Hear the art

by Lesley on December 1, 2010 · 2 comments

in make-you-think

In October I was at Los Angeles International Airport, flying home from Palm Springs after a fun weekend with my girlfriends. A few of us decided we’d eat dinner together in the Tom Bradley international terminal, which sat directly between our separate gates.

As soon as we walked in I became aware of everything; the languages, the hum of activity,  the quickness of step, the sense of both anticipation and exhaustion in the air. I stood in front of the huge electronic monitor that showed all the night’s incoming and departing flights. Manila. Beijing. Sydney. St. Petersburg. Rome. Seoul. Amsterdam.

We were supposed to be looking for a place to eat, but I couldn’t help but look for a place to go.

As I glanced at each faraway city, I pictured the people preparing to hop on the flights. “They must be so excited,” I thought, as if everyone who travels internationally enjoys the experience. Being in the terminal brought me back to my own travel adventures. I walked passed The Daily Grill, where Jonathan and I had eaten lunch with my mom before we departed for China. I looked down on the first floor where lines formed at check-in. I could see Anne and I there, years earlier, as we nervously prepared for our flight to Shanghai. And then of course I heard the clusters of  people traveling together, reminding me of fall 2003 when about 40 of us giggly college kids boarded our flight to London.

There are days when I want to escape, and it’s not because I have a bad life. In fact, I have a really, really good life. The thing about travel though–particulary overseas travel–is that it opens our eyes to a world of new experiences and different perspectives. Somedays, I long for a little change of pace.

On Thursday I was walking to meet a friend for lunch. On my way I passed an old church with a tree covered in leaves; even its trunk. Have you ever seen one of those? I suppose they’re somewhat common in California because I’ve passed that tree many times and never thought anything of it. A group of Asian people exited the church. It appeared they were from another country because they carried cameras and spoke another language. One of them noticed the tree and they all ran over to take a picture in front of it.

There I was, on just an ordinary day, noticing something I never would have before; something another person found exciting and different. It may not have been the Eiffel Tower, but it still caused me to feel a small sense of wonder that I don’t usually feel on a lunchtime walk.

I kept walking until I got to the area near the convention center. There are stone benches lining this particular street and they are etched with the words “Hear the Art.” I almost didn’t notice the phrase. When my eyes passed the first bench, I actually thought it read, “Heart the Art” which seemed odd. I remember asking myself, “Is it Heart the Art, or Hear the Art?”  I stopped and looked closer.

I’ve never really thought about hearing art. When I think “art” I think of something visual; a painting or dance performance. But it doesn’t have to be. Hearing the art means soaking in life with a different perspective. It means peeling off what we know as normal, and seeing it with a new set of eyes. It means hearing when we’re used to just seeing, walking a little bit slower, staring a little bit longer.

There I was again, seeing something I would have normally skipped over. This art didn’t rival the Sistine Chapel but it made me stop and think, which is what any good art will do.

Today I hope you hear the art.

p.s. I did a Google image search for “Hear the Art” and I found the bench! Someone else also saw the words as Heart the Art. Check out the post.

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Loved this post. Especially loved the first part. For the first 18 years of my life, when my family lived in Indonesia, I remember the excitement of traveling home. When we arrived in the U.S. after so many hours flying and were waiting to board the final flight from SF to SB, I remember looking around at all of the American teenagers and feeling envious of them. They only had to fly 2 hours to get home...and they didn't have to leave the county to do so. That seemed so exciting when my status quo was the opposite. It's so funny how circumstances change your perspective. Your writing took me back there. I could feel the dry air in the airport (and my dry eyes from having been awake for 24 hours) and smell the American food I missed from the last year. I remember the jealously - I so wanted to be a normal American kid. Even better, your writing reminded me of my most vivid memory from those traveling days - looking for the California coastline out my window after seeing only ocean for hours. My hope was so expectant. And when I would finally see it, I remember feeling peace wash over me. I was home. After a few days in the states, I always realized that home was a much more elusive concept than a country. I'm still looking for it today. Thanks for taking me back there, Lesley. Love you dearly, sweet friend.


Love this blog entry, Lesley. You're encouraging us to, "stop and smell the coffee," but you say it in such a wonderful way. Thanks for reminding me to, "hear the art."