In the process of drinking coffee, I’ve accumulated a lot of coffee mugs. People walk into my office. They look at the mugs on the shelves, on my desk, on the file cabinet. They say, “do you collect coffee mugs?” I say, “No, I accumulate them.”
Coffee Mug Collectors have grounds for confidence.
If I were a collector, I would keep track of my mugs. If I were a collector, I would know their value. I would pick a particular style. I would make sure I had one of every color, or style, or brand. I would gather all the different kinds of Starbucks mugs, for example. I would track the value on coffeemugvalue.info, if such a place existed. Or, if I really cared, I would start a blog at coffeemugvalue.info that I could use to help other people figure out the value of their coffee mugs. And I would turn it into a whole side business.
On the other hand, as an accumulator, I pick them up wherever. I am not discriminating about where they come from. I certainly don’t worry much about how neatly I keep them, whether I wash them. I am very willing to use them even if it means the lettering wears off.
Collectors have purpose
The difference between the two may be a difference in intentionality. For the collector, there is a point to the collection, and there is a pursuit of that point. For an accumulator, there is no point. A collector has discernment. An accumulator has none. A collector, particularly a serious collector, will ignore many replicas, many impostors, many duplicates, for the sake of the next piece in the collection. An accumulator will take whatever comes, whatever holds coffee. Or an accumulator will not pay attention to the many important coffee mugs going by.
I started thinking about about reading. Or about thinking. Or about writing. Or about wisdom. Or about understanding. Or about quality relationships. Or about anything else that matters.
I realized that I can read as an accumulator, just looking at whatever words come by my face. I can write as an accumulator, scattering words wherever. I can accumulate understanding as I wander along.
Or I could, I suppose, learn with the focus that a collector collects.
- I could decide that I want to understand how the book of Matthew helps people follow Jesus or how world class performers become world class or how to be a life-long learner or ______________.
- I could catalog what I know.
- I could decide what pieces are missing from the collection of understanding in my head (and heart)
- I could look for the people who know what is missing and ask them for help with knowing how to discern.
- I could read books that help.
- I could stop reading them when they don’t have what I thought they had.
- I could write posts that raise questions that other people could answer.
- I could ignore magazines that have nothing to do with what I’m trying to understand.
- I could regularly admit that I don’t understand.
- I could sell the things that don’t matter, that clutter my attention.
- I could write summaries of what is known so far to help other people focus their efforts on what is not known.
- I could step back and think carefully about what really matters. And then take that next step. And then step back again.
- I could decide.
Or, I could just keep accumulating.