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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Artifactualy Authentic

A couple of years ago there was an exhibition at the Royal Brtish Columbia Museum on the titanic. The whole point of the exhibition was to give you an interactive experience and allow you to have an up close and personal encounter with the story of the titanic. There were replicas of the different rooms in the ship, a cold chunk of ice that you could touch to feel how cold it was the ship sank and many other things. What interested me most was that the exhibition featured artifacts that had been dug up from the bottom of the ocean.

Some of the artifacts could be laid out in the open for anyone to see while other artifacts were behind glass cases. But it was the reason that they had to be behind glass cases that I found the most interesting. To the naked eye, they seem like normal everyday items e.g. china, silverware, vases etc Nothing really out of the ordinary, until you took note of a little sign explaining the reason that these items had to be incased instead of out in the open.

The artifacts had to be incased because they had been at the bottom of the ocean for so long that it caused the actual chemistry and molecular structure of the object to change. If any of these articles were to be exposed to air, there would be a chemical reaction that would cause the object to dissolve. I found that pretty fascinating when I was there looking at these beautiful plates that had been brought up. They looked rock solid to me and it was hard to believe that they would dissolve if exposed to air.

But I think that this makes a great analogy on the subject of authenticity. Being authentic is something that I am challenging myself to do more and more each day. Many of us are from a first world culture where looks are important. The idea is that if that person looks and talks right then underneath they must be right........right? Dead wrong.

I cannot tell you how many times I have taken people at face value and gotten involved only to find out that I was being played and people were displaying what they wanted me to believe they were. It gets difficult at times because we don't have that problem here in Argentine. Argentine society is very much "in your face". What you see is what you get, nobody is trying to create an image, they are too busy trying to get by in day to day life.

And I want to be a person who people can count on to be genuinely everything that I am displaying. Not like one of those beautiful pieces of china behind the displays that look pretty but will dissolve when taken out of their controlled environment. I don't like dealing with people who are like that....nor do I want to be one. My hope and prayer is that my life will be as honest, transparent and authentic as possible. And that I won't be one who looks pretty but is unable to cope due to lack of character and will dissolve the moment I get removed from my safe controlled environment. I'd choose a good set of dishes from Walmart anyday.

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