The Spirit in Things

A survey was conducted by the City University of New York asking people, “If the Mona Lisa was destroyed in a fire, which would you rather see? A perfect replica of the masterpiece or the ashes of the original? Eighty percent of respondents chose the ashes of the Mona Lisa.

It wasn’t even a close call, was it? What does that tell us?

When we see IT – when we stand in front of that Picasso or Kahlo – it is about so much more than the paint. Sure we can lean in and see the strokes. But there is something else – something magic – afoot. Do you have any items in your home crafted or used by someone dear to you? That toddler chair built by grandpa. The recipes in your mother’s hand. It is not about the retail value of these things. What makes these things priceless is the sense that the creators’ contact with the objects – their attention and love – somehow become an intrinsic part of them. Their spirit touches us when we hold them. Or when we stand in front of them at a museum.

Our surroundings are alive in many ways with the gifts and expressions of those who have come before us. We hold what someone else held. It matters. The experience is not about logic but about connection.

Perhaps there should be an ‘Antiques Roadshow’ equivalent – called ‘This is Special to Me Roadshow.’

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