I have a friend who always knows exactly what to say, how to say it and when to say it. He’s one of those people who knows what I need before even I know I need it. My unintentional guardian angel.
A year ago this past June, I returned to London after being away for almost 2 months trying to make some major decisions about what it was I wanted out of life. And though still somewhat uncertain about the future, I had quit my career, applied for a graduate program in fashion and started this lovely little blog. It was all just for fun. It was all just because I needed to do something different. It was all just because I felt like I had been missing out on the world around me while I was frustratingly focused on all the wrong things. So, of course, I threw a party. What else is there to do in moments like that?
This aforementioned friend was one of the first to arrive. And with him, he brought a little wrapped gift. ‘How To Be An Explorer Of The World: Portable
Art Life Museum’. I’d never seen the book before. I didn’t know what on earth it was. But it was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever been given. His inscription inside said that it was for when I needed a little bit of inspiration for my blog. And also drawings of some small fascinators (hats, to all the Americans reading this) with horns made out of an anti-depressant drug :) I may need to point out that it is customary to always follow-up something serious in the UK with something ridiculous.
This amazing book is really a journal and workbook that helps to guide you through your day-to-day. It encourages you to stop and use your senses; to find the amazing in the overlooked; to analyze as both a scientist and an artist. The author pushes you to look at the world around you as though it is brand new, learning about it (and yourself) in a new light. Everything is interesting. It’s just all in the way you are looking at it.
The author starts by stating the rules (mostly that there are none as long as you open your eyes) and explaining that this book came about when she couldn’t sleep one night and began to make a list of all the things she has learned from the people who have shaped her passion for exploration. A ‘warning’ on the back cover reads:
To whoever has just picked up this book. If you find that you are unable to use your imagination, you should put this book back immediately. It is not for you. In this book you will be repeatedly asked to…suspend your disbelief, complete tasks that make you feel a bit strange, look at the world in way that make you think differently, conduct experiments on a regular basis, and see inanimate objects as alive.
‘How To Be An Explorer Of The World’ is my manual when I’m having a moment of frustration, writer’s block or just a bit of boredom. Even if you don’t use it as a proper work book, the exercises within push you in both small and large ways Using all of your senses, you observe outwardly and then suddenly inward. It isn’t a self-help book. It’s a silly and thoughtful way to make sure that you don’t waste moments feeling uninspired. Maybe sometimes we just need to stop and listen to the world around us.
I began to write this post because I wanted to share this book with the world. But actually, I think I really wanted to create an ode to my friend. He always seems to be listening when you don’t think anyone is and he inherently knows how to bring joy just at the moment you think you’ve lost your way. And I really hope he knows what kind of gift that is to all of us.
You can purchase the book here to help start your journey.