Today I went to an art museum! It was free with my college ID so I went with a couple of friends. I have only gone to a few art museums in my life, but not out of my own disinterest–rather out of others’ disinterest. I was very excited, especially because of the size of the museum we were going to.
I felt entirely humbled by the age of some of the pieces there, specifically the jewelry. I don’t know much about fashion or jewelry, but some of the pieces, specifically from the ancient Egypt section (some as old as 3000 BCE), were both stunning and ordinary at the same time. Meaning, while beautiful, they seemed just like a necklace a person of today would wear. The stones were bright colors, smoothly sanded and strung on thin string. The beads were intricately carved and the rings had designs I’ve seen at Claire’s–like a snake that wraps around the finger. The necklaces and other bits of jewelry were ancient, but seemed no different from the jewelry of today.
It made me think about how similar and yet how different humans are from one another. While we have enjoyed putting strings of pretty beads around our necks for millennia, and while similar practices have been found in most if not all cultures worldwide, if an ancient Egyptian met a person of today it would be as if they were meeting an alien.
Likewise, if we were to encounter a person from fifty years ago it would be incredibly difficult to communicate. Cultures change so quickly. I am not who I was ten years ago, and in ten years I will be different still, but I will wear necklaces. And I will still like to write, and like music. Some fundamentals won’t change. But maybe I won’t like bananas anymore, and start liking tomatoes.
I think it’s both important to find out what these core values are in ourselves. If we can figure out what about us will (likely) never change, we can get closer to who we really are, beneath all the fluff and stuff. That is, if there is something deeper beneath the fluff and stuff. That is, assuming the core doesn’t change as well.
As I was looking at the beautiful necklaces and trying to imagine how the weight would feel on my shoulders, I found I spent a lot of time wondering about the necklace’s history, specifically it’s past owners. Who were they? Were they women or men? Were they rulers or peasants? And the necklace itself, did it spend years in a box, in an attic? Did it spend some years worn lovingly every day, only to be lost between couch cushions and found years later?
The only permanent things about the necklace are also the only things we know about it: its age, its origin, and the color of its beads. I wonder if the same is true for me.