on becoming a curator

A little over a year ago, I helped hang photos with a friend who was putting together a photo exhibit at a local gallery.  The photographs were the works of many women photographers, and my friend, who had chosen all the images, was now figuring out which photographs should go where in the space.  We began sorting the photographs and placing them against the walls, based on size of the photographs, the length of the walls, that sort of thing.

At one point, the director of the gallery came out.  "Oh, no," she said, looking at the photographs leaning against the walls.  "They can't go like that."  And she proceeded to rearrange the images.

My friend and I were pretty surprised; however, once the director was finished there was no mistaking that the exhibit definitely looked more cohesive.   Thing is, for the life of me, I couldn't tell you exactly what she'd done, or why she'd rearranged the photographs the way she did.  But it was the first time I really truly understood the power of a good curator.  There's something to be said for having a critical eye for what works and what doesn't.

Over the last week or so, I've come to the somewhat startling realization that the same concept is true for life.  I think up until very recently I operated under the assumption that life was something that just happened to me:  that good things and bad things happen, and my mettle or strength of character were measured based on the way in which I handled the circumstances.  To some extent, of course, this is true:  often events occur in our lives that are completely out of our control.  But -- and this is the startling part -- I realized that for the rest of the time, I can, in large part, curate it.  That instead of living on autopilot, I can actually put my hands on the throttle, not just to make major life changes (as I have in the past), but also effect minor adjustments just for the purposes of making life more interesting.

It is why, I suppose, more than a year later I remain as enamoured with the concept of a life list as I did when I first made mine.  I've heard some people say they've abandoned their life lists because it made them feel bad because they weren't completing the items "quickly enough," or they were afraid of how it would make them feel if at the end of their lives if they hadn't experienced everything on them; but I don't look at my life list this way.  I sort of think of the act of creating a life list similar to creating a palette of paint colours:  I pick the paint colours that appeal to me, and then from the palette, I use specific paints to make my art, or, more metaphorically, my life.  And yes, I may not use all the paints or do all the items on the list, and the events I pick aren't the only things that will happen to me in my life; nonetheless, they sure as hell can help make life more interesting, more vibrant. They help balance the tedium.  In other words, a life list isn't so much a to-do list as a curated selection of possibilities, from which to pick and choose to help create my life.

Anyway, as a result of this little epiphany, it may be time to curate my life even more closely: by plugging away and editing and evolving the life list, of course, but also paying attention and evaluating my routine and the things that happen to me as well.  I'm going to focus on eliminating life habits that have become unhealthy for me (in all senses of the word), and spend more time trying to discover things that light me up.  Things that I can add to my palette.

So for the time being, that's how I'm going to define "living with intention."  More as I learn more.

And with that, Happy Love Thursday, friends.  Go make your life worth loving.



Image:  Photographed with my Nikon D300, 50mm lens.  aperture 1.4, shutter speed 1/200, ISO 200


SongWhat I am by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians