Collection: the action or process of collecting someone or something
Reflection: serious thought or consideration
On Friday night I attended Celeste Walker’s one-woman show at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Celeste is an actor, college educator and a subject of one of my interviews in the Beyond Sixty Project. Of course, she is much more than my brief description and she revealed herself in great detail during her one hour performance. Colette Reloaded tells the story of a woman in her early 60’s who is examining her life experiences, the choices she has made and why she made them. It was brutally honest and left a road map clearly showing her route to the play. Aside from being a talented writer and actor, Celeste is a complicated and deeply analytical woman who has a collection of life experiences that she is willing to share with the world. How brave, cathartic and healing. I related very closely to some of Celeste’s experiences, many women probably would.
My “collections” seem to be on a re-run reel and are in much sharper focus these days. I suppose it is a matter of my age combined with the fact that I have more time for reflection. Some years ago when I would re-live an experience or a choice I made, I may have become angry or sad or regretful. I am now at the the point where those emotions have been replaced with acceptance and I can embrace each experience with minimal angst. Reflection is a good thing, a necessity for continued self-improvement.
In interviewing women over the age of sixty, I find they are all in the process of reflection and understanding of the choices they have made. I probably should have and if I had done this instead of this comes up regularly but not in a negative way. They are common phrases used to clarify the path while discussing their continuing journeys. Each of the accomplished women I have interviewed has a couple things in common. They have collected a wide variety of life experiences and they are able to reflect on each experience to clearly understand themselves and their place in the universe. To top it off, they are not done! They continue to create new experiences and are open to change with the ultimate goal of being the best version of themselves they can possibly be. I admire them all.
Most people will think of a collection as something you can see and touch, such as art, books or beautiful objects. While I have some of those things, and I love them, it is my vast collection of experiences that I cherish the most because they make me who I am and help me to see who I want to be. If I had not taken all the risks I did. If I had not made each decision, positive or negative. If I had not traveled and immersed myself in other cultures. If I had not stepped outside of the prescribed boundaries given to me who would I be? What would I have to offer?
Our collection of experiences shapes us. Our ability to reflect on those collections and change our course of action or improve in any way is very important. Ah, such is the cycle of life.
Bravo, Celeste Walker.