How to become an explorer of the world.

For my 21st birthday, my best friend got me a book that made me squeal in excitement. As I tore off the pink (thank you) wrapping paper, the title “How to be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum” by Kerri Smith showed through. How well she knows me, I thought, as I turned over the front cover to look within.

The book contains 59 different explorations that you can do within the comfort of your own little world. In exploring your own little world, you are encouraged to see it in a new way. Everything from found objects on the ground to items within your grasp, to wandering aimlessly, contributes to world exploration. The book asks your to hang up your hang ups and really, truly take it all in. More than anything, the book seems to me an ode to the beauty of life hiding in the details, in the things that people tend to ignore. It asks you to look for structural differences and also for similarly shaped items, to listen, to look, to think. The book encourages the reader to give over control of certain experiments, to let the “fates” decide, if you will. I love this book, and I think its exactly what I need.

Recovery has sparked in me a desire to explore. A need to look beyond the classical conceptions of the world, to step outside of a box that I constructed over years of isolation and rules. More than anything, my disorder stood between me and the details, between me and the potentially absurd. Instead of looking beyond, I was shrinking my world into a neat little pillbox that I could stuff into my pocket and forget. As I now see that such limitations were not serving me well, I’m curious to explore the possibilities that life can offer. Such a book as this is a jumping-off point for many explorations to come.

While suspending convention and giving in to the imagination is easy for some, like small children, to most of us this doesn’t come so easily. And while I’d begun to explore through meditation and such outings as coffee-shop sitting on my own, sometimes we need something like this book to jump-start the exploration. Sometimes we just need someone to say that it’s ok to explore, that it is a good thing to give in to the imagination in the right place, at the right time. And while this need for external validation speaks to a completely different problem, I think its ok to seek inspiration for the bizarre in a book like this. So off I go, to read my book and explore my world.

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