Lost in the Met

I woke up this morning with a strange feeling I get quite frequently–when life is so busy and yet still at the same time, the disorientation somehow creeps into your sleep and, upon waking, you feel as though you’re in a foreign body. This has happened on and off even hours after waking up. I’ll stop at the train station, waiting for a train and think “whose hands are these?”

I read the other day that, in order to keep our brains challenged, we should step out of routine, go in search of new scenery to blaze new neuronal pathways and associations in the folds and creases of the three-pound powerhouse that is the brain. Interesting, I thought, because in many ways, my being-lost has taken place in my comfort zone. In the bedroom where I sleep. In the daily driving routes.

I had this thought in mind as I met a friend of mine this morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the city. Before she arrived, I sat on the steps and watched a musician play the flute as girls in school uniforms passed by in waves, giggling and grabbing each other by the hand. Four different tourists asked me to take their photo. I imagined, for a moment, I was a part of their shared intimate moment. I snapped shots of couples holding hands, and a young woman sashaying down the street in her boots and daisy-duke style shorts, bangles clacking on her wrist. I felt happy, found in the strangers around me.

So, perhaps when one is feeling lost in life, in the mind, it helps to get lost in unfamiliar scenes. To walk into a crowded room of strangers, step outside your thoughts, and reexamine your coordinates from there, from the spinning strangeness.

My friend arrived and I felt an old self return. I thought to myself, I wonder what she’s thinking: “There’s Shannon.” Shannon. Who is the Shannon she sees? Certainly not the one in my head.

I met her to participate in a project she’s conducting called, A Month at the Met. For every day of the month of September, she goes to the Met and writes, creates. Then reports back on her blog. Alongside her creations, she’s inviting others to co-create with her. Today was my day.

We wandered around the European Paintings and waited for the right moment to sit and write. Where do I feel most inspired, I thought?

At first it was quite difficult. I guess I felt the pressure to come up with something. But I kept telling myself, just take in the scenes, take in the art. Listen to the other observers, walking about. Live this moment.

As I began to do this, a barrage of voices started clamoring for my attention. At first it was a little overwhelming, but I imagined them as waves and let them wash over me and through me and on to the next room.

Where were these voices coming from? Not actual, audio voices, but impressions, I guess you’d say. Where were they coming from? The paintings themselves. Dabbled here and there by the other onlookers.

I wasn’t me, really, for a while. Not the girl lost in her own head at home in the lost-forest, wondering about her direction, her work or her worth. I was more me, I suppose, as I was fully focused on the art. And the art was fully focused on me, or so I imagined.

The voices of the faces coming through. The El Grecos and the like. I imagined I was, instead, a young girl in search of a burning goat. Where this came from, I don’t know. The Last Sacrificial Goat, to be exact. Alas, there was none to be found in the paintings. (expect a poem regarding the girl in search of the burning goat, soon).

So I sat, finally, in one of the first rooms we entered, circling back around after the maze of rooms. This room had 7 paintings of ceilings opening up to heaven. I liked the idea that there were holes in the walls, almost to another dimension. My friend said that the paintings were probably meant to hang ON a ceilings, and not on the wall as they were displayed. But the distortion interested me. The twisting of views. A new perspective.

I felt as though I wanted to touch every painting. Or lick it. Or walk through. And as Alice was transformed by going through the looking glass, for a moment, I felt transformed, too. But the disorientation did something to help me feel less lost, more found.

And I think tomorrow I may talk about how, going back to the childhood joys can help one feel found as well.

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3 Responses to Lost in the Met

  1. Pingback: Photos & wayswearelost Update « Little Wordlings

  2. These photos are incredible. Amazing post.


  3. “But the disorientation did something to help me feel less lost, more found.”

    Interesting– maybe it’s that when you/we are oriented in a familiar place, the place holds our identities, allowing us to be aware of our fragmentation/lostness/whatever. When we/you’re disoriented, the body has to hold the sense of place, it has to gather the new perspectives– in being a vessel for the new, it has to be centered, found…

    (just a hypothesis. ;- ) )


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