At one point in my life I was in the business of collecting. If it meant anything at all to me I found a way to add to my endless pile of other items I had accrued over the years. Each item marked a specific period of my life. I have had fascinations with everything from magic to stamp collecting and my basement is evidence of this. I have accumulated so much “stuff” over the years that at first it seems difficult to narrow the important things down to just 4 or 5. However, there are a few things that I could not possibly live without.
The items I’ve chosen are things that have made me who I am, have strengthened my relationship with my family, and remind me of a better time. The items I would include in a memory box consist of my stamp collection, my theatre scrapbook, my favorite book The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and my iPod. All these things, though seemingly random, hold more value to me than any of my other possessions. Among my many hobbies, philately (stamp collecting) was one that had a much different outcome than I had expected. It all started with my aunt Margaret who works for the U. S. Postal Service. She got me into stamps initially, showing me stamps that had come from all over the world. It started out as just a bunch of stamps in a bag that kept growing. This was until I found a store that specialized in stamps located next to my Karate studio (another hobby I took up for about 4 years). This store had everything! They sold books to store stamps, books about stamps, stamps from long ago, and stamps from everywhere you could imagine. Instantly I wanted my stamp collection to resemble this store.
The day I found that store, I bought an album to keep my stamps in, a book about the value of certain stamps, and a big bag of stamps that had not been overlooked yet. Every new stamp I got I would soak it in water to remove the gum on the back and I would neatly add it to my album. Soon I had stamps from Singapore, Canada, England, The Netherlands, various commemorative stamps from the U. S. , and many other places. I later realized that this collection was turning into something bigger than I had imagined.
It was at this point that my mother told me that my grandmother used to collect stamps herself, and that she probably had many that she could contribute to my collection. So, the next day I went to my grandmother and sure enough she still had her entire collection of stamps. We would spend hours talking about her stamps; where they came from, and where she was in her life when she collected them. I had not realized up to this point in my life that my grandmother and I had quite a bit in common with each other. We were both very artistic and loved to hold on to things.
Every time I saw her after that, she would have a new envelope filled with stamps for me. Now I had my aunt bringing me stamps from around the world, in addition to my grandmother giving me stamps with historical value. My dream was finally becoming a reality; my collection began to remind me of that stamp store that inspired me. However, I began to grasp that this stamp collection was about more than having the most valuable stamps. It now represented the loving family I had, and the connection between me and my grandmother.
To this day, we share stories of our stamps, and our relationship couldn’t be any stronger. My theatre scrapbook is another item that continues to grow each day. I first took an interest in theatre during my sophomore year in high school. It all began with my first performance in the play The Curious Savage. My grandmother came to one of the performances of the show and as is her nature, she took countless photos. Pictures of the cast, each individual cast member, the director, and even the tech crew that worked backstage.
I thought this was embarrassing at first, but learned to enjoy it as I participated in later shows. During the same year as my first performance my grandmother presented me with an album of all the photos she had taken. This was a pleasant surprised that started a trend. After every new show, my grandma would send me all the pictures she took and I’d add it to the album along with the show’s playbill and a ticket. Currently there are quite a few tickets from Broadway and local theatre productions, most of which are no longer playing. The price of each of my tickets totaled, $450 (Broadway).
The West Side Story and Sweeney Todd are no longer on Broadway so these would be impossible to replace; however, Wicked and Avenue Q are still playing on Broadway. All of the high school theatre performance pictures in the scrapbook are obviously irreplaceable, which is without a doubt the reason for their inclusion in the memory box. As I began to take acting more seriously, I went to see other shows on Broadway and at local theatres. I acted at school, at church, and in community theatre. Throughout this entire process I would collect ticket stubs and playbills and add them to my album.
I soon had tickets from shows like West Side Story and Sweeney Todd from Broadway and playbills from Holes and South Pacific from community theatre. This album began to define me and represented my growing passion for theatre. I never thought I’d be able to say that a book changed my life, but my next item definitely has. That’s why the next item I would not be able to abandon would be The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It’s a highly philosophical novel about an individualistic young architect, Howard Roark, who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.
This book came into my life fairly recently, but I feel as if it came at just the right time. I’m at the point in life when I’m trying to decide on what path to take towards a career and this book centers around a theme of what the author calls objectivism; essentially that the moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest. This idea really led me to pursue what it was that I want to do, as well as inspire me to stick with it even when things get difficult. I read it again and again, and I always seem to find something new that I didn’t notice before; like a new idea or theme.
I could really relate to this book because I always saw myself as an individualist. I have always been one to find my own way and this book really spoke to that. This book is still very popular and readily available in most bookstores. The Fountainhead is valued at about $25. 00 (Borders Books). It was written in 1943, so it’s most likely available for even cheaper than that. It is the life-changing story, however, that makes this novel not only priceless but timeless as well. Though it seems a bit out of place against the rest of the items I would include, my last item would be my iPod.
Music has always been a large part of my life. I started playing the piano when I was four and I’ve also picked up the drums and bass guitar along the way. I’ve always had an interest in music of every genre and could not imagine a world without it. My iPod contains artists from Led Zeppelin to Wu-Tang Clan. Part of what makes music what it is, is its diversity. There seems to be a different song for every mood, emotion, or life event. It is the embodiment of human emotion, the quintessence of life in general. My iPod would be fairly easy to replace, and they are cheaper now than perhaps they’ve ever been.
A brand new 160 Gigabyte iPod Classic costs $250. 00 (Apple). This is the same price as when I bought mine 2 years ago. This does not, however account for the value of all the music on it. This would be a lot more difficult to put a price on. However, if I multiplied all my songs by ?99 (the average price of a song on iTunes) then they would be worth about $5,113. 00, not to mention the priceless sentimental value they hold to me. So though it would be pretty easy to replace the iPod, the music on it would be extremely difficult to replace financially and sentimentally. Each of these items have certainly defined who I am.
They have instilled in me different values and strengthened my confidence along with my familial relationship. My scrapbook, along with being a great hobby, became an outlet for a personal connection that many only dream of. My theatre scrapbook reminds me of a time that allowed me to express myself and grow strong and confident. The Fountainhead gave me strength for the future, and narrowed my focus on life. My iPod holds the key to connecting with my favorite art form. I could not imagine a world in which these things were not in my life. Without them I would definitely not be the person I am today.