(I suppose it's one of the good things about living in Sydney; there are a lot of things to see and explore. But how easy it is to just take things for granted and get into the rut of doing the same old thing, ignoring all there is around us to learn?)
This particular day, we visited the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. It's a unique building with an interesting history including the accommodation of convict labour gangs, a transition dwelling for immigrant women and the judicial system. We entered one room which contained wooden boxes. In each box was the story of a woman who had traveled from the other side of the world to make Australia her home in the 1800s. We opened boxes, read diary entries, lay on the steel framed beds and tried on replica bonnets and skirts. (Okay, the boys didn't do that bit, they were more interested in the spy hole in the wall of the room next door!)
But I got to thinking, isn't that why we like stories so much? Whether they are the true stories preserved in museums or made up stories between the worn covers of our favourite novel? Because by engaging in story we get to 'try on' the lives of others. We wander in our imagination, thinking about what it would be like to have faced similar challenges. Or how it may have felt to walk those spaces and places so different from our own. And how would it have shaped the person we are, or would have become?
We try on the past for size. We try on a fictional world. And in doing so we learn more about who we are today, and what we might become.