Had the mixed pleasure of spending a couple of pre-Christmas days in New York City.
The "mixed" part of it was due to how brief a time I and others from the library were there (for meetings). My apologies to all my friends for not even letting you know I was coming but this was practically the textbook definition of 'whirlwind': come up, go to meetings, sleep, get up go to meetings, leave. I do so love New York, as impossible as it is, and it had been much too long since I'd gotten the jolt of being there during the holidays. The streets were filled, the shops along 5th Avenue were their usual glittering astonishments (Harry Winston's sales staff were even wearing tuxedos and floor length black ball gowns), and Times Square was even brighter than usual, if that's possible, making coming away from them to the side streets feel like walking from day into night. There's always something thrilling to me about being in New York, and also something inside me that makes me think "I'm Home!"
I've been curious about recent discussions of how safe the streets are in The City...and how some people think they are perhaps too safe. They miss the mess, the trash, the element of danger being in New York usually implied. Makes me wonder: Is pleasure/enjoyment always mixed with an element of risk? Sadly, the Old Home Place continued its reputation as Bodymore Murdaland this year, with few of NYCs amenities to lessen the pain of the numbers.
I also said something there about the holidays which made me sound like a pro-consumerism fanatic. One of my co-workers complained that it 'didn't feel like Christmas' and I remarked how, as we get to be adults, the fun tends to go out of the season. "We even get boring gifts!" I said. She took my comment to mean that we should be spending more on presents.
What I wanted to say, but didn't say too clearly, was that we should focus on joy, and pleasure, on returning to a state of innocence. We should try to do things that reawaken the sense of wonder and excitement inside of us. I've gotten a lot of 'things' over the years since I've been an adult, but I think I was most touched to get a stuffed bear from one of my friends. And I usually buy myself an inexpensive 'Matchbox' car of some kind (one of my continuing childhood weaknesses) and usually spend a few minutes Christmas morning making that 'vroom vroom' sound as I guide it across the floor or desk.
Make your inner child happy, as well as your outer adult, this season. And it doesn't (or shouldn't) require you to spend a lot of money to do that.
Speaking of Joy and Wonder: Part of the time in NYC was spent in museums, and -- revealing even more of myself! - I was somewhat overcome in the Museum of Modern Art. It was my first time in Yoshio Taniguchi's 'new building' -- a treat in and of itself. In addition to the dazzling Martin Puryear retrospective (up close his work displays an almost breathtaking level of craft and beauty), I wandered through the 'classics' on the museums' 4th and 5th Floors: Cézanne, van Gogh, Matisse (although I'm NOT happy with Dance I being in the stairwell!), Picasso, Léger, Jackson Pollock, Rauschenberg,
Magritte .... a room filled with Mondrians showing his stylistic progression to the jazzy glory of Broadway Boogie Woogie.....the "hits" just keep on coming, one astonishment after another. I was wiping away tears on my way down to the main floor. My Inner Child doesn't get exposed to anywhere near enough Art (bad parent to him that I am) and it was quite a rush to be flooded with seeing so many great works (again, in most cases -- Bonjour, Demoiselles, I'm home!) 'live' and up close (reproductions truly do NOT measure up). A Joyeux Noël indeed!