved dammit. You should be, too. Because if you're not, maybe I'm not either.

There's a line in Season 3 of Mad Men (sorry for the dated reference, I'm trying to catch up), where the daughter is trying to convince her dad to buy a Halloween costume at the store that her dad says she's only going to wear for one day.

"But I'll always like Minnie Mouse," she says.

We smile and laugh knowingly. "Kids," we say.

But it's the adults, too.

Everyone changes.


(Cards supplied by a PWE from JediJeff)


  1. You mean I might not always collect cards fo guys on the phone? The hell you say.

  2. I think our hobbies are another thing will evolve thanks to the Internet. Before the net, we were limited to only others in our immediate vicinity that shared our hobby and thus boredom would come much more quickly. Now with the Internet, as you mentioned you can trade cards all across the country and the world.

    I will use myself as an example. My latest financial crisis has left me without funds for cards for the time being. In the old days, I would have probably packed up my collection and forgotten about it. However, now I can read the blogs or keep up with what the new cards look like without having to purchase them, keeping me informed and in the loop.

    Just a thought.

  3. Glad I'm not the only one who spent countless hours in record stores and an insane amount of money (that could have been used for baseball cards!) on CDs. They now sit in boxes in the garage, and have for nearly a decade. But I HAD to have them at the time.

  4. Interesting, though I don't know. Maybe that's cuz I'm in denial. But I see more "cycle", though, than change. I have always loved Star Wars, though I haven't always read Star Wars books. I'm not reading them now, but I've read them on and off for 20 years. Sort of like cards. Would be interesting to see what 10 years from now "me" is like, though!