During my 20s, I amassed a huge collection of videogame hardware and software. Multiple rooms were dedicated to housing the collection: hardware from the 70’s and 80’s in one room, 90’s in another, 2000’s in a third. A closet literally overflowing with C64s. A dozen shelves supporting boxes containing esoteric peripherals and accessories: light guns, toy steering wheels, and plastic fishing rods for games that I would never play. A bin of obscure, unlicensed Chinese Gameboy cartridges — mint in box, of course.

The act of collecting blurred the lines between hobby and compulsion, as these things often go. I enjoyed the complexity of both the existing collection and the process of collecting, much in the way that I imagine a spider would take some kind of deep, intrinsic satisfaction in the construction of an especially intricate web. The more it grew, the greater its psychological gravity. It was something to always worry about — what needed to be rearranged to extract as much meaning as possible from it? When traveling out of town, would someone try to steal it?  What was the best way to even try enjoy a collection so large that it would take several lifetimes to play the vast catalogue of titles?

The event horizon was perceptible: what if I just… let it all go? Like a smoker who, deep down, really wants to quit but doesn’t want to just yet — the looming discomfort of withdrawal is a powerful motivator. I needed a reason to shed the mental baggage. Not even a good reason, but just a good enough reason would be fine.

Every now and then, I would recall Shawn Elliott describing on GFW how he did not actually own more than one book at a time, instead giving them away or selling each one after reading. Something about the idea seemed so centered, mature, and… obvious, I suppose. The idea of living simply is a lot more appealing when you’re surrounded by complexity, when it’s a choice that you can make.

Eventually, under complex circumstances, I simplified. Like the newly-committed non-smoker, the air became easier to breathe and the pangs of loss and discomfort faded faster than I expected. For me, simplicity was pretty damn good.

I’ve written a fair amount over the years – posts for various blogs, popular press articles, academic articles, magazine articles, press releases, book chapters, and the like. As many writers may tell you, the writing process is interesting in that, at the end of it, you end up with a grab bag of unresolved or unpursued idea fragments. Just like the old line about how “there are only so many hours in the day,” there are only so many thoughts that can have their threads pulled to see where they lead.

Everyone lays out their first blog post with a motive – their big plans about what they want (or hope) their blog will become, or the classic “I don’t know where this is going yet, but we’ll see if it sticks” schtick, like someone hitting the gym on January 2nd but already doubting their resolve to keep it up.

My motive in this space is to keep things simple. A lot of people write, but I do, too. And I like having a place where I can simply “store” some thoughts from time to time. Nothing profound, nothing to coyly try to boost my career. Just a little space for me to jot down ideas, things of intrigue or inspiration, and so on. Just… moments of writing, notes in the form of digital paper scraps, and other bits and pieces from other projects.

All of the scraps in one place. But, simply.


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