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November 2011

The List: Number 114 – See Monet’s Water Lillies in person.

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I’m not an art buff, and I don’t know much about art history, either. What I knew about Monet’s Water Lillies was that he painted many gorgeous oil paintings of a water lilly pond in his garden. I loved the idea of someone exploring the same subject over and over again, and these are meant to be amazing. I knew that in Paris the Musée de l’Orangerie has on display some of the larger murals of the series. I had planned to cross this off there, in Paris.

Instead I stumbled across one rather blindly at the Tate Modern here in London. My mind was quite blown, and I hadn’t quite realised how many of these there were. In the last thirty years of his life, Monet painted approximately 250 Water Lillies paintings. And they are on display in museums all over the place.

I was shocked to come across the one that I did, and I wasn’t quite sure I was seeing what I thought I was. The little placard on the side removed any ambiguity. I sat, and I admired for a good long while. Taking the time to look, and think. To wonder.

It was a pretty profound moment for me. Sometimes I put things on The List and hope that they will be great. That I’ll get what I want out of them, hope that they will in some way enrich my life, provide perspective, and growth. Make me a better person. A more interesting person. I wasn’t sure that seeing a painting would do that, except that it did. I can’t (and won’t try) to explain how, but it did.

Number 114 on The List, done.