The Museum of Broken Relationships

Photo by Una Laurencic on

Synchronicity is a concept that was first explained by psychiatrist Carl Jung. I had some synchronicity visit me recently. I keep a small notebook of ideas for poems. Some entries are just titles.  Last week, I was paging through them and came across “The Museum of Broken Relationships” which I scribbled on a page back in 2014. Good title, I thought.

I went to my online collection of short-form poems and wrote a poem to that title.

The suggested donation to enter is expensive.
Each of us has our own gallery.
Mine is dark. Poorly lit. That’s intentional.
Letters, drawings, paintings, postcards, photographs – many poems.
It’s okay to touch. No one cares.

I always add an image to those poems, so I did a search on that title and was surprised to find that such a museum actually existed.

Carl Jung defined synchronicity as the idea that holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship and yet seem to be meaningfully related.  I’m not sure of the meaning here, but it does seem meaningful. Like interpreting a dream, I started considering possibilities. I was recently sifting through a box of old letters and emails I had saved. Some could be regarded as “love letters.” As someone married for four decades, I wondered to myself the wisdom or lack thereof in keeping these combustible pieces of paper.

I could have donated them to the actual Museum of Broken Relationships. It was a museum that grew from a traveling exhibition revolving around the concept of failed relationships and their remaining ruins. It started in Croatia in 2006 and became a permanent museum in Zagreb in 2010 and a new Los Angeles location opened in 2016. It closed in 2017 and it seems to still be closed but the website can still be viewed.

The idea was that you could donate an exhibit along with a title, the duration/dates of the relationship, the city/country of origin, and an accompanying story. Your personal information remained with the staff, so your exhibit is “anonymous.” The collection had no restrictions on content and ranges from a single object – a letter, a photograph – or several items, or a video or audio.

Along with those old letters, I have some mix tapes I made back in the day that chronicle relationships starting, building, and ending via songs and some of my narration.  It might be therapeutic to write the stories of those failed relationships.

We all have small museums, virtual and actual, of broken relationships. Sometimes we hang on to the exhibits even though seeing them is unpleasant. Reminders are important. Lessons learned. Roads taken.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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