was what my adopted mother said as I stood and stared at two large stacks of comic books in the corner of my room. Each stack was well over two feet tall. DC action comics were in one stack and all others in the other stack, all in chronological order. These were my prized possessions.
From when I was adopted at five years old until I was eight, I lived at an Air Force Base, Grant Heights, in Tokyo. In 1964, we moved to North Carolina and I couldn't take all my possessions with me.
Every week for three years, I had gone to the little base exchange next to the Grant Heights Soda Fountain and bought comic books. I had only spoken Japanese until I was adopted and I learned much of my English from my comic books. Now, I was leaving Japan for the United States. I didn’t want to get rid of my comic books. I remember thinking that if I just went back to live with my Obaachan I could keep my comic books. I didn’t go back and live with my Obaachan.
In 1966, I moved back to Japan. In 1970, I moved back to North Carolina. In 1972, I moved to Virginia at age 15. Each move, I had to leave precious possessions that I had acquired during that stay.
I still feel a little bad about losing my comic books. (Obviously! I’m writing about it 52 years later.) But, ironically, the repeated picking up, moving, and leaving behind has left me with a trait I find convenient. I am more or less detached from material things. Don’t get me wrong. I still like the sound of the UPS guy at my door; I own ten pairs of skis; I have my mother’s Japanese pottery. But, as it happens, I don’t have life energy going into either acquiring or holding onto material things.
This is NOT a life philosophy or moral code.
We often hear “preaching” about “detaching” and “decluttering” as if it is a necessary path to full life. Lots of writings emphasize spending our life energy and money on “experiences” and not material things. People are writing books and blogs about throwing things away. Almost anyone will agree that buying more and more stuff isn’t going to make you happy. But that doesn’t mean that throwing it all away is going to make you magically happy either. If detaching and decluttering makes you happy, go for it. But if throwing away your comic book collection is going to make you unhappy, why would you do that? Why does it have to be one or the other?
I know that I place no serious importance on material things. But that doesn’t mean everyone is that way. If I like something, I keep it. But if I lose something I like, I happen to be fortunate, probably from my life experience, not to lose sleep over it. Maybe that’s a good thing; maybe it isn’t.
TODAY’S HOW TO
Oddly, my blog is about “how to’s” and yet I’ve become cautious these days about trendy “how to’s.” There are lots of lists that suggest that if I do these things, then I’ll be happy. I doubt it. But these lists have a lot of good stuff. So I read them. I find food for thought. I might even try out one or more of the suggestions. But when I read these lists, I see them just as interesting suggestions – not as a valid philosophy nor as “answers.” Because, if the list tells me to throw out my comic books, I might just say “no” this time.