“Gather: To cause to come together; convene.
To accumulate (something) gradually by means.
To collect into one place; assemble
To draw about or bring (one thing) closer to something else
To summon up
To attract or be a center of attraction for”
“a person who gathers; ‘they were a society of hunters and gatherers.’”
I have so many awesome and insightful memories of my late mother-in-law (who was, hands-down, the most passionate and erudite woman I know, someone who just accumulated a database of random, but useful knowledge in her information bank of a brain). One interesting tidbit of info she said (I barely remember the context, but it always struck a chord) that somewhere in her findings, she said physiologists surmise that we still act as hunters ad gatherers even today. Obviously one of the universal and stereotypical complaints of husbands about their wives is that there’s way too much “crap” in the house. Uh . . . DUH! WE GATHER, COLLECT, ORGANIZE (well I hardly do that but I would say most women do) and SAVE. Yes, there’s always exceptions to the rule, but the most part, it’s true.
As my mother-in-law and I brainstormed togther we realized, yes absolutely, we both are obsessed with gathering stuff! She LOVED all cleaning supplies . . . yet she had a cleaning service come every 2 weeks to clean her house. But anytime we went to The Container Store she couldn’t help herself and she would buy all those orange funky sponges or mops that looked like some Sesame Street character designed by some Danish industrial line, and while paying for them at the cash register (and no they weren’t “cheap,”) she would sheepishly grin at me that they were so “pretty.” She also obsessed about shoes – there were 4 closets filled with them. And she was notorious at work for having piles and piles of paper, folders, files, you name it, scattered around her office, but ask her where something was and she would carefully pluck a sheet from the MIDDLE of a 5 ich pile without a blink of an eye and silently hand it to you.
I, on the other hand, am an “artist.” I can’t help but gather as much crap as possible because 3 years later I really will see it as the perfect found Target patterned paper for that art piece so I can’t help it! Not only gathering supplies, I LOVE books and magazines. Obviously, I tell myself, I’m just fulfilling my creative impulse to fill as many drawers, tubs, boxes and sketchbooks as possible with my images that catch my eye for future projects, piles of torn pages from magazines and books. I can’t ever through those away.
But it’s not jut STUFF, it’s other immaterial things too like ideas, information, stuff to research. I LOVE brainstorming sessions. With my mother-in-law, we were the world’s brightest think tank solving all the world’s problems over a mountain cookie and twin Starbucks hot chocolate! She routinely watched the daily morning shows, which we realized too are just a smorgasbord of random info pulled together mainly for . . . a woman’s audience! She also loved reading every Economist issue front and back as much as a good historical novel about Elizabeth the I.
I have amassed (no joke!) I believe over 1,238 bookmarks mostly on art, design, interior design and travel websites in my safari browser alone. I have hundreds of images I collect over the internet from favorite artists I like. I have every single piece of music by Beethoven on at least 1 CD (obviously LOVE classical music), as well as almost every single BBC series from the past 8 years (Classic period drama) on DVD. And I can’t walk by an old bookstore without peaking at anything Celtic or ancient mysteries-related and history, because I love all of that.
Obviously, we gather stuff we are interested in, we like or passionate about. Occasionally we might gather things we think we honestly don’t know why but that’s another thing entirely. When my mother-in-law started a conversation with the comment, “Guess what I read [or heard about] the other day . . .” it would immediately be followed by the knee-jerk reaction, “Oh, here goes mom again. . . ” but always it would end up being a fascinating factoid that she would always bring back into context. And yes, she was shy. But once she got going, she could truly talk TO anyone ABOUT anything (yes – that also meant telling you who she thought would win the NCAA basketball tournie after watching ESPN for two hours.
We both concluded, we do this because we love learning.
I have now concluded that school was pretty boring. It’s AFTER school that you have the freedom and choice to learn anything you want – and that truly becomes AMAZING. And now that we have the internet at our fingertips, we should be the most erudite group of humans on the planet! Well, maybe just women are (my mother-in-law certainly was).
So, women, we have it in our blood, our DNA, and clearly over 100,000 years of evolution behind us, pointing to the inevitable, that we ARE GATHERERS. I embrace this! It must be because we love learning . . . therefore we are smart!
So, I have formally decided to embrace this label. It seems a word that has so much potential for me. The possibilities of gathering and then piecing together to see the bigger picture gives my brain ultimate pleasure. I finally realize it now and stop blaming myself for my compulsive behavior. The more I research the web, the more I’m sincerely blown away by the creative worlds I want to be a part of, the people I would love to connect and meet with someday, the ideas that blow my mind and make me inspired, and the stories that touch my soul.
I am PROUD to be a “gatherer.”