I like to say I've been collecting baseball memorabilia since I was eight years old, but quite frankly, I don't remember where I came up with that number. That would have been in 1985, two years before I started collecting baseball cards and two years after my family moved to Ohio. I have my ticket to my first Reds game in San Diego in 1978, but I was a year old and can truthfully say I was not the one who made the conscious effort to save the ticket stub. I also have the "Pete's Back!" Shirt my grandfather gave to my sisters and I when Rose returned to Cincinnati in 1984. So I must have made the number up.
It might have been the year when I decided I wanted to own a Reds-themed restaurant, however. I've wanted to do that for a looooong time, although as I grew older, it changed into a sports bar. I've already created the menu - one appetizer, entree, and desert and one beer on tap from every Major League city - and I've drawn sketches of the place, complete with where certain pieces of memorabilia go. I've even designed a lounge area with couches and bookshelves full of my baseball books. It's a marvelous place, really.
But now I have doubts. They stem from an increasing gravitation to asceticism and a rejection of material things. True freedom is freedom from possessions, freedom from mortgages and debt, freedom from worrying about people stealing your things or natural disasters destroying them. True freedom is the ability to go anywhere and not have to make arrangements to have your stuff watched or stored. It is also not having to throw your life away and enslave yourself in a cubicle just to afford your lifestyle.
The global economic downturn has produced some wonderful stories of Americans rediscovering their souls after years of thinking they had to buy this or that, from tales of family picnics in city parks instead of wasted hours over video game systems to families who sold their oversized houses and their possessions to travel the world together. While so many Americans are angry because they can no longer afford to be irresponsible in their spending, these inspiring tales of transformed outlooks on life are a welcome relief from the chains of materialism that have incarcerated the planet, leading to wars over resources, terrorism, and so much death and destruction.
I still have things stored in Ohio, and I will have to deal with it when I get a chance. There are boxes of clothes, books, CDs, and the things I've hoarded from my travels that I have been easily living without for two years. Most of my boxes, however, are full of the baseball memorabilia I have spent years collecting. I'm sure I could get a sizable chunk of change for it all, but I am clinging to it, because maybe one day the desire to open the place will return. After all, the whole point of the bar is to provide a place where people can have a good time and enjoy the game they love and all the pleasure and nostalgia that comes with it, and really, that's what I want for everyone in life.
I've packed up two large suitcases and am going on a long trip. The suitcases contain clothes, books, and not much else. I'll also have a backpack with a laptop, Blackberry, and camera on my back, necessary tools for survival. (And how else will I be able to keep up on the Hot Stove happenings and watch the press conference when Votto gets his MVP award?) Life is so simple. It's amazing to me that people kill each other over crap they don't need (or let their politicians decide to do the killing so they can buy crap they don't need.)