I’m no stranger to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s one of my favorite places in New York. Yet a recent visit made me feel like I was in an unfamiliar place.
Typically I go with one of my friends and we choose a specific exhibit we want to see. The current popular ones are about Cubism and, in the fashion arena, “Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire.” While both were interesting, we didn’t linger in either because we weren’t compelled to dwell or immerse.
Instead, we wound up playing and wandering. We floated and flitted through majestic rooms, sweeping sections. What a grand experience.
I live riveted to finding the fresh in the familiar.
This felt like a metaphor for other moments in life. The old standby restaurant where maybe we order something different or deviate from our usual section in the dining room. The park we visit and focus on that intricately detailed gazebo instead of the playground because the kids are in school.
Sometimes I notice something new just by looking up when I’m walking in my neighborhood – an architectural detail that got by me before or what appears to be a rooftop garden. Magnificent.
That recent day in the museum, I particularly enjoyed lingering in the light-filled gallery featuring European sculpture and even pausing to snap a photo of Andromeda and the Sea Monster. Sometimes I find smart phones to be intrusive and an unnecessary diversion, but in that moment I saw an opportunity to capture her with the blue sky coming through the sky light above.
Also, the phone came in pretty handy when I wanted to refresh my memory on the story of Andromeda in Greek mythology (Wikipedia: Andromeda is stripped and chained naked to a rock as a sacrifice to sate the monster, but is saved from death by Perseus). A few moments of enrichment courtesy of a creation from 1694.
There was also a human moment, where we chatted with an employee of the museum about Oscar de la Renta, the iconic designer whose funeral service was in that moment being held just blocks away at a church on Park Avenue. She told us about her encounter with him on a visit to the museum, how gracious he was and how down-to-earth. Fleeting thoughts about a man, an artist, who had just left this world.
The whole afternoon made me feel full.
I’m starting to think I need to endeavor to do this more. Go somewhere I already like and make a point of seeing it through new eyes. That’s one of the most energizing things about bringing kids along on our adventures, isn’t it? Even a sailboat or a fire engine can seem novel when a child lights up and points to it, eyes wide.
That’s a feeling worth aspiring to over and over again. Wonder. Joy. Appreciation of the seemingly ordinary.
I believe we can cultivate it. I know I have.
By Nancy Colasurdo