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Touchstones have been used for centuries to test the purity of precious metals. The test is done by rubbing the metal against the stone. The mark that reveals the quality of the metal is the color left on the stone. I learned this factoid only recently and realized I'd been using the word "touchstone" metaphorically without knowing its origin. I had imagined the formative moments in my life as stones I touched along the way. From time to time, I would reach out for these markers on memory's path. Learning the true meaning of "touchstone" forced me to see things differently. Important moments became the metals, and my life the stone. This startling new perspective offered a neat twist to the notion that life is a test of one's mettle. It also made me realize that the quality of important moments in our lives will be revealed over time by the lasting vibrancy of the colors they leave behind.

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