An Afternoon Excursion

On a welcoming blue sky day, I argue there is no prettier city than Chicago.  It was incredible today, walking down Michigan Ave today after meetings, headed to the Art Institute.  Vats overflowing with fresh flowers, autumn ready gardens, throngs of tourists and locals, segway tours, cameras pointed up-down-around.

The destination was the photography exhibit of Henri Cartier-Bresson.  Incredible, iconic, historian, traveller, this Frenchman showed the world everyday life in countries around the world: Ghandi’s funeral, behind the Iron Curtain, New York, Paris, Italy, Indonesia, Shaghai, any traveller’s dream and his sometimes nightmare.  His hand-held camera captured the sexy body parts, the horrors and reality of war, the poignant portraits,  the beautiful-the plain-the bosses-the servants-the workers-the drinkers-the watchers-the forgotten.

It was an incredible show.  If it comes your way, plan to spend at least an hour learning, laughing, loathing. his appreciation for the frame, the math, the juxtaposition of lives, the darkness, the light, you will remember it.

My sister and I also took our first walk into the newer modern wing of the Art Institute.  Jaw-dropping architecture showing off our wonderful skyline, a plethora of natural light so reminiscent of the Musee O’rsay in Paris (a former train station), the incredible colors popped from the canvases.  Other than guards, we were the only visitors in several galleries–so quiet, so vibrant, so inspiring.  Wow, we kept saying.

light and space in the modern wing

I don’t understand all the modern art–some seem so simple, so juvenile–but I reveled in much of it.  I recognized many of the works from their old locations in the Museum, but seeing them all together was breathtaking.  Picasso, Matisse, Klee (one of my favorites), Magritte, Pollock, so many others.  One room had fascinating architectural drawings, even a sampling of modern-designed fabrics–perfect for my home.

mini Picasso sculpture with the real Skyline in the modern wing

Too many times an art exhibit comes to this breathtaking city, a musical I want to see, a new restaurant and my schedule is too busy to fit it in, or it escapes my mind until too late.  Today reminded me to take a break, to explore what is offered.  It is worth the afternoon.  The inspiration is worth it.  And the escape.  C


Galloping Towards Your Dreams

I recently finished two very different books about setting goals and searching for your dreams.  The first was The Alchemist by Brazillian author Paulo Coelho, which has sold over 20 million copies.  This book is a fable about searching for your Personal Legend (always capitalized), and how we can get lost and then found along the way. And when we think we’re lost, it may simply be part of the journey.

I appreciated the simple writing style to tell this tale of Santiago, a shepherd who meets a king, a witch, a shop owner, an Englishman, and the alchemist on his expedition to discover his Personal Legend (PL) and love.  I agreed with some tenets of the book including:

  • Encouraging our children to follow their dreams
  • As adults, can we rediscover our passions? (more on this another day)
  • We should trust the “omens”–and our instincts, they are interrelated, in front of us 
  • The risks we take while searching for our PL will help us to grow
  • There are reasons why some people purposely choose NOT to follow their true dreams

One clear mesage in the book is that “There is a language in the world that everyone understood…It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”

While I agree with his message we should try to  search out our dreams and passions, I found this book very preachy and repetitive.  There are nuggets of wisdom sprinkled in the book, but there is no subtlety about the importance of searching for the PL; it’s very much in-your-face, the words Personal Legend repeated throughout the story.  Yes, I know that the story is about this search, but don’t take the reader for someone who can’t remember it without writing out Personal Legend, Personal Legend, Personal Legend again and again.

I then read Shy Boy by Monty Roberts, who is a true horse whisperer, horse gentler, and now inspirational speaker .  At over 60 years old, Roberts man wants to follow his dream of catching on film how he “joins up” (his word) or gently breaks a wild mustang.  For centruries, horses have been cruelly broken, and he wants to demonstrate that this inhumanity isn’t needed, in his life goal to “leave the world a better place, for horses and people.”

The story is fascinating, as he talks about the joining up of Shy Boy in conjunction with other horses he has gentled and people who have inspired him, as he impacted thier lives during his speaking engagements and reading his autobiography, The Man Who Listens to Horses.

As he sets out to meet up with Shy Boy, he says “Still,  I felt relaxed and as ready as I would ever be.  If I failed to accomplish my dream, I thought to myself, it would not be because I hadn’t a chance at it.” Very similar message to The Alchemist.

The two books have many similarities–a hero  who has overcome a hard childhood, both are in continual search of their dreams, horses play a big part in their journeys, and they absorb all the beauty–and cruelty–that surrounds them. But I found Shy Boy more inspirational, perhaps because it  was true, I  enjoyed the wirting style more, and I didn’t feel the message was rammed down my throat.

And the photography that chronicles the story is amazing.  The photos are a similar style to what I like to shoot, and they are brilliant.  The photographer Christopher Dydyk only had one chance to capture the moments, and he did it throughout the book. Some of his work, including pictures of Shy Boy, can be found on his website.

It was fascinating to happen to read two books about following dreams back-to-back.  While written very differently, there were definitely similar themes throughout the books.  Perhaps reading these two books were “omens” that I should get on the path to search out my true Personal Legend.  Maybe this blog is the start of it. Only time will tell. C