[Downsizing Zeal] Need For Trophies

Mementos were probably once the prizes of accomplishing major achievements, like killing a sabertooth, but now manifest in having gone to cool parts of town like a new thrift store to get some neat-looking junk. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just important to recognize what it is: a trap. It’s OK to buy new things, but when we don’t recognize them as having been such trophies, we might subconsciously want to keep them longer…

We should only keep trophies for things we’ve earned.

Everything else, even if there’s a cool story along with them – like I can write about for many things around me now – are only somewhat useful. I think it’s better to realize when we own the things we do because they represent these sorts of stories we tell ourselves about the lives we’ve lived. When I learned this innate need of mine to have trophies, that’s part of why I started writing daily, besides the actual pragmatic reason that the more I write, the better I get.

I wrote “Four Thrifts’s Drop-Offs” earlier today to capture the trophies of that drive.

If not, years back, I might have been compelled to look through the trash that people had dropped off to throw the story I wrote into it. That’s not the duty of any object. It’s nice when we own things that can remind us of “the good times” or can inspire us, but they really are just objective objects. A book isn’t more than paper and ink, yet we assign value to it based on what ink is printed in what order to that paper, or when we acquired that book, and how.

Same for everything else we own.

If we can decide we like the object for myriad reasons, then that’s all the more reason to keep it. If it’s just one reason, like say I got the CD at the show, then it’s not worthwhile. If I got it autographed, even, that’s not a great excuse to hang onto something if you don’t like it. I own a few CDs I’ve got autographed that I wouldn’t say I hate, but I don’t love them either. When it’s their time to go, then I’ll probably take the booklets with the autographs, photograph them or keep them separately, and get rid of the rest.

Those will be some of the last to go, though.

The trophies I need to part ways with first are the ones that don’t mean much to me anymore, or represent times and places that don’t benefit me from thinking about much anymore. I was just telling someone about some work experiences I had. Now that I’m older, I can realize how jaded I am toward things that had happened then that probably shaped me into the person I am today. I think about those bifurcations and how if life had been different, where I would be now, and then I realize that I do that sometimes when it comes to my fiction.

Sammohini represents that version of myself that didn’t get laid off all those years ago.

Having some of those specific scenarios of mine that I experienced might represent trophies that I overcame that maybe she doesn’t, but all that is just speculative fiction, rather than the type of work I want to do, which is getting into the heads of characters and seeing how they tick, or writing about things that might help others if they help me. Thinking through some of those scenes, whether I won or lost them, could be helpful for others, but only if they’re realistic to the stories they’re in. Otherwise, they make for worthwhile anecdotes to say to friends, colleagues, or strangers online.

“That just means you had solid work ethic tho[1]”

That might be our innate need for trophies. I was telling a colleague about some of my experiences when he told me that quote above. Trophies aren’t always physical objects. We may want them to be for the proof that they had happened to us, and that we overcame them, but generally, a reasonable statement can be assumably believed without the evidence of a trophy. I’ve met plenty of musicians over the years. Most aren’t the biggest-name acts around, so the evidence required to say that I met someone like that is relatively low. You might have even met them by mistake…

It’s the value we assign to those meetings and meanings that matter.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many high-profile people, in their bubbles of industry. Outside of them, they’re just normal people. That’s the same as many of the trophies we acquire. I might be able to impress certain people within my vocation for having done this or that, but really, outside of that it doesn’t mean much to a broader community. So then the question becomes, do you have the trophies to impress others or remind yourself? If it’s to impress others, you’re not going to impress everyone. If it’s to remind yourself of certain achievements, that’s more admirable.

Steam achievements can be fixed, so it’s only if the game is good that it should count for you.

I cheated my way through VVVVVV and Celeste, because they have game modes that enable you to do so without disabling their trophies, so did I earn those trophies? No. I wish I didn’t earn them, but they will sit, forever, on my account. I have no easy way of removing them, so they aren’t trophies at all, but blights on my name. Those are examples of trophies that we shouldn’t feel prideful in possessing, but some of us do anyways. This is all opinion, however. I may not like having had those achievements, but others might be fine with it. It’s all dependent on how you feel. If these thoughts weigh you down, however, you should consider your thoughts on these matters.

If that 3rd Grade Spelling Bee trophy represents something special, put it on your mantlepiece!

Quotes: [1] A colleague of mine.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: I was talking by phone with an acquaintance that helped me clear out the space in my apartment-mansion, when I brought up this example based on a CD I was looking at while talking on the phone.
Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.
Picture: Template picture because it’s easier.
Written On: 2020 April 12 [From 5:05am to “we might subconsciously want to keep them longer” at 5:07am. From 5:19am to “If we can decide we like the object for myriad reasons, then” at 5:28am. From 5:49am to “If I got it autographed, even” at 5:49am. From 5:52am to “but I don’t love them either” at 5:53am. From 5:58am to “and get rid of the rest” at 5:58am. From 6am to “Those will be some of the last to go, though” at 6:02am. From 6:10am to 6:36am. Gdocs.]
Last Edited: 2020 April 15 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.