This week I sifted through 30,000 cards, carefully picking out foils, bulk rares, and playable commons/uncommons before placing the unwieldy stacks into white cardboard boxes. I have a dealer friend who will stop by and pick up the boxes, offering up $3 for each one. I’ll be up $90 and down 120 pounds of Magic cards that had previously monopolized the shelves in my bedroom bookcase. Though I haven’t physically hefted the enormous weight of the boxes since moving two years ago, I feel lighter knowing they are gone.

My roommates ask me about the cardboard fleet that has overtaken the dining room table and I tell them the deal about selling the cards. One of them asks me, “But wait, don’t you need them? To build decks?” I don’t of course. The fifty Peema Outriders I’ve accumulated from Kaladesh drafts, the bulk commons of Dragon’s Maze and Born of the Gods, the endless token and tip cards, and all of the post-Eighth Edition basic lands I have will never know what it’s like to be sleeved again. Why did I have them in the first place?

The easy answer is that after investing an embarrassing amount of time and money into this game, I wanted to have something to show for it. Yeah, I had decks, a million goddamn playmats, and a binder, but having all of those white boxes stacked neatly on top on each other was personally validating. It was a sign of my dedication. Furthermore, I wanted to be ready in case something happened to make the piles of bulk relevant again. If someone needed cards for a cube, I could give them my extras. If Frontier becomes an actual format, then maybe some of the Khans chaff I have might be necessary. In any case, I don’t want have to buy Treasure Cruises when I have them put away in a box somewhere. I like having things just in case.

The problem with the “just in case” mentality is that after accumulating enough stuff, the act of physically locating things should they become needed becomes a chore. The utility of having things around is lost if you can’t find the thing you’re looking for. I remember looking for Wear/Tear a while back, and couldn’t find them in the Dragon’s Maze box, so I checked a binder where I put Modern playables. No luck. I ended up finding them a half hour later in a box labeled “to be sorted.” I found them but at the cost of a half hour of my life. I take issue with Benjamin Franklin’s notion that “time is money” (hit me up if you want to talk Marx) but at the same point, it’s hard to argue that my time couldn’t have been better spent.

I imagine some folks reading this could view the lack of utility of owning stacks of cards and blame it on my inability to organize rather than the actual number of cards. This is probably a fair assertion. If I spent more time up front initially organizing things, it would certainly be easier to find cards when I needed them. There are probably some reasonable articles about organizing and maintaining a collection, but I wanted to write this to address something else entirely. I wanted to talk about hoarding.

When I went home for Christmas, I found that my parents house had been taken over by boxes. Plastic boxes, cardboard boxes, baskets, tupperware. They littered the kitchen table, sat in uneven stacks on the walls, some self contained, and others with their contents spilling out onto nearby chairs and shelves. The bedrooms my middle brother and I had occupied were overtaken entirely with childhood toys, with paper that had molded from humidity, with hospital equipment, and broken furniture. We worried my brother’s cat would get lost amidst the chaos.

This is not meant to be an indictment of my parents who are great people and spend most of their time working and helping others. Nor is it meant to paint a grotesque picture of my childhood home; there are no dead animals, no garbage, no items that have completely outlived their usefulness. Should anyone break both legs there is a wheelchair in very nice condition in the living room. What I’m trying to say is that when I was home, I was bummed out. I felt overwhelmed by the things surrounding me. Nothing seemed to be in the right place and everything appeared to be encroaching on the living space, slowly swallowing up the floors.

I was relieved to leave but distressed to return to my apartment to realize that I’m not that different. I have stacks of comics on top of my bureau, a closet door that won’t close because of the heaps of clothes, drawers full of mail that never quite make it to the shredder. And then there was the 40,000 Magic cards.

Getting rid of the bulk of my collection is the first step in a larger process to simplify my life. I want to make it easier to find the stuff I care about and to be less encumbered by the mammoth weight of my collections and hobbies. I want to rest easy knowing that I have what I need and not worry about the mostly useless stuff that fills up my room.

I feel 120 pounds lighter.

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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