Monday, October 15, 2007

The Next Gasp


Now for a limited time, you can see the Louvre (or a reasonable facsimile) without updating your passport.

And so people came in by the bus loads Saturday, filling the parking lot and cramming into the entryway to purchase their tickets for this special exhibit.

But it was too nice a day to spend indoors, if you ask me. Never mind that I hadn't been to this particular museum in nearly a decade — and never mind it's not often I make it back "that way" — try as I might, I just couldn't bring myself to walk through those big glass doors for anything other than the occasional restroom break (in which case: thank goodness for free public art).

You see, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has a rather impressive general collection — particularly relative to the size of the city — but it also has one sizable advantage over most other art museums: it isn't landlocked by concrete.

So not only is general admission free, but the surrounding gardens are free for the traipsing. And so: rather than find myself alone among a sea of faces inspecting ancient Roman art... I kept to the trails, where I was (quite literally) alone with my thoughts.

***
For 90 minutes, there was no one but me. No one but me and, for a brief 30 second encounter, an old man who shuffled his feet to walk. We smiled at each other: he as he exited the greenhouse, and me as I stooped down to photograph random wildflowers (forgive me, I don't know the names of most things).

We walked onward to our respective destinations: that proverbial nowhere and everywhere, just... wandering... hoping (or so I imagined) our random paths might lead to whatever it was we were looking for.

And I did find something out there that day: things I'd forgotten about. The sound of my footsteps crunching over leaves and through pebbles. The smell of an autumn breeze jaunting around the bend. The chattering squirrels and the occasional shout of a child somewhere far off in the distance: ("Look, Mom! A waterfall!").

It is funny how these sounds sometimes echo, rousing us out of that proverbial lethargy as quickly as they return us to it. Waking and sleeping, waking and sleeping...

You keep walking; thinking. You shake your head so as to work loose the toxins, but find yourself stumbling upon the same thoughts and images time and again.

You bend down to pick up a red leaf, its chlorophyll restricted to the ravine along its veins. You spin it stem-first between your thumb and your index, drinking in the smell of it before you return it to the ground (but this time: a little off the path, so no one steps on it) and move onward, as before.

Just walking. And thinking. And kicking dust up with your shoes, filling the air with fog and your lungs with the painful anticipation of your next breath, which you fear — somehow — may never come.

8 comments:

Mariposa said...

fantastic. it's interesting to me how many times i catch myself forgetting to breathe. it's supposed to just . . . happen. sometimes it doesn't.

Unacademic Advisor said...

Nice.

disgruntled world citizen said...

my dad and I are going on Friday. Looking forward to it.

XOXO said...

I'm so glad you were able to have those experiences, all the while I should have been entertaining...

Anonymous said...

we went down there a couple of months ago. it was pretty hip. I had never been. only did the indoors thing. that day was really hot and humid. would like to see the grounds someday.

ds

M@ said...

I went to Indianapolis once. Awe-some!

Pamela said...

interesting about the leaf. tonight I drove in late- and it was misty outside. When I closed the car door there was a colored leaf stuck to my door. I had a similar reaction to it as you did to yours.

disgruntled world citizen said...

The exhibit is quite nice. I went yesterday. I'll tell what's even nicer than the free admission to the general exhibits... its the free parking. I don't mind paying a couple bucks for the exhibits, its the parking that honks me off (pun intended).