Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life Choices: An Art Form

Life is like a giant museum:
Full of options.

When I was 19 I went to Paris, and visited the Louvre. It was the first real museum I had ever been to, and it was overwhelming. Our tour guide carried a red umbrella and rushed us from room to room. She told us about Greek vases, Roman ruins and the pyramids, while pointing out various paintings and sculptures. I didn't recognize anything except the Mona Lisa.

I took pictures when everybody else did, and tried to follow what the guide said in her heavy French accent, but I was quickly bored. The tour lasted about four hours and I decided after 30 minutes that museums were not my thing.

A few years later I was reading a spy novel by Helen MacInnes (there are life lessons everywhere.) The hero went to the Louvre for an hour every day after work. He explained to his friend that visiting a museum is like going to a restaurant. Nobody orders everything on the menu at the same time. Choosing from an array of delicacies is part of the entertainment. He said that enjoying a museum is an art form itself.

Artists focus on a particular detail for as long as it takes, and save other aspects of their masterpiece for another time. Likewise, savoring the beauty in one gallery is far more enjoyable than cramming in too much to appreciate.

Life is like the Louvre--too big to take in all at once. James E. Faust once said, "You can have it all, just not at the same time." Eternity is what I need. I can't find time to create the many lives that sound exciting and worth devoting time to, in one short go-round. Choosing sometimes eliminates other choices, and that's the scary part.

I understand now that the red umbrella lady was merely pointing out possibilities. She didn't expect us to experience the whole museum at once. It was a menu tour. We could choose which areas to focus on, study up and return sometime to absorb the significance of our preferred artist. It would take more than a lifetime to study everything that's offered.

A frustration in the Museum of Life is that we can't assimilate everything that looks appealing in one short tour. But we are surrounded by the creativity and expertise of others, and that enhances our own works of art. The Mona Lisa is not the only painting in the Louvre, although it draws a lot of attention. Even she has only seen one gallery in the museum.

This is one of my attempts at symbolism. I'm trying out new writing styles when it feels fun. Don't look for anything too deep. I'm pretty shallow, and not too subtle. But there is a point to this article that I hoped would jump out at you, and give you, an "Ah ha! I get it!"moment. If it didn't, maybe it's not my form . It's fun to try it out, though.


Stie: My Favorite Things said...

Ah ha! I get it!

Excellent comparison.

Ashlee said...

I think you made a great point! Definitely thought provoking as well. Thanks!

Bev said...

"You can have it all, just not at the same time."

I have said to my daughter for many years that you can do it all, just not all at once.

Thank you for reminding me where I heard the idea originally! (really good quotes stick with you long after the Relief Society meeting is over!!)

Sheri said...

Good analogy! Problem is I want to take in the whole museum and everything in it each time I visit. Big problem with my life!

Bridget said...

Great post. And as far as the Mona Lisa in the Louvre....I thought it was so funny to see the swarms of people crowded around that one piece, then they hurry off the check the next painting of their list that they run past so many paintings that are I think so much more beautiful.

moon said...

I'm glad I read this now, I am off to Paris this April, and plan to go to the Louvre a few times while there...but this post makes alot of sense. My husband grew up in Paris, so he has been many times..He told me it was very big..and one really can't appreciate it by going only once..I think he would really appreciate the analogy of a museum being like a restaurant...try something of the menu each time lol...

Holly said...

I'm not sure how I found your blog, but I'm so glad I did. I love it! This post is great. There were several Aha moments. I love museums and while I haven't been to the Louvre, I have been to the Orsay and I loved it. You truly do need to return over and over again. Great analogies.