Pearl necklaces…we all have one—even the guys. I’m not referring to that piece of jewelry touted as the perfect accessory to every woman’s wardrobe back in the 1950’s. What I’m referring to, has nothing to do with jewelry or proper accessorizing. In fact, the type of pearl necklace that I’m referring to isn’t something you wear at all.
The pearl necklace that I’m referring to are those events, moments and nuggets of life that we’ve each consigned to our memories and pull out on occasion to admire, regret, chide ourselves with, or sometimes just grow nostalgic over. These small pearls of life are strung together by each us and become our own personal pearl necklaces.
Here’s mine—can you see it? This pearl is where I fought with my brother over which of us was going to sit up front with Mom and Dad when we got our new car—I was about 3 then; and next to it is the day I got my first visit from the Tooth Fairy. This pearl is my first bike ride (without training wheels) and it’s right next to the first report card with straight A’s. Then there’s the day I had to get in front of the whole 6th grade class and give a talk on Abraham Lincoln, followed by the day I attended my first funeral which is next to the pearl of my mom’s death.
If you look at your own necklace you’ll see that it’s pretty similar. Of course, you may have different pearls, but then your life was different, wasn’t it? Maybe you didn’t save any real sad memories, or any real happy ones. You may have never attended a funeral, or had a sibling to fight with. That’s why each pearl necklace is so unique, because each one is comprised of all the memories, all the pieces of life that you found important enough to remember and turn into a pearl.
Some pearls are similar for large groups—such as those created by all Americans on 9/11. Yet, while they may have similarities, they will also be different, because each of us is a unique individual and each of us was affected by the events differently. Even those who closely share lives—such as husbands and wives, parents and children, or even best friends—the events that occur between them and are turned into pearls will still be different. Because no matter how close people are, they are still individuals; they are still unique, so their reactions to life’s events is still different.
Some of us are methodical when putting together our necklaces, making sure that the pearl for 7/4/1976 is right next to the pearl for 7/5/1976; while others are a little more random with their pearls, putting 7/4/1976 next to 12/25/2000. However, it doesn’t really matter, after all, all of life is a series of choices, and selecting which pearls to put where along the string of our necklace is just another choice.
We all also choose how large to make our necklace. The number of pearls you add to your necklace depends on how long you maintain the current life. After all, when you stop collecting pearls, you stop living (and then it’s time to start a different type of adventure).
When this life ends, the necklace you’ve created is added to the thousands of others that you’ve created throughout your many lives—ones that you periodically pull out and review and, sometimes, even share with some of the others that you meet along the way.
And when the time is right, you might even begin a new life, and therefore, start stringing a new necklace, collecting pearls as you go along, following the path that you have chosen for that life.