Day 16 – Museum

My childhood bedroom was home to my museum of nature.

There were two parts to this museum: the original collection, which was in a small piece of furniture with shelves and tiny drawers, perhaps a former home to sewing materials; the second part was the new, modernist addition – made by my father, painted white, and consisting of four sliding shelves.

I loved it all and filled it with things I found out and about: rocks, bones, feathers, seeds.

Every item had a numbered sticker on it, with each number matching a catalogue I typed out.

I wonder now if this was my attempt at getting grips with the world – a small boy putting his arms around a big universe. If everything could be collected, catalogued and named, then perhaps I had a degree of control over everything out there.

To name was to know.

As I’ve got older and the museum was put into storage in my parents’ attic, I’ve grown to understand that not everything can be named and known. And that’s OK.

Indeed, the unnamed and the unknown is where the most joy lives. It’s only in those moments of awe and wonder, before the mind kicks in and tries to figure everything out, do we truly experience life.

I’m wondering if the gaping hole of uncertainty that fills our chests is where the greatest truth resides.

Perhaps some things are too big to be known, too big to be given a small name.

Falling into that unknowing is where the work lies.