Your cabinet of curiosities
I was a bit young to be waving a real war sword around the dining room, but if my grandparents were going to leave it in the giant, old fireplace, what did they expect from a kid who thought pushing boundaries was her calling?
Then there was the “yard of ale” glass that took pride of place on the wall which I always wanted to drink from but never managed to. (It really was a yard long, and given how much I struggled with strawpedos in my teenage years, I don’t think I’d have hacked it.)
In the lounge, the other fireplace was surrounded with strange black (and kind of creepy) side-profile pictures of our ancestors. Because… that’s normal.
And upstairs, there was a life-size clay sculpture of my actual head which had unfortunately blown up in the kiln. (To this day, I don’t know why someone sculpted my head but it happened.)
Basically, old people’s houses are FULL OF WEIRD STUFF. But you know what else they’re full of?
If you ever run out of ideas for what to write / create / share next and then find yourself venturing outside your own life-and-business bubble and hunting like a truffle pig for:
2) Validation for your existence
Then it’s time to open up your cabinet of curiosities.
I read about this in Austin Kleon’s f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c book, Show Your Work, the other morning and had to share it with you. Especially because it’s so on-brand. *smirks*
In 16th and 17th century Europe, many of the wealthy and educated had what was called a Wunderkammern, which translates to a “wonder chamber” or “cabinet of curiosities”. This served as a place to display the trinkets and treasures they’d collected from around the world. Jewels, art, books, artifacts, that kind of thing.
The cabinet of curiosities was their way of saying to others: This is what intrigues and delights me, does it intrigue and delight you too?
Unless you’re a pensioner, you probably don’t have an actual cabinet of curiosities in your home (although it will be peppered with items you could put in one).
But it doesn’t matter, because you certainly have one in your brain. I’m talking about:
The places you’ve been.
The sights you’ve seen.
The people you’ve met.
The experiences you’ve had.
The food you’ve tasted.
The music you’ve heard.
The quotes you’ve memorised.
The influences you’ve let shape you.
The decisions you’ve made.
The mistakes you’ve lived through.
The successes you’ve made happen.
And the stories you can tell based on all of those.
So sure, you can go searching for inspiration outside of your unique bubble…
Or you can dig something out of your cabinet of curiosities and tell an intriguing and/or delightful story about it.
When you do, you won’t just be telling a story, you’ll be sharing a tiny piece of your soul.
And in an online world where it often feels like marketing is a transaction rather than an experience, a tiny piece of your soul could be exactly what people want, need, and are willing to pay money for.