[Quiet Thoughts] Beauty in the Break

Photo: This piece is called Dragon in the Clouds: Red Mutation by Takashi Murakami, and it is just breathtaking. It’s on exhibit right now at the MFA in Boston. When the boys and I rounded the corner and took it in, we came to a full stop. It’s really quite incredible to behold. I highly recommend local readers take the time to head down and see it in person. Those of ya’ll in far flung places may want to be on the lookout for Murakami’s work at an art museum near you. It’s totally worth the trip.


It’s the Friday of February Break, so I and every other mother in the state woke up this morning looking for something to do. These children need occupation. They are driving us crazy. Thanks be to God for the warm weather mid-week, which provided us a whole entire day of outside entertainment so kids could get the ya-yas out.

We needed to get out of the house today in a real sort of way. I offered up the MFA yesterday and the boys rejected it. “We’d rather make our own art,” they said. Fine. I made it happen.


That entertained for a few hours, which was helpful. But today?

“How about the aquarium? We haven’t been there in forever!”

I woke up this morning to take a gander at aquarium prices. It would have cost me $40 to park and nearly $70 to get in. I know I’m spoiled from a lifetime of free Smithsonian visits, but that is just incredible. If I had planned ahead, I might have been able to access a discount pass thanks to my local library. However the discount is no longer specified, so I don’t know how much I would have saved. Meanwhile, the MFA is admitting kids free all week, so the $25 I paid for my ticket felt like a steal. Parking also felt like a steal at a mere $22 (which is about as much as I would have paid to get on the train).

The boys were less than thrilled. I offered them McDonalds breakfast to get them out the door (saving me the need to bake). They reluctantly accepted. We listened to a story podcast for kids as we drove into the city. They ooo’d and aaaah’d as our country-style landscape transitioned into a skyscraping cityscape. I remembered my urban driving skills, ducking and dodging parked trucked and rogue pedestrians. I wondered what Grandy would think of this thoroughly modern field trip we were on and my ridiculously suburban life: hashbrown-smelling Sienna, podcasts to keep the kids entertained, Google telling me which ways to turn. Lordy, it’s a straight-up sitcom sometimes.

We parked and walked to the front entrance, and that’s when Ursa Minor remembered where he was. “Wait, I remember something. I hated this place! This place is full of the scary stuff!” (Longtime readers will recall that Minor didn’t enjoy his last visit to the MFA. He found the Copley collection, most of the Asian art wing and the Ancient Egyptian artifacts to be terrifying.)

My Quiet Thoughts are about how motherhood is part coaxing, part coaching, always introducing and shepherding. The first hour of our visit was on the basics: inside voices, don’t touch that, no dancing please, you have to look at the things to enjoy them, it’s really not that scary… but as we reached hour two, both boys really got into it. We discovered that furniture can be art (Major: “what’s with all the fancy couches?” and “why are there dressers here?”) and the Ancient Egyptians were Black (Minor: “Mommy, that hieroglyphic looks like you!”–bwahahaha, can’t wait to rub that in The Husband’s face tonight). The boys got to see two great paintings of George Washington (who is their favorite character from Hamilton. They just had to see him. They were… surprised? They weren’t quite expecting what they saw. A side note: it’s going to be really hilarious to explain to this generation of children that, with a few notable exceptions, those Founding dudes they are going to learn about in school were actually rich white guys).


It was Minor’s stamina that cut things short. “My legs hurt. I’m tired,” he whined. He’s 6 after all. I told them we had to see the Murakami exhibit before we could leave, as it is a visiting exhibition. That spurred a million new questions, of course.


We talked about the real-life artists in their lives who are doing real art right now, including my dear friend Tracy at the Happy Owl Glassworks, who I highly recommend you visit. She does such beautiful work. We talked about my sister and her boyfriend, who also do beautiful art. It was nice to remind the boys that art isn’t just a thing they visit, but something they can know and do if they want to. Art is all around them in really wonderful ways.

As much as I love fish, I’m so glad we spent time at the MFA today instead. Visiting with art is an invitation to see the world a little differently. Especially for these little boys, heading into the city and spending time among so many different types of objects and ideas (and people!) will always, always result in good things. I don’t need my boys to be artists. I don’t need them to be a “certain” kind of cultured. I just want their little brains to have something to hold onto and remember later. Who knows what may come out as a result?

It’s a soggy Friday here in Massachusetts. The dusting of snow that fell last night is melted. Cold mud remains. Birdsong has been heard and there is activity on the tree limbs. My neighbor swears he has seen buds. I don’t really believe him. This is a world begging for transition, but the wise need only look at a calendar: it’s still February. March is a winter month in New England. False summits are the worst. Breathe into the last few weeks of the season, taking it for what it is as we anticipate the next season to come. It will be here, inevitably. But not yet.

Fridays are for wishes. If you are a mama who is in the last hours of February break, I wish you smooth sailing and easy field trips. May the kiddos be kind to you as you keep them entertained. May they hold onto some of memories you are trying to make for them. I wish you all a look at green grass emerging from the snowpack, new seeds delivered in the mail for winter starting (we’ve gotta get a jump on ours!), and the honk of migrating geese or the song of a returning bird. Allow yourself the indulgence of a sneak preview. Line up some brighter colors for the lovely days to come. I wish you time with a good friend and maybe a funny mishap to make for a good story later. Unexpected things happen, Dear Reader! Roll with it as best you can! I wish you time with a little art: of your own, at a museum, of a friend, or even done by nature. Let your eyes behold the possibility of beauty this weekend, Dear Reader. Record it if you can: with a picture or a note to yourself. Bonus points if you take in some art and then transform it into art of your own. When it all feels bleak and the world feels like it’s coming apart at the seams, art and artists have the magical ability to save us all. Mostly from ourselves. Maybe that’s half the battle, Dear Reader.

You are a piece of art, too, you know. Spend time observing yourself and what makes you so beautiful. Yes, start with the mirror. Love every single part about you, including the things that you hate. See yourself, fully, and fall in love. Then spend time with the rest of yourself: what makes you laugh, and cry, and give and do… what makes your light shine so brightly in a world that dims by the minute. Polish and shine your light this weekend, Dear Reader. Remember that you are loved and there are people who are seeking your light as a guide in this darkness. Simply be who you are, your best self, and the rest of us will follow. Isn’t it wonderful to be infinitely beautiful?

Until Monday, take care.

One Comment Add yours

  1. That George Washington photo, with the close up of the horse’s ample back side cracks me up. Makes me wonder what it was supposed to convey.

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