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Adventures with Jackson Pollock

My friend and I are waiting in line for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, also affectionately known as the Met. We are on a mission to look at her favorite piece of art. Autumn Rhythm (Number 30) by Jackson Pollock (1950).


My friend takes off her backpack and sits on the floor in front of the 8’9” by 17’3” painting. I do the same. Our casual chatter that has carried us through the museum levels off and we stare. This is her painting. And I feel fortunate to experience a small bit of it with her.


I begin to look deeper. To notice colors, shapes, movements. We’ve been sitting for some time. There’s nobody around now, so I uncross my legs and splay them out in front of me. There are only so many positions in which one can sit on a museum floor in comfort. Later, after more time passes and my eyes are fully immersed in the painting, does it hit me like a bolt of lightning: I want to write.


It has admittedly been a while since I wrote. Wrote, wrote. Not for Smile Project or for my job. But wrote, wrote. For me. So long, in fact, that I’d stopped carrying around a notebook and pen. Resigned that part of me to a different life. Considered myself anything but a writer.


But now it was almost frantic. Who doesn’t carry a pen and paper with them!?


Newly energized, I jumped up, determined to grab a museum map or napkin or anything that even slightly resembled parchment, when in walked a mother/daughter duo.


They sat down on the bench next to my still-floor-sitting friend. (To clarify, the bench had been full when we arrived, hence the positioning on the ground.) I was immediately taken by the way they walked side by side and talked in low, museum appropriate voices. And yet also by the animated gestures of the little girl.


The mother looked at her. How does it make you feel? she asked, in reference to the painting.


Adventurous! exclaimed the daughter.


Adventurous? Hmm… the mother paused. It looks like how my mind feels sometimes. Going a million different directions.


Upon this exchange, I knew my quest for paper was unimportant. I jotted a few notes in my phone to remember the moment. About how adults see something as all over the place and children see things as adventures, as opportunities. I snapped a delicate picture while maintaining the family’s privacy. And I watched as they were joined by their friends.


Later, my friend and I would talk about the mother and daughter and the sweetness that radiated off their exchange. I would think about what it meant to be inspired by art… and then to be inspired by people. I would think about what it means to have honest conversations about the way something makes you feel and how our perspectives can change the way we experience the world.


My personal world has felt like a series of big life changes for the past several months. And while the adjusting and growing and organizing and thinking and settling and moving and dancing and laughing and and and… while it can sometimes feel like it’s going a million different directions… it can also feel like an adventure. If I choose to see it as such.


And given the choice between the two… if it’s going to look messy and joyous and fully alive anyway, it might do us well to embrace it as an adventure, not as a problem to be solved.


Love always,

Liz