The Collector

In the seclusion of her life (and one may always view such seclusion as the private portal of one’s soul, or within the lost imaginations of a wandering mind, or the momentary quietude of becoming lost in a pleasant memory from a childhood past), she had been known as a ‘collector’. Her weathered, sun-spotted hands, leathery yet revealing the grace and delicate bones they exhibited in youthful days, friends would comment how she could have a career in television merely relying upon the beauty of her hands; and that was without commenting upon her facial beauty; the beauty of her physical appearance; the beauty of – and the reader would naturally inquire, but what of her soul? For, of course the soul is of paramount importance; it is that which forms the foundation of absolutes; and as was already described, she was a collector in younger days. Her collection, however, was of information; of gossipy tidbits about her friends, neighbors, family and acquaintances; embarrassing moments; of details which one would ask to be forgiven for, or forgotten, or tossed into the attic of one’s past.

She collected and carefully stored such details; and when it was to her advantage, she would bring them out and use them for various purposes: as a tool; as a shield; as a hammer or axe; to defend, to fend, to deflect, to slash or to bludgeon. Such was the contrast between the delicate beauty of her hands, the relative grace and ease with which she moved them, almost in free-flow, as a ballet-dancer, as she spoke and used the weapon of her choice: words. For though we describe by metaphor the power of words, her hands were without such weapons as we ascribe; it was through her lips that such words emerged and spewed, and the wounds inflicted.

How many of us are collectors? How many of us can wash the sins of others, as God washes our own sins merely by our asking? And in her last years, she lived a solitary life, for by words her circle of friends dwindled, cast away and running and hiding from the weapons of words; until one day, she found herself alone, in the solitary confinement of her own words. And though they may merely be words, they build walls around us; impenetrable, surrounded by a moat which cannot be traversed. Collecting is a hobby of sorts; the collector reflects the value of what is collected; and the collection reveals the soul of the collector. Some collect stamps; others collect paintings; still others collect pottery and other such items. But to collect the past acts of your neighbor – ah, that is a collection which is not worthy of the soul of man.

One thought on “The Collector

  1. After spending 10 years of my life working for the Postal Service, I can’t help myself to draw most of my life reflections from working there.

    In that place, there was a very beautiful young lady that apparently always needed constant adoration and flattering from other people, mostly men. It appeared to me that she always needed to be the center of attention and many times she was. Her conversation was mostly about she, her and herself, but above everything, she was also a big gossiper. Always highlighting the negative personal attributes of people. However, at least in that particular case (and contrary to what we should have learned with this story), she never seemed to lack friends.

    For many of her admirers (she called them “friends”), her good looks was even more important than her personality. However, after I realized the way she was, I honestly couldn’t stand her.

    At first, sure, sure, I liked her and everything else (good looks do have an impression in most of us), but after I realized how she was from the inside (and for other reasons too), I honestly couldn’t even stand her.

    The story that Mr. McGill writes probably works in the longer term, when women get older, and their good looks are not as good as they used to be. Maybe, I think in that way because I am not longer as idealist as I used to be in my college years, or maybe that particular working environment was as strange as some Postal supervisors treat their employees.

    At the end, I wish that people learn from their own mistakes, but many times — too many times — they don’t. In this case, that lady from the story never apparently did, but then I realized that “the Collector” was supposed to be a sort of a fable, that is, a very short story which was meant to illustrate a point or teach us a lesson. If not, at least I can testify the benefit of this reading, that is, I’m at least enriching my vocabulary while submerging deeply into an ocean of thoughts and reflections.

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