Laying in the grass in our front yard last night, Paul and I were chatting about his 9th birthday. His birthday turned out great. Since his party is this weekend we just did the family thing on his actual birthday. After dinner, he blew out the candles on his birthday cake and opened his presents. He was surprised and smiling and happy.
At some point in the conversation I asked Kristen if she remembered what she got for her 9th birthday, 27 years ago. She didn’t remember.
Then I thought about that question for myself.
June 2nd, 1985
It dawned on me. On June 2nd, 1985, I got baseball cards for my 9th birthday.
I was into baseball cards as a kid. I saved all of my money to buy great big boxes of them at the comic book store in downtown Mishawaka, Indiana. I would open each pack in the box and categorize each card by team before cataloging them in a great, big box. I’d take the best cards and put them into a folder. Sometimes I traded them but mostly I just held onto them.
And on my birthday for a couple of years I got a full set of Topps baseball cards. I had full sets from 1984 – 1988.
And I still have all of them. I still have full sets from 1984 – 1988. I still have my precious binder from when I was a kid. And I still have that box of carefully categorized cards, complete with my 9 year old handwriting of each teams name.
Why do I still have them? Because I still believe a lie about baseball cards.
I believe that one day they will have value again. And that belief has lead me to hold onto them for 27 years.
They moved to Germany and back with me in 1992. They went to college with me in 1994. They’ve moved with Kristen and I several times in my married life. Three times I have paid to put them in a a moving truck and shipped them across the country just so they could sit in my garage again.
And all of it goes back to a single conversation I had with my dad when I was a kid. He said his mom had sold his baseball cards at a garage sale and he wished he still had them, they were worth some money.
My dad didn’t lie to me. He was telling the truth. But it was me that convinced myself that I could never depart with these things.
Trust me, Don Mattingly’s rookie card will never have the same value as Mickey Mantle’s. In fact, of the thousands of cards I have I’m positive that none of them are worth more than $5 individually.
So why do I keep them? Why don’t I just toss them out or put them on Craigslist? Why don’t I just give them to Paul & Jackson to play with?
Because I believe a lie that one day I’ll need them. I believe that one day, if I don’t have them, they will be worth a lot of money and I’ll be sad that I didn’t listen to my dad.
That lie defies logic because I believe it.
More than baseball cards…
I’m a smart guy. I make good decisions. And I still fall into the trap of believing some lies in my life. I can look at all of the evidence, I can know that the belief is silly, stupid even, but I just can’t kick it.
When someone lies to you, it hurts. But when you lie to yourself? It’s a trap.