being lawyers · book reviews · introverted lawyer · professional life

This is my ‘wonder chamber’

If you happened to be wealthy and educated and alive in the 16th and 17th century Europe, it was fashionable to have a Wunderkammern, a “wonder chamber”, or a “cabinet of curiosities” in your house – a room filled with rare and remarkable objects that served as a kind of external display of your thirst for knowledge of the world.

Austin Kleon, Show Your Work

Welcome to my [digital] “wonder chamber”.

I am not comfortable putting myself out there. That might seem odd to some of you who might have been following along my work for a while (thank you, by the way!), but it takes alot of effort. The reason I do it, though, is because when I was studying law (being the only person in my personal world who’d even gone to uni at all) I really just wanted some insight into that world – what it looks like, not the adverts of the universities or anything, but just real, honest, beautifully random insights into stuff about a life in law.

Whilst I wanted this, I didn’t know how to really do this when i’m a true introvert who is super uncomfortable with shining light on myself – at least I can do it behind the comfort of a laptop screen!

Anyway – this is a long explanation of why I read books on putting myself out there, living with imposter syndrome (because I’m not really sure that will ever pass!), putting my work out there, sharing information, insights, experiences, interesting stuff (well, I think it’s interesting), just enjoying things ‘out loud’ and, most importantly, learning out loud.

As I was reading Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work‘ (again), this time this passage resonated with me as somewhat of a reflection of this blog. Particularly as I pick up the metaphorical pen (i.e. laptop or keyboard wirelessly attached to computer) to begin writing again (something I have fallen out of step with of late), it made me consider that this blog is akin to my wonder chamber; or at least I hope it will be.

I read all sorts of things, from all corners of life; law, parenting, creativity, craft, introversion, writing, reading, books, coffee (haha), philosophy, music, poetry… goodness, the list is really endless. This blog is somewhat of my internal reflections that one might normally identify in one’s wonder chamber. A snippet of remarkable things that display my thirst for a life of constant learning; learning out loud.

Kleon, in his book, continues with this and says:

We all have our own treasured collections. They can be physical cabinets of curiosities, say, living room bookshelves full of our favourite novels, records, and movies, or they can be more like intangible museums of the heart, our skulls lined with memories of places we’ve been, people we’ve met, experiences we’ve accumulated… These mental scrapbooks form our tastes, and our tastes influence our work.

When you consider our careers in law, or indeed any career really, it is a sum of all of our experiences, our curiosities. All our experiences make us who we are. Our uniqueness can be displayed in our wonder chamber. These days, I imagine many of our likely wonder chambers exist online, perhaps they exist in your social media feed, posts, LinkedIn even.

Kleon encourages readers, in his book, general openness to your work, and indeed your wonder chamber to inspire and share your journeys with others. This is a pretty confronting concept to most, I appreciate, but I think there is merit to it. There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason to what you post (i.e. put in your wonder chamber); it’s just about what you like, what inspires you, what makes you laugh, what page or group you are following at the moment, what music you like, what you believe in, what art you enjoy; it’s your story. It’s a story of you.

Kleon wrote:

More than 400 years ago, Michel de Montaigne, in his essay “On Experience”, wrote, “In my opinion, the most ordinary things, the most common and familiar, if we could see them in their true light, would turn out to be the grandest miracles… and the most marvelous examples.” All it takes to uncover hidden gems is a clear eye, an open mind, and a willingness to search for inspiration in places other people aren’t willing or able to go.

This all resonates with me about why it’s important to be yourself, your authentic self and to own who you are. You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and you should not want to be. You are you, and there’s no one else like you. Share who you are with the world, live openly, learn out loud.

This blog is my wonder chamber. Treasured things, thoughts and reflections that make up who I am at the time I write them. The best way to connect with people is to be open and honest with who you are and what you like. Be your authentic self.

And, to remember that nothing you (or I, for that matter!) do or express or ‘show’ is truly original. Nothing. Ever. It is always a product of those things that have either taken up permanent residence in your wonder chamber, perhaps, or things that have been moved on from that chamber or perhaps just considered along the way. Collaboration and credit; credit is always necessary. This is why these blogs have reference to the thing I’m reading, listening to, watching and reflecting upon. Nothing I say/write/express is original, it’s all a product of the collection of things, information, insights, experiences that I have taken on board throughout my existence. It’s a true collaboration. So, show who you are, show your work and credit/acknowledge/respect those who’ve influenced you to walk this path of yours.

good work…and creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds

Austin Kleon, Show Your Work


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