The curated life

Good morning friends,

I’ve become a bit weary of the word “curated.”  I’ve always thought of this word in terms of the “curated collection” of a museum – a set of carefully selected objects with some kind of common theme – but lately, I’ve heard it used in a variety of contexts.  With the recent popularity of Marie Kondo and the decluttering movement, many bloggers are writing about “curating” their homes … their closets … their makeup … their books.

I’m all for decluttering, but “curating” sounds a bit highbrow here.

Image result for curated

So I looked up the word, to make sure I was understanding it correctly.  Lo and behold, it can be used in a variety of ways, referring to a collection of things that has been carefully selected and brought together, usually for the purpose of display.

Around this time, I also heard a talk on selective memory; how we filter our memories, keep and discard them, reimagine them so they fit our life narratives the way we want them to.  Then I thought about blogs.

This is the third blog I’ve owned.  Each had its own purpose.  The first was about my experiences in graduate school, and the second was about my early career.  This one is a thinking place.

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Bloggers are curators of life.  We select, and bring together for display, stories and memories and thoughts that represent who we are.  We leave stuff out, too.  We are building an online persona, an idealized version of ourselves (even when we write in anger or post about the crappy stuff).  Whatever it is, we chose it.

Here’s a curated memory:  I was five or six, it was Christmas Eve, and snowing lightly.  Our house was on a corner, and there was a street lamp outside.  We looked out the window and saw Santa Claus himself, standing under the street lamp, at nearly midnight on Christmas Eve.  I was told I needed to get to bed quickly, so he could bring my presents inside and place them around the tree.

Image result for santa standing under street lamp

As I grew up, I realized there would be a “practical explanation” for our street-corner Santa.  A person dressed up, going to a party, perhaps?  Waiting for a cab?  Posing for a picture?  Getting ready to walk in on a houseful of kids to surprise them?  It doesn’t matter.  When I recall this memory, I still feel the magic that filled my chest and took my breath away.  Santa was real, and he was here.

That’s a curated memory.

When I share bits and pieces of my life, it’s never the whole picture.  It’s a moment, a nugget, that I’ve selected and processed and stored for recall, and each time I recall it, it may be shaped a little differently.  That’s how life works.  Each time we revisit a story, we meet it as a different person than we were the last time, and we will see it anew.

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You, in turn, will put these revealed “nuggets” together and form a picture of me that is accurate, insofar as it goes, but never complete.  That’s another way that life works.  It’s a constant and ongoing discovery that expands and contracts and changes with every moment.  And that’s the wonder of it all.

Wishing you a day filled with wonder, and the stuff of memories,

Winnie and the Professor

Image may contain: cat

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