One way to measure wisdom is to be honest with yourself. Take the recognition of art. I ‘ve been to scores of great museums where I’ve viewed some of the world’s greatest works: the Mona Lisa, Starry Night, The Thinker and Night Hawks, to name a few. This is not a great accomplishment. Here is what I remember about the encounters with these priceless paintings and sculptures:
Mona Lisa—too small, what’s all the hype?
Starry Night—very blue.
The Thinker—a professional wrestler.
Night Hawks—I can relate.
My visits to art museums were not motivated by an inner desire to experience the agony and ecstasy of the artist, but more a function of school class trips, a string of girlfriends and rainy weather. Now, that’s brutal honesty.
This inner sense that lets me know when I see art developed slowly over time and not by choice. I was taught early on that art is in museums to the exclusion of the art that surrounds us every day. There isn’t a date when art became an important part of me—it just happened over time—that’s about as specific as I can get.
Now I see art everywhere and, in particular, I enjoy the randomness of art in how ocean debris is washed up on the beach, how rocks are piled together on the side of a cliff, or the weaving of color in coastline flora.
While I will still pay $10 to go into rooms with art, I like the free stuff better–that’s honesty.