For when you find yourself looking at your own life – or when you should. Curate your own life so you can better understand it – and what to do next.
This is nothing to do with Anglican clergymen and the local curate. I’m thinking about curating as in creating an exhibition, and yes, I mean an exhibition. But I’m also thinking in terms of curating an exhibition for me, of me. And I’m thinking about why that might be sensible. And if it’s sensible for me, it might be for you, too.
I first started considering this because of my increasingly close proximity to older people. By that which I mean people in the final third of their lives. And I have to acknowledge that group includes me too.
Of course, you will be interacting with people older than you all your life. But when your own cohort is collectively entering the last phase of its likely life on the planet, your focus starts to change. Issues that the last phase raise loom sufficiently large, so as to frequently exercise your thoughts.
Not that long ago, for most people this wasn’t such an issue. Life was a case of birth-school-work-death in pretty short order. But the population is ageing. For more and more people, lives go on for longer. Hence, thinking about there being a significant final third to one’s life is becoming ever more valid. Life can now be segmented as childhood, then middle- and then old-age.
With the final third becoming more significant, the quality of those later years is becoming more of an issue. Curating your own life becomes something worth doing to help improve that quality.
My initial line of thought was to curate as preparation. For when you no longer have all the things you used to have. When you have fewer possessions accompanying your day-to-day life. There are any number of reasons why this might be the case. Perhaps you’ve downsized through choice. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a space-limited care-home context. And so on. Whatever the precise cause, curate to be able to be mindful of your own back-story.
Living space aside, perhaps we should all curate our own lives because sooner or later you might find you can no longer take in or take on more. That you just don’t have the energy. Along with our bodies, brains seem prone to getting tired as years go by.
An ageing, tired brain isn’t looking for nostalgia. Nor’s a brain that’s missing things that no longer surround it. What you’d be curating are positive memories. Things that jog the brain to remember events, people, holidays, places, interests, hobbies – anything you’d be comfortable to come across as you review your history.
Curating your past while you can could also be insurance against memory’s future failings. As well as brains getting tired as we age, it seems memories often do fail, fray, or at best prove unreliable. It might also be insurance, too, against illness or injury – against more sudden events.
There are other aspects. If you have someone to share memories with, curating yourself and then sharing the exhibition might make looking back all the more meaningful.
Another facet might well be curating to better equip you, not for looking back but for taking on the new. You’d be curating yourself to help understand your future potential. Yes, you might have a brain that gets tired more readily, but that doesn’t mean it’s incapable of learning. And learning will be made easier by having a good understanding of your own already proven abilities, your own already experienced life.
It occurs to me, curating your own exhibition perhaps could be a route to a better understanding of yourself. Others have said that the hardest thing of all to know is yourself. Once you start looking, you’ll never be wholly sure what you’ll find to put into the exhibition. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Thinking about the future in this sense raises a possibility. Should we endeavour to curate not just aspects of our past that we’re comfortable with? Should we try to curate ourselves in all regards? And should we in fact start curating ourselves far before the onset of the final third?