This past weekend my husband and I took a little road trip to Washington DC. For several years of my life I lived just a short train ride outside of the city, and for the rest of it I’ve lived within a several hours drive. As a result it’s easy to forget what a destination the nation’s capitol is for so many people
I thought about this a lot as we circled the National Mall twice on our Saturday morning run. Passing the Capital Building, the Washington Monument, many of the Smithsonian museums. Catching glimpses of the White House and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You know, just out for a little run, past things that some people may only ever see in books. My cousins who live in the city and run on the mall all the time, say it never gets old. They’re always aware of the magnitude of what they see in those few miles.
But is that true for everyone? Or does this sense of gratitude and amazement require some cultivation.
We also visited the Renwick Gallery to see the current exhibit, Wonder. It’s nine large installation pieces; everything from sticks woven into giant nests that you can walk into and peer out of, to a twinkling display of LED lights on metal tubing suspended above a stairway, to a rainbow made of thread (which was not particularly photogenic, as per above). Every piece was huge, filling entire rooms of the gallery. You could walk around them, get close to them. It was hard to ignore. They begged to be seen and experienced. But I wonder if you work there and you’re running late, do you just run up the stairs, paying no attention to the sparkling lights above? If you’ve told folks for the thousandth time not to touch that thread in the rainbow, is it still quite as fascinating?
I hope so. But I think you have to be intentional about it, you know? You have to take a step back and a deep breath and focus on the whole beautiful thing, not just that one person stepping a little too close to it. And you have to remember to look up.