“It is a paradox that as we reach our prime, we also see there is a place where it finishes.”

— Gail Sheehy

I am a collector.  I have spent many years gathering interesting items, different ideas, and stories about the people and experiences that have made up my life.  They occupy my mind and my heart like a vast array of precious treasures, and I like to spend time visiting them, savoring them and enjoying the memories they conjure for me out of the mist of memory.  I never really thought about it before, but I think maybe I have reached my prime.  I say this because I keep catching myself sharing my collection with the next generation, passing along the things I treasure most to the people who share my heritage.  Watching my granddaughter’s eyes light up as she listens to a music box for the first time makes me realize that it belongs with the one whose wide-eyed excitement enjoys it in the way I did the first time I heard it play.  I think about wanting her to have it now, while I can share her enjoyment and wonder — not when I am gone. Seeing her sister stoop to pick up a rock and put it in her pocket to take it home makes me scrutinize my own collection of stones and crystals and tell her why I love the ones I’ve chosen to keep.

It has taken me a while to slow down and think about it; but at sixty, I’ve decided that I may be approaching the middle of my life.  I know that I have reached the top of my climb, and I can see that the road ends in the valley below, just over the third hill and out of sight in the forest.  Now is the time — the prime time — to make sense of why I have chosen to hold onto my collection; now is the time to let go and distribute not only the things but the reasons why I hold them dear.  It is good to reach the top of the mountain and have a chance to see into the distance.  It is good to reach our prime with the paradox that just as we come into our power we must figure out how to relinquish it to those who will go on after we are gone.  It is in seeing that we do not go on forever that we learn to let go of the symbols of who we are.  It is in sharing them that we leave our mark on the lives we touch, and by doing so gain immortality.