There were a number of museums that were offering free admission this weekend, so on Saturday afternoon I made a trip to the Museum of Contempoary Art in Los Angeles accompanied only by an ipod.
As I first started walking around the museum, it took me a minute to orient myself- to really realize where I was. I mean, I knew where I was, but to really place myself in the frame of mind that an art museum requires. I began to pay close attention to my reactions. Half smiles? Jerking my head back abruptly so that my chin touches my collar bone with furrowed brow? (Go ahead, try it. I’m sure you know exactly what I mean.) Or just simply looking more closely and reading the small snippets that were printed on the right side of the pieces searching for as much information on the art and the artist as possible?
Each reaction meant something. And though I wasn’t always sure what, each piece that I viewed meant something.
I have decided to make this close attention to my reactions a daily practice, not just on art, but on life. I am making a conscious effort to be aware of how I react to certain things.
Today, for example, as I walked on Main Street in Venice on my lunch break, I passed a couple having lunch. At first when I saw them, as a normal 26-year-old single woman would be, I was peeved. How dare they!? Having lunch together on a beautiful sunny day in California!? And right in front of me… the nerve…
But as I got closer, I could hear bits and pieces of their conversation and I could read the emotions on their faces. This was not as pleasant a lunch as it once had seemed. My reaction? Satisfaction. I am ashamed to admit it, but I have to: I was almost giddy with the idea, not that they had to have this type of conversation but, that I didn’t. Pleased as punch.
Then later on during my walk, I encountered an older couple walking their small poodle-looking dog. As I approached, I realized that this dog had only three legs. It is only now, as I recount this for you, that I realize that I did not for one second wonder how this dog lost its fourth leg. My reaction was one of sympathy and sheer amazement at the resilience of animals. There was no limp or favoring of the opposite leg. It just learned to move on, quite literally.
Whether it’s couples eating lunches or dogs with three legs, or perhaps it’s palm trees bending in the wind and rain, or maybe it’s a gigantic pothole in the middle of the road you take to work every day, the point is, there are millions of things out there waiting to be reacted to and to be given meaning.