As we will soon be leaving the exhibition, this is a moment to perhaps notice a few things that I hope we may carry quietly with us even as we step from the peace and calm of this space and back into the pavement throng of our busy lives.
As always, the things I would like you to notice are not shared as unarguable truths, but simply as passing reflections for you to hold lightly, and only for as long as they help you to pause.
All exhibitions in our major galleries and museums will have the inevitable “retail experience” encouraging us to buy a memory before we make our way towards the exit. However, in my exhibition there is no retail experience; there will be nothing to clutter a shelf or postcards to put in a forgotten drawer with images that hardly touch the sides of depicting the joy of what we have just seen. We all know, I think, that there is no hope of finding something again that once truly moved us when that feeling has been reduced to a blurry image on a tea towel.
It is the tokenism of our busy lives that makes me anxious. I am anxious that we make sense of confusion and complexity by over-relying on the things we agree with, while denying the things that we don’t. I am anxious that we seek answers that are not designed to address the problems we face, but to give us false comfort in the opinions we hold. I am anxious that that we offer lazy support to those who agree with us, when in our hearts we know we learn more from challenge and debate. I am anxious that we have turned our humanity into a retail experience – where we offer each other cheap imitations of things that should never be bought or sold, excusing us the trouble to grow, explore, change and care; and instead filling our lives with the soulless memorabilia of easy to spout half-truths.
So, the words I have written here, and which you are kindly reading now, should only be held lightly and only for a while. I am one in seven billion on this planet which makes me both unique and pointless at the same time. I write these words therefore not to displace yours, or to hold my opinions higher than yours; but I write them to honour your thoughts and to ask that you allow your thoughts to be carried lightly by others as well.
I believe with all my heart that there is so much more goodness to find, to cherish and to share than we have discovered in our lives so far. I believe that kindness is an energy source that will never be depleted and is renewable in everyone and in every small act of caring. Above all, I believe we find our way in this world when we let ourselves notice the difference that only we we can make.
When we step back into the pavement throng of our busy lives, jostled and shoved by strangers, unable to see clearly the path we are on and sometimes carried away from where we would like to be, I ask you not to hold my thoughts, but to hold your own with all the care you can find to look after something so precious and unique. Allow them to guide you and to speak up for you, because that is how we make the world a little better.
The exhibition of our lives should not finish with a confection of cliches on poorly made fridge magnets, but in the way our reflections give us a pause for kindness even in the middle of the pavement throng.
It is almost certainly pointless to think we will change the world on our own, but I am certain we are all uniquely placed to make our difference if we seek out undiscovered goodness and trust that we will never, ever run out of kindness.
to be continued…
Take care xx