Clenched Teeth

Alice and I made a get-away trip to Chicago last week. We stayed downtown within walking distance of the Chicago Art Institute for 3 nights. This is approximately the same time of year we went last time, and it really works out well for us. The art institute is never empty, but it is far less crowded this time of the year, and especially so during the week. We got there early enough that if we knew exactly where we wanted to go, we could have a substantial amount of time all alone in some of the galleries.

I really enjoy these trips to the art museum. Steve Jobs said you should try, “…to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then bring those things into what you’re doing.” The Chicago Art Institute is a good place to expose yourself to the best things humans have done.

As I wandered around trying to absorb everything, I found my shoulders getting tight and my teeth clenching. There is so much, and so deep, that after a while my brain goes into overload. That said, I often find that the things I remember best from the visit are from the times when I’m just on the edge of exhaustion.

Besides visiting the art institute, it is good for us to visit a major metropolitan area now and then. The diversity of people, lifestyles, food, clothing, and habits are refreshing. We live in a small enough community that we all get to know each other pretty well, and the surprises are limited. Back in Chicago, I was walking towards the back of the museum gift shop when John Lennon’s “Imagine” came on the shop’s sound system. I was grooving to it as I was walking when I saw one of the clerks dancing to the music. I smiled and struck up a conversation and learned she was born in Scotland, and raised in Uganda and Kenya before coming to the US. Her use of the language was excellent, and she was very knowledgeable about her topics. It made me grateful I’d stopped and smiled and said hello.

We are so fortunate to be able to live in a place where we can stretch out and cherish the natural world, but after only a 7 hour drive, engage with one of the world’s great cities. And now that we are retired we have the time to do it now and then. I’m already thinking about what I’d like to see next time.

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