Letting go is hard

Filed under Hacks & mods;

In the Vintage Computer Forums, a thread was started last week entitled "Letting go of a collection is hard". The author, who joined the site for the purpose of sharing his plight, wrote:

I’ve finally decided to sell my large collection of Apple II clones. It’s a big step for me but it needs to happen. So today, I began testing and photographing the systems and writing the formal listings for eBay. Ugh. This is depressing! I knew it would be hard but geez. I didn’t expect to feel so sad about it. The odd part is that I haven’t even seen these computers (out of the box) in at least 10 years so why should I feel so sentimental about them? I don’t know but I’m not enjoying letting go.

As a collector and historian, I enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. I also enjoyed taking each system apart, cleaning the grunge off, and restoring them to working order. I would try to discover whatever I could about the companies who made these computers and whenever possible, I made contact with the actual people who helped design them. I cultivated friendships with fellow vintage computer collectors and spent hundreds of hours building a website about what I had found. So in many ways, it’s not just a bunch of old computer junk that selling, it’s more like I’m letting go of a part of my life that I thoroughly enjoyed at one time. Letting go of these systems IS the right thing for me to do, but it’s not a pleasant experience at all.

Ernest didn’t detail why he’s getting rid of the machines: is it a financial matter? Is he downsizing his house? Has a significant other dictated, "That old junk has to go"? All these reasons are more or less valid, and as someone who recently moved for the first time in ten years, I can appreciate the desire to have less "stuff" to truck around. But it’s also hard to know what the future will hold. After I decommissioned my dial-up BBS in 1997, my Apple IIGS sat unused for more than a decade. It was only three years ago that I dusted it off and booted it back up, adding a physical component to the emulation I’d relied on in the meantime. Having that machine back up and running serves many purposes: it’s a point of pride, a necessary aspect to a file transfer setup, and a workplace conversation piece.

And, as with Ernest, the Apple II is a touchstone. It represents and parallels the course of my life, reminding me where I come from, what I do, and why I do it. To lose the Apple II would not rip those qualities from my heart, but it would make me infinitely sadder to not have a physical reality that mirrors what I know and feel inside. I’m glad to know I won’t need to experience that disconnect anytime soon.

Have you ever had to get rid of once precious inventory? What made you do it, and how did you feel? Have you ever regretted it?

  1. I did indeed have to learn this, and wrote up my thoughts here: http://trixter.oldskool.org/2009/03/16/learning-to-let-go/

    I still have quite a collection, but I find that letting things go is much easier if you document everything you cherish and treasure about the item first.

  2. I have an 800+ DVD collection taking up an entire massive closet in my house. It’s completely wasted space I could totally use, and I’ve maybe looked for something twice in the 4+ years I’ve lived here.

    Yet I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. I have all the movies I’ll ever want streaming online, and frankly I’m a movie snob who wouldn’t be caught dead watching a DVD instead of a blu ray of a movie I love. What’s wrong with me?

  3. I recently posted a not-very-well written blog entry about my desire to pare down my collection. I haven’t really found the motivation to make it happen yet, but I’m sure I will experience some regret once I do begin to get rid of my Apple II’s.

    I once fixed up an Apple III and sold it on eBay, something to this day, I wish I hadn’t done.