Each part of this exhibition has been a gentle request to pause in front of something I have placed there for your reflection and mine. Some of these things are small and not obviously consequential, but everything has been placed with as much care as I could give them. I have done this so that you could see them clearly, understand them, and know their value to me.
As you will have gathered it is far from being a showcase for Pollyanna glassware where everything is always half-full. That would be to make my story just another heavily edited and immaculately primped Instagram page. However, by placing things in my imagined exhibition that tell just a little of my story, I hope it may offer the opportunity for you to notice your story too, and to realise that each of our stories is so much richer than we think, more powerful than we have realised and, above all, that every story deserves to be told.
Most of our lives are hidden from each other in plain sight, but none are ordinary. When we notice our own story, and see how it has shaped us (and how it has influenced others) it is easier for us to accept what has been and easier as well to influence what is to come. Our back-story will contain the narrative of our potential. When we know how to tell our story well, and know its value, it becomes the platform for the difference we will make in the world.
The rooms we have not yet filled in the exhibition of our story, the rooms beyond blessings, should therefore give us hope that we will step into any given moment and make a difference. Whatever we can do, however small and seemingly consequential it may seem at the time, that small thing might just be the origin story for something that later deserves a special place in our exhibition; how wonderful would that be and how important therefore to try.
We can all hope for a kinder world, where the differences between us are not what we fear and want to hate, but what we celebrate and want to love. And yet, in the world today, where so many have to endure unimaginable pain and suffering, it can feel that all we have left is to wrap ourselves in despair, where kindness feels pointlessly out of reach and hope is a place we have forgotten how to find.
We all know that in our own darkest days of great personal loss and sadness, when we have felt crushed by the weight of grief or the hopelessness of ever finding a way to cope, that we were rarely revived by well-intended clichés and platitudes, even from people who love us dearly. We also know that our existential despair for the pain and suffering in the world often leaves us gasping to make sense of what has happened. But in the end it is beyond our comprehension, and all we have left is an unsatisfactory vocabulary and eyes that need to look away. Sometimes, when darkness descends, it is better not to pretend there is light.
Terrible things must be given terrible names and the last kindness left to any of us is not to diminish or judge another human being’s suffering and pain. One day however, as dark as the darkness feels today, some light will return. In the meantime, however long that may be, we must not ignore the power we have to make our own small difference to something or someone today. We must try not to despair, even in the darkest of days.
I will hold tight to that thought for now.
Take care. Paul xx