This time of year is filled with hope for a New Year that is better than the last. I know there are several improvements I’d like to see, beginning with a radical shift in the dark cloud that has seemed to hang over my head.
The turn of the year symbolizes a new life, a new opportunity, and we often state our hope for the best in terms of New Year’s resolutions. We want to put the old year behind us and look forward to a new beginning, a new start to being a new person. We want to do better this year than last. Although we could use the adage: ‘This is the first day of the rest of my life,’ and use any day to begin thinking and doing as a ‘new person,’ it does make sense to begin being a new person at the beginning of the new year, when we and the calendar agree, so here we are.
I’ve seen facebook postings of various kinds: ‘I’m not setting any new resolutions because I haven’t completed those I started last year,’ and ‘I’m making resolutions for everyone else this year, that’s easier than trying to keep my own.’
Well, this post falls in that latter category. I’m going to encourage you to make one resolution for interpretation of your site. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and I think you’ll like it. Here it is:
Keep the main thing the main thing, because the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Thomas Merton said, “People are like crows, they will chase anything shiny.” And he’s quite right, even when applied to interpretation. We chase anything that draws a crowd, any new trend, any fad, and any electronic gadget. If the local city park has a successful pie-baking event, then we want to do that, too. It can be hard to keep the main thing the main thing.
The hardest part may be deciding just what your main thing really is – (that’s a multi-day workshop of asking and answering simple, thoughtful questions and seeking deep answers.) At your site, do you know what the main thing is, really? The reason you exist and the historic or natural resources that give your site meaning?
Once you have identified that main thing, Study all aspects of your site. Does your site focus on the main thing throughout your site, or are some areas chasing shiny things? – Management? Interpretation? Gift shop? Signage? So that the visitor has an experience focused on your main thing and leaves your site understanding the deep meaning and value of your site, without confusion.
The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.
A very happy new year to each of you.