I was congratulating forum member justmund on his modified PRS (seen here) and praised him for being an "Owner". He mentioned that he never saw the thread (on BaM, may it rest in peace). Half-way through my response, I thought it prudent to revive the discussion in a thread all it's own.
(EDIT: While the original post (and this one) was about MY journey, those two words (caretaker & Owner) carried on in the community. I added them to the Lexicon and then deleted them when it was clearly the wrong thing to do. I'm not trying to apply labels to anyone. I'm just describing my own experiences. If they resonate with you too, then I suppose we have even more in common than before.)
The gist of the original thread was that I was at a cross-road in my journey from guitar player to guitar collector and was slowly making my way back to being a guitar player who happens to have a guitar collection. My fear of hurting the value of my guitars was starting to get a little silly. In my original thread, I mentioned that I no longer felt the need to keep them perfect for the next guy to enjoy. I called that (keeping them perfect) the Caretaker perspective. A caretaker, to me, regards each guitar as an investment and keeps them nice, presumably, for the next guy to consume. That's not to say that people who prefer them flawless are all Caretakers.
Many of my guitars were destined to spend their lives in the case. Their basic value was tied, primarily, to my selfishness and greed. The Caretaker perspective is now the thing I dislike most in myself. It is ever-present. But I am committed to becoming a full-time Owner. Even if I'm an Owner with a collection - which may include some guitars that hardly ever leave the case.
An Owner, in the context of this discussion, is not afraid to play, modify, or scratch/dent the guitar. I didn't say that an owner is concerned about keeping the guitar nice - just that if a scratch or dent happens, its just part of the ownership experience. An Owner is prepared to consume the value of each guitar in his/her lifetime -- leaving something between a well played guitars and a worthless pile of sticks upon his/her departure. An Owner makes each guitar "a tool" to accomplish a task. A beautiful tool, sure... but a tool nonetheless. An Owner with Caretaker tendencies will probably remember the time and place of every single ding and dent. I think that's a bonus. That brings me to the heart of the original thread... when you really own a guitar, it becomes more than a tool; it becomes a diary of a life well-lived.
Example: I had a stunning HB2 Artist once. My daughter, Eden, closed the lid of case as I was removing the guitar. It received a small ding from a latch on the case. I was really upset about it (like a good Caretaker) at the time. I sold that guitar - which I regret. Now, 4 years later, I see it very differently. That ding is mine! It was made made by my daughter when she was a year old. I will never forget the moment and having that guitar would make the memory a little more vivid. More tangible, if you will. I feel so silly that I got upset about it. I really wish I had THAT guitar back. I would never repair that ding. It was an entry into the diary of my life - and my journey with Eden. Why would I want to erase that?
Anyway... I am an Owner at heart but I carry on as a Caretaker. It's a 60/40 split in favor (to my frustration) of the Caretaker. Being a full-time Owner is an important goal of mine. I may never get there but I'm going to try.