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The Collector

© Richard Newman, 1997

     I imagine the collector as a woman who has been wandering across the lands of our planet from the beginning of recorded history. Probably earlier. In the beginnings of imagined history, maybe in the seeds of time, she is the prototype and archetype which never dies. Not that she doesn`t change. It is just that there is a part of her that through genetics or modeling, threatens to direct the lives of every man and woman. That is precisely why I see her as a metaphor,larger than life, but still completely burdened by life. She lives through a cycle of three stages. At the completion of each stage she is near the beginning, but one step up. Her life is a spiral of gathering carrying and giving birth. Each time she is wiser and more knowledgeable.

      I look down the tunnel to the beginning. I see her, a tiny figure silhouetted by the lights of creation. Full of vigor and bounce, she springs toward me experiencing joy and sorrow, aware of every sound and nuance. She stops to sniff the flowers and the salt air of the sea, picking up a petal,a bud, a shell, each to remind her of every step she has taken. Still she moves and moves, an unstoppable force year upon year.

      As her collection of items grows, she shares them with the friends that she passes. Here is an exceptionally fine piece of flint that she has gathered for her friend, the tool maker. This hide she gives to the seamstress to make the warmest and most beautiful of coats. A fork from the willow tree is for the diviner. There is no end to her sharing. Her bounty is so great though that she always gathers more than she can give away.

      As we watch her moving about us we notice that she is moving a little slower, until, as we see her heading to the edge of the valley, we realize for the first time that her cape is entangled and ready to burst from the load. The corners of her smile are weighted with memories. Only through sheer determination does she put one foot slowly ahead of the other until she is at last beyond our sight.

      Sometimes when I close my eyes, I conjure three distinct visions of her cape. First, as she approaches, her cape made of the finest net weave gives the illusion of golden gossamer wings. The second, her cape swings with the weight of heavy crushed velvet. In the last, I see her cape stretched around two planets dragging below her feet.

Stage three... internal voice...
      "Why am I moving so slow? I don`t think I have room for another thing. I wish I could find someone to take more of this wonderful stuff that I have collected. Then. I could visit them, Then I could feel that they had a good home. Then I could feel they haven`t been wasted. Then I could gather more stuff.Then I would be able to surround myself with beautiful new findings. I guess I`ll just have to unload everything. I can`t stand any more."

      Climbing up the hillside, trudging through rain and snow, she is very wet. She is muddy. She is cold. At the top of the hill she reaches the cliff. She opens the clasp on her cape and sits down on an ice covered rock. The snow has now stopped and a hint of light from the moon breaks through the clouds. With a sigh she says, "It is time." She takes a deep breath in the cool night air and stands. With all of her concentration, she grabs the top of her cape, and as her adrenalin begins to surge, she swings her cape over her head clockwise. When she gathers enough momentum, she releases and everything in the cape frees itself into the night sky.

      Some of the objects crash creating a fireworks of sparks. Others move so fast they begin to burn from the friction settling into the sky as new stars. Some become new planets or new moons of old planets. The centrifugal force of the spin cleanses her cape, so that the gossamer threads once again sparkle. With a crash here and there some objects settle to the ground creating new landscapes, and new resources. Some hit the ground bringing destruction, pollution and other problems. Perhaps that is where she must start her next journey.

Stage one again... internal voice...
      "I feel fresh. Once again I can see that the world is beautiful. I will only take what I need to remind myself of how divine it is to be awake, to be alive. From now on with pen and paper I can record with words and sketches, the things I would like to remember. And I can draw maps of places where things are. Then I can share all of this with my friends."

      Well as you might imagine, scraps of paper turn into bound books. Books multiply into volumes and the collector once again is carrying quite a heavy load. In time we see her approach the edge of our city (we have grown also).

      It is time to free herself once again. She reaches her hill top. She gathers her cape full of information and ideas. Her spiral dance twirls her cape into wider and wider arcs until her tomes of knowledge scatters to the four corners of the earth (which is no easy task on a round planet). In many cities and towns,libraries, museums and universities appeared full of her quirks and quips. At the university they gave her a Latin name, Alma Mater,fostering mother.

      She still gathers, carries and gives birth with all the pains and joys we could ever imagine. Sometimes we see her clearly, but most of the time we are too busy ourselves. We carry out her rituals, we make her mistakes, we carry her loads and we share along the way.

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© Richard Newman, 1997 - 2003Do not copy without express permission.