Have you ever visited the Musée d’Orsay in Paris?
Put it on your list.
It’s one of my favourite places in the world. It was originally a railway station and has been turned into an art gallery on the banks of the Seine. It’s an astonishing building. Quite incredible that anyone would construct a railway station to look like this, but also, quite brilliantly transformed into a gallery.
When I go I like to go straight from the main entrance, down through the sculpture gallery right to the far end of the building where you can find an escalator that takes you up to the fifth floor where there is a fabulous collection of the work of the Impressionists.
Before you get to their work though you pass through the room with the clock in it.
That’s the one I want to share with you today.
Here are three photos I took –
These all stimulate my thoughts about time and how we relate to it. They conjure up my thoughts about “taking time” – in other words, slowing up, savouring, taking the time to fully experience the here and now, but also, taken in sequence, these three images provoke the following thoughts –
Firstly, how good and necessary it is to spend some time by yourself. Remember Julia Cameron’s “Artist’s Way”? I often told people about her exercise of making an “artist’s date” – actually scheduling into your diary a piece of time – it might be an hour, half a day, a day – and there are only two rules to apply to that piece of time – you have to spend it alone (no sharing!) – and you have to spend it doing something you enjoy (no chores!). You should then schedule in a regular series of these dates at a frequency you can manage – daily, weekly, forthnightly….whatever. Whether or not you are an artist, I think this is a very, very valuable exercise to try.
Secondly, how good and necessary it is to spend some time with others. There is something truly magical about sharing an experience with someone else – whether that be a visit to a gallery, listening to song, watching a movie, having a meal – we are social creatures, we human beings and sharing experiences with others makes our heart sing.
Thirdly, when we lose ourselves in something….a view, a book, a creative act……we experience “FLOW” – what Czikszentmihalyi wrote about in his study of happiness. It’s that time when we are “in the zone” and time “stands still”. Just gazing through this clock to Montmartre is an entrancing experience.
Isn’t strange that time doesn’t pass at a constant speed? Despite what clocks seem to tell us?