As a child I had over 100 animals in my bedroom. That’s right, one hundred. Half of these were birds that flew freely throughout the room while leaving poop and seed hulls everywhere. My bed seemed to be the primary target for their marksmanship, whilst on the fly. My sheets were never soft, clean, and pleasant while scratching against my bare skin. Another four-dozen mammals came in the form of endlessly breeding gerbils. Let me tell you, when these inevitably escaped into the wider universe of our house—packed to the gills with junk in towers that reached to the ceilings in places—it was a disaster of epic proportions. If I was lucky, an entire afternoon might be devoted to their capture. More commonly, entire days and weeks elapsed as they squirreled themselves away in various nooks and crannies. Rounding out my animal menagerie were some boring reptiles, ravenous piranhas contained in an aquarium as long as a small coffin, and my best friend: a dog.
Only the dog, Curly, became a friend. For all practical purposes, he was the only real pet of the bunch. The others were a burden. Due to their sheer numbers it was impossible to develop any kind of bond with them. Nevertheless, this collection of animals became my method of dealing with mom’s hoarding problem. There was so much activity going on in there! It was a very real distraction.
My daughter, if we allowed her, would collect animals in a similar manner if her desires for MORE went unchecked. Allowing her to indulge in a pair of hamsters has been beneficial, though. Comparing her experience to my own has been rather helpful. I delight in seeing her dote on her pets. Having a small number of them makes this possible.
Grandma and Grandpa paid a visit recently. The wife and I left on a date for a mere hour, and returned to discover that they had ransacked the recycle bin in order to create a remarkably imaginative setting. Boxes, cans, bottles, and odd pieces of cardboard were converted into chairs, a table, a wagon to pull the creature around in, a school, church, home, etc. She had so much fun with this! One hour provided her with more joy than several years of caring for 100+ animals ever did for me. Here you can see Lucy snacking on a tiny salad….
While I already realized that having too much of anything is an impediment to anything resembling gratitude and appreciation, it has been striking for me to see the opposite lived out with my daughter.
The smells that emanated from my childhood bedroom were unimaginable to most of you reading this today. Remarkably, they made the rest of the house smell “fresh” by comparison, even though the effect of opening the front door to the home resembled opening a can of sardines as the gases emanating from rancid putrefaction and mold rushed into the vacuum of the atmosphere.
Limiting the quantity of anything increases its value. This principle applies to economics, possessions, and even life itself. We have just one life to live, etc.
**Book update** The Emancipation of a Buried Man is now available as a paperback on Amazon and with Amazon Europe. Within a few days the Kindle and audiobook formats should be released as well. Patience is a virtue! In Duluth, Minnesota, I’m peddling signed copies by bike.