On my desk sits a hairbrush, a battered silver plated thing that I think was a christening present. I suppose it really should be in my bathroom but I rarely brush my hair with it. Its just something that has travelled with me wherever I’ve gone. Shortly after I arrived in California it occurred to me that I could not be alone in my attachment to a meaningless and (as my hair increasingly recedes) somewhat useless object.

And thus began the Rosebud Project, named for Citizen Kane and the quest for the meaning of his dying word - Rosebud. Which of course in the end is revealed to be his childhood sled.

Was he wishing for the innocence of childhood? Was it a symbol of when his life changed forever (the sled’s first and, until the end, only appearance in the film is on the day he is sent away from his family as a boy). Was it something he kept to comfort him as he grew older? Its up to the audience to decide.

And so it is with personal Rosebuds. Some think of it as the object they would grab if the house burned down. Some, like me, have something that really has no meaning beyond an attachment they cannot understand. If the house burnt down I would not be running to grab my hairbrush.

Others have objects and family heirlooms that hold great significance for them. Others have personal symbols of their achievements. Some found their Rosebud in their adulthood and some people regard an abstract ideal to be sacred to them. In the end, it can mean whatever each of us wants it to mean. 

The great epiphany was to discover that the project allowed people to tell me a story about themselves and that this story was what mattered.