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Very nice. My several shell cordovan shoes (mainly refurbished vintage Florsheims, and other older brands, plus a couple of Aldens and one AE) are all more or less part of the Strategic Shell Cordovan Reserve now, LOL, although they have actually all been worn a few times. These days, most of my vast shoe collection, cordovan or not, appear to be held back since I have few occasions to wear shoes unless it is cold weather, and then I have calfskins and boots I can wear from late fall to spring. The biggest wear is on Birkenstocks, and I most assuredly have a Strategic Birkenstock Reserve!
 

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Very true. And some of the items I collect have little practical use, unlike clothes and shoes. For instance, stamps (whether used or mint) are collected for aesthetic reasons, and not because they are going to be put to use (if mint) to carry mail. The same is true of a variety of objects that people collect, most notably, works of art. Again, one does these kinds of collections for psychological, cultural and aesthetic reasons. I once gave a talk on the psychology of collecting and it was instructive to me to ask people why they collect objects. One of the most basic reasons was the control and organization one could extend to a small part of the world.

Many non-collecting activities have no practical utility either, except perhaps the provision of employment for armies of people in the service of those activities. Almost any sport qualifies. Hitting a ball with a bat, chasing after another larger ball in order to kick it into a net with two posts, or running with one to one end of a field, dropping a ball into a wire-rimmed slot with a net around it, using sticks to hit a ball into holes in the ground -- the list is almost endless. In functional, practical terms, sports do not advance human civilization, but we have fun playing them or watching them be played by those skilled at them. Poetry and fiction, plays, music, cinema and many other artistic activities do not have practical utility either, but they add an immense dimension to our human nature and our culture. Whether these cultural and entertainment dimensions are essential to daily functioning is an issue worth considering, but most of us would agree that they enrich our lives in ways that are not measurable through utility alone. However, it is chastening to consider how irrelevant a lot of our activities may be in societies and nations where the most basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter -- are met only with great difficulty, or not met at all.

One of the most beloved Zen monks in Japan had very few possessions: Two robes, two pairs of sandals and a small collection of books. Yet he enriched the lives of many by teaching them the way of Buddhist dharma and the key to ending suffering. I can't think of a more noble activity, but it has nothing to do with the possession of objects! And I also remember a doctor in Kerala, India, who practised medicine and made people healthy by travelling from village to village and treating the poor for free -- he was given food by the people, and looked after by them, and they gave him a bicycle to help in his travels. Clinics gave him some access to testing facilities and they too, knew of the work he was doing. The love that the monk in Japan and the doctor in India had for other human beings is perhaps the highest level of humanity one could aspire to, and yet it had little to do with objects or money. But those people also functioned against the backdrop of societies that were firmly anchored in the temporal and the material, and not given all that much to the spiritual. Yet another paradox of human existence, I suppose.
 
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