I can’t wait to live in Paris.

The culture, the fine art, the food.  Okay so it was mostly the food, and the fabulously dressed people that I get to watch. But the food.  The pastries.  The cheese.  The bread. Oh, essentially anything that can relate to high quality butter. And wine.

Now I have finally been inspired to be excited for the arts.  The architecture, the music, the musée.  It only took two hours of being forced to walk through the National Art Gallery and REALLY look and the art for me to be convinced.  I actually liked it.  Not that I didn’t think I would, it’s just been a while since I’ve been in a museum or art gallery.  I assume that memories of slowly walking through galleries as a child and being perpetually frustrated because of lack of slides, food, and noise had tainted my perception.  I did also rush through the Met a year ago on a whirl-wind trip to New York.  I discount that trip, however, because I had to motor through one of the grandest museums around in all of one hour.  When you breeze through a gallery without actually giving yourself time to observe any work of art, it seems even more dull.  Like walking aimlessly through a maze of hallways for an hour, thinking about nothing but the cafe you saw on the way there (on the upper east side of course).  Fortunately, this tuesday, that was not the case.

The first work of art that I “responded to” was the Louise Bourgeoise, as we were required to do.  Fortunately, spending five minutes staring at this contraption did NOT seem like an eternity.  I credit the multidimensionality.

The notes I took on this piece look like abstract chicken scratch, or maybe a collection of Haikus.  Evidently I was trying to be “edgy” in my analysis.  To my current dismay, I didn’t give much consideration to the re-reading step I would have to take.

I will attempt to share with you the essence of my thoughts on the meaning of the Bourgeoise:

– The common goal is to reach the top, and there is more than one way to get there.

– Everyone strives for the top because it looks like freedom, there will be do cage to restrict you once you reach the top

– Some people will never reach the top. Their hopelessness weighs them down.  The large, cracked spheres at the bottom of the cage represent these poor unfortunate souls.  Their size could be interpreted as the volume of suffocated people at the bottom, compared to the few who make their way upward.

– There is always a conventional and an unconventional, or unique way to get where you’re headed.  You could quite obviously, take the stairs.  It’s long, and it’s hard, but it’s tried and true.  Some unique individuals don’t follow the path, and they make it.  These, to me, are the bubbles.  They are eventually set free.  The hope and positive energy derived from the creative route to escape the cage can be seen in the brilliant hues of blue.

– Why did we enter the cage in the first place? There is a door.  It seems as though the only thing that holds us back, is a self-inflicted restriction.  If we saw it early enough, we could have just left through the door.  The restrictions, rules, and conventions that have been created around our lives and organizations are kept together by a fabric so fine and breakable (the thin threads keeping everything in place on the inside of the structure, barely visible), and yet we don’t see that we have the ability to tear them down.

The piece of Art that I chose on my own, did not feel heavy like the Bourgeoise.  It certainly didn’t have implications toward the conventions of the modern organization.  It was simple, and made me smile.  I wanted to live in it.

My favourite paintings are the ones the take me somewhere I’d rather be.  A break from all mental and physical stresses.  It’s like a mental vacation.  Even if I’ve never been somewhere like the place portrayed, the mood of the scene strikes a common chord.  That is most certainly how I experienced this Monet.

It caught my eye without the necessity of detail.  I didn’t see the scene or the story it would tell, just the colours and the brush strokes.  I was looking for something that just made me think “pretttttttyyyyyyy”, complete with the big dumb smile that one may have seen on my face the first time I ever saw a McDonalds playplace (before I developed the ability to consume consciously of course).  The soft colour and glow pouring out of this painting put me in a partially open-mouthed trace.  It was like a sedative.  That’s how I knew I would be back.

I thoroughly did not mind standing in front of this for ten minutes.  I forgot about the parking I would have to pay for, or the groceries that I would have to buy, or the business plan I would have to write, or the sublets that I would have to arrange for – all to be done later that day. I do slightly wish that there had been a chair in that particular room though.  I got tired of standing, and sitting on the floor in jeans was mildly uncomfortable… not to mention awkward for the one quiet security guard that I had been sharing the room with.

Regardless of uncomfortable jeans, I still managed to respond to this work of art:

– Everything about it seemed pastoral and infinite, as though the pleasantness that is this setting could extend forever.  The trees themselves have no end, and everything in the background looks as though it would be equally beautiful if I were to wander deeper into the wood.  We don’t actually know what lies deeper in the wood, but we know that whatever it is, is happy.  The lavender and cherry pastel colours told me so.

– The colours he used give the scene it’s atmosphere and convey all of its emotion.  They may not represent the actual colours that Monet observed while on the bank of the river, but they convey the warmth he experienced.

–  I love the shadows.  They are not very dark, but instead soft.  They add texture and comfort.  For some reason it’s as though they secure he fact that the infinite bliss is real and attainable.  As though if this amazing place has gently cast shadows, it’s clearly real.  They prevent the brightness from being overwhelming.  They cool you off on an uncomfortably warm day.

–  The image in the water is as clear as the original scene itself.  An ode to the tranquility of this place.

–  No blossoms are actually present in this picture, but it made be think of them.  I could smell a cool summer day.  Those clean, subtly sweet outdoor smells.

From my perspective, it was the colours used that gave the scene context.  This painting emphasizes the palette used.  In any other situation, one would not see a riverside scene in lavender, soft cherry, and periwinkle, with hints a yellow.  The relationship between the trees, the sky, the grass, the water, and the two boys is changed by the context that the colours give them.  Their colours are normally so different, each element is one in itself.  Strong brown tree trunks would disrupt the green of the grass which would looks sharp against blue water.  Typically the presence of the two boys would be yet another intrusion.  The colour scheme implies a sort of symbiosis.  It’s like a universal calm.  Everything that rests by this riverbank is relaxed into a harmonious flow in the moment that Monet captured.  The brush strokes only add to the coalescence of each element.  The scene means something new because of the way it was painted.

Yes, I rarely ever give myself this type of un-interupted time simply for observations. I do, however, have my own forms of meditative concentration.  The things that I am most passionate about consumer my undivided attention.  The outdoors.

As an athlete hailing from this place, dedicating at least one hour a day to running outside, focusing on this and breathing, is a necessity.  With cell phones, facebook, email, skype, blogs and twitter I don’t know what kind of person I would become if I couldn’t take a bit of time to plug into something that is not electronic.  The other two things that I lend my attention to in the way that I lend it to the outdoors are, as of recent, my guitar and my kitchen. Certainly my family and friends, but typically they have to share me with the kitchen or the outdoors.  These things matter. The extra time is never time wasted.  If I felt this way about my movement and my followers, hypothetically, I would have to accomplish my goals.  If I lead something that was as true to myself as the lakes behind my house, fulfillment would be inevitable.

It’s fair to say that I wish everyone felt this way about nature, about each other, and about what they chose to put in their bodies.  To me, these are the things that deserve our attention.  Without our attention, they are neglected. People quite often don’t pay enough attention to things that have always been here, because they assume that if they’ve always been, then they’ll always be.  Ignorance fails to address the fact that they won’t always be.  If all we are concerned with is everything new, there’s nothing to prevent the old from slipping away.

In my future, If I lead with the quality of attention that my goals deserve, I think my world will look like this.

As beautiful as ever, but with enough people standing at attention.

Oh yeah, personal photo credits on the last two. No big deal.

The people are the stalks of grass. I didn’t need to tell you that…

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