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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Collection Therapy


camellia glory
The rosy glow the camellias lend to my room on a sunny morning seems a fit metaphor for the joy of spring. I open the curtains, and the sun shining through the camellia casts its blush onto the walls and ceiling. What a way to wake up! It’s like being bathed in hope.

Put on your rose-coloured glasses for this week's story, a satire of consumerism.

Collection Therapy

 Bootstrapping: The Self-Help Journal
  (PO Box 15, Wisdem, Saga City 13245)

Staff Memo
To: Morsley Pertwing
From: Byron Bayly, Bootstrapping Editor in Chief etc

Mors, I need a favour. Got this transcript of a phone call from a guy called Bruno offering his story. I think it might be what we're after for our first edition, but I've got to tell you, the guy's no writer. Do you think you could knock it into shape?
            Thanks buddy,

Transcript of phone call from 'Bruno', 12/2/06, 10:45am

Receptionist: Good morning, Bootstrapping: The Self-help Journal, Kara speaking.

Caller: Name's Bruno. 'eard ya wanted stories. Yeah, well I got one. Make ya readers real glad. Ready? [pause] I always liked stuff. Stuff's good f'ya, ya need lots. I didn't have lots before. Ma said it was greedy t'ave too much. Can't 'ave too much. Don't hafta be perfect neither. Any stuff'll do. Like my tennis racquet, see. No 'andle but real nice on toppa my other stuff. Gotta tie it up, or it all falls out, see. An' some people, some people don't respect it neither, so I tie it up so it stays there. Pop said stuff won't make ya happy. Th' ol' codger din't know nothin', did 'e? I'm 'appy. Why not? Don't need frien's nor fancy 'ouse nor edjacation. Na, stuff's good. An' plenty f'rall. Ya should get more. 'ard rubbish'll do ya, an' skips out th'backa shops. Like where I live. Paradise, I call it. Plentya stuff. [pause]Got all that, girly?

Receptionist: Er, yes, I think so, Mr er . . .

Caller: just Bruno. I'll send ya a photo. See ya.

(Phone call ended at 10:47am) 

Bootstrapping: The Self-Help Journal, Autumn 2006, Vol. 1, No. 1, Ego Books, Saga City.

Start collecting . . . and find yourself: Bruno's story

(as told to Morsley Pertwing)

When you look at a recent photograph of me, you might find it difficult to believe that I used to lack the confidence to be myself. I was socially inept, moody and miserable. But I learned a secret which turned my life around. Knowing that many others suffer these problems, I share my secret with you. I am certain your life will be changed forever as you adopt the philosophies of what I call collection therapy.
            Psychologists tell us there are five levels of human need, but the truth is much simpler. We all have biological needs, such as food and shelter, and we all need safety from physical danger. Beyond that, I have discovered, there is just one other factor  which will bring our lives to completion.  But before I tell you the answer,  let's look at the problems you may be having.
            Are you socially isolated? Do you experience palpitations when you talk to strangers? Have you suffered the humiliation of people sneering at you (or worse) when passing you in the street? Or the indignity of your own family forgetting your name, or failing to invite you to important family events? I empathise with you. But do not lose hope there is a solution.
            Many of us build our identity on what others think of us. This never fails to cause problems. We must find a more enduring foundation for life.
            We all know that our emotional and social difficulties typically spring from the patterns of our family life. One of our first baby words gives us a clue to something of utmost importance, and this is the point where almost all families make a huge mistake. It is in our parents' reaction to the word 'mine' where the damage begins.
            If, instead of attempting to turn our children from this natural and necessary urge to claim ownership over things, we encouraged it and gave them more opportunities to express it, I believe we would see a social revolution. No longer would we repress what is natural to all nature. But I am getting ahead of myself.
            My own development was typically thwarted: my parents insisted on us sharing, constantly telling us to be grateful for what we had. Ruinous attitudes! Parents, take note that this way of training has produced a world full of sad, lonely people. I grew up trying to be content with the little I had, trying to win approval by not having much, and shamefully repressing my desire for more. Eventually my lonely, maladjusted life was in tatters. I hit rock bottom.
            My journey to a life of purpose began with the hard rubbish collection. I literally stumbled across my first collection site, and without thinking I took hold of a trolley with one wheel missing and tugged it home with me. Once I had reached my home in the lee of the skip behind the local shops, I realised what I had done. It was a thrilling moment. For what use is a trolley if it's not filled with things? All this time I had been living in the land of plenty and not recognised it. It took some arguing with myself, but after a furious three minutes I was convinced. And I am pleased to say I have never looked back. For I had discovered the secret of my true identity owning stuff.
            The fabulous fact of collection therapy is that there is more than enough stuff for all of us. While it is true that we tend to want certain items more strongly and are tempted to squabble over them as thoughtlessly as seagulls, those who have practised collection therapy for longer and accessed its deep capacity  for substitution can find themselves sublimely satisfied with other people's cast-offs. No matter if they are of no practical use a tennis racquet with no handle, a trolley with no wheels, boxes and bags with holes, torn seams and broken zips, and all of it tied up so tightly that it would take us hours to undo if we could find a use for them it is the mere fact that we own them that provides ultimate satisfaction.
            Owning stuff, practised diligently, will provide fulfilment of all emotional needs, including the need for belonging in relationships, the need for esteem, and the need for self-actualisation. All this can be yours simply by collecting stuff! What could be easier or more natural? No more loneliness, no more depression, no more awkward social contacts, no more fear of rejection.
            If this speaks to you, then stop worrying and start collecting! Your family won't recognise the new you.
            Start collecting, and find the true you today.

Until next week…
Claire Belberg


  1. hi Claire, you are very talented and I enjoy reading your snippets but I must take issue with today's offering. It is a good discussion starter but many have learned that accumulating stuff does not bring happiness or contentment. We were created to have relationship - with our maker and with others and it is only through those relationships that we can find our purpose and be truly happy. Perhaps that was the point you were making.

  2. Exactly! I've now modified the introduction to make the satire clear. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Hi Claire - an interesting analysis. As I was reading, I was thinking you should probably put David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd on your reading list. Cheers.


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