September 22, 2013 / SCHOOLING YOU
September 22, 2013
Pen to paper, foot to pavement, someone woke up at four in the morning ready to change themselves, the world, or something in between. They are the 15-year old tech CEO who found an accurate, inexpensive technique of detecting pancreatic cancer. They are the late-blooming artist who begins painting starry nights in their late twenties. They are the ubiquitous tech-entrepreneur who refuses to listen to naysayers. What lies at the heart of their stories is the same—they have decided to curate their own story and cultivate a passion for living life. The words of Blake Mycoskie always come to mind when people speak of curation:
“If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story and then turn your story into something bigger—something that matters.”
There is a lot of buzz around curation, both arguing against and applauding the dissemination and ubiquity of a concept that was, until recently, reserved for art galleries and museums. The Bourgeois need not apply. Like most English words, the term “curate” has evolved many times since its conception, and in its current form comes from the Medieval Latin term “cura,” which means to take care or cure of souls. People are taking care of their souls in order to find passion in life. All linguistic and artistic egos aside, I hope the word becomes as ubiquitous as possible. We are quenching a thirst for meaning in life and catalyzing our passions with the rapid cultural transformation we have instigated with the invention of the Internet. People pursue interests with the same ardor as a museum curator or a parish priest fighting for the souls of her flock. We have more ability. We have a world of information at our fingertips, and an unprecedented number of choices we can make in a day. The Internet is just a tool, inanimate and void of emotion or decision-making capabilities. We must learn to harness this tool and tend to our increasingly complex lives. Curation outside of the museum is imperative.
There’s nothing more important than the inherent tension in life—the struggle to find oneself in a world of happiness and corruption, in perfection and poverty. The dualistic struggle to comprehend ourselves drives us to very personal expressions and occupations, all creative in their own right, and all worthy of curation. Our wake-up time, jobs, habits, vices, and brands all reflect this tension. By curating your own life, you have an ability to find peace and passion in life, individually and collectively. I associate curation with something I call Zensanity—making a habit out of cultivating a desire for something people think is insane, and deciding every day to do something that gets you closer to said insanity. It’s a Buddhist thing. The important thing to remember is that the goal is not the end result, but the desire to get there. It’s the curating of life that brings you happiness. The goal is mindfulness.
I grew up without much money, supervision or food. I had a rough go of life when I was younger, and yet I would only change a few things if I had the chance. The experiences I’ve had shaped me into the person I am today. I have empathy for people, and try to metaphorically walk in others’ shoes daily. When I was nine-years old I started writing and sketching my thoughts in a journal, and never would have imagined I’d be in the position I am today—looking out of my window at a picturesque view of the Chicago skyline—I didn’t even know my ABCs. Fortunately, my narrative leads me to becoming a designer: to connecting with a desire to produce positive visual communication and art; to thinking of new brands with positive social benefits; and to writing this article. I do my best to curate my life—it’s just as important to me as any museum piece.
My senior year of high school, a mentor of mine asked if we could meet at our favorite lunch spot. She asked how I was doing, what universities I was considering, and how my family situation was working out. At the end of our visit, she slipped me a hundred dollar bill and asked if I could do something for her. Clutching the crisp Benjamin, I made a promise to do whatever she needed. She asked me to “never lose my naivety. Never lose the wonder.” She told me how she wished someone had told her those words when she was getting started in life. At the time, I didn’t know her advice would become both the basis of my happiness in my private and professional life, and the foundation for making my life personal.
Life is personal. Curate it.
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