Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time and the Quarter Collection

In 1999, I decided to take on a 10-year project. Toward the end of my sophomore year in college, the U.S. Mint started the 50 State Quarters Program and, despite not really being a coin collector, I thought this would be cool.

It was a conscious decision. I decided it wouldn't go seeking out quarters or anything of the sort. I wanted to simply come upon them. With five quarters released each year, I knew I had at least a 10-year project on hand.

And so it began. First, as a small stack of quarters in my dorm room. That summer, after I told my mom I was doing this, she picked me up a $5 folder with slots for each state's quarter. Last week, after 10 years of looking carefully at virtually every quarter that came my way, I found a Montana quarter from the office vending machine... and my collection was complete.

One of the reasons I started the collection was so I could sit back and see just what transpired in my life between acquiring that Delaware quarter and the completion of the collection. And, it's really quite a catalog:

  • I got my first job. And my second. And third. And fourth.
  • I moved South.
  • I got married.
  • I traveled to Europe for the first time... and then went back again.
  • I traveled all over this country, making many of those quarters bring back some memory of being in one of those states. (This is notable since, in 1999, I had been to 13 states. On Sunday, that number hits 28 unless my count is off.)
I could go on. And that's to say nothing of world events, pop culture happenings, technological advances and so forth. Think about it... there was no iPod in 1999.

The good news, though? We often discuss how time flies... going faster and faster all the time. The truth is, it feels like the quarter collection took a long time. Slow, deliberate... it made me realize just how much time has passed. And how I really have made the most of it. I've done a lot, experienced a lot and learned a lot since the collection started. And the next 10 years... I may not be collecting quarters (no way, Jose), but I can take solace in knowing that life isn't a sprint.

It can slowed down and it can offer a world of perspective.

1 comment:

Sarie said...

I like this. I'm happy that you got your quarter, and I'm glad time is both fast and slow at the same time. :)