It was Jack’s 62nd birthday yesterday and he wanted to go to Mass MoCA (The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) so that is what we did. I don’t understand most modern art, or appreciate it the way that Jack does, but he was in heaven as we walked from one abstract piece of art to another, and I had a wonderful time seeing his wheels turning as he took it all in.
My sister was telling me the other day that she had just read an article about people’s reaction to art, (art that they didn’t understand), and that one of those reactions was anger. I didn’t see anyone yesterday that looked angry at the art, but I did see and hear some dismissive, derogatory gestures and comments.
Anyone doing something radically fresh and different, or proposing a new way of looking or thinking about the world, is going to be criticized and misunderstood at some point in their life. It has always been this way. At a basic level, the “tribal mentality” doesn’t want its members to step out of line and be original.
But we are here to wake up spiritually, and this means stepping onto the path that is felt by the heart…even when not fully understood by the mind, and sometimes when it is rejected by those around us. Do you remember the line from that song by The Animals, “I’m just a boy whose intentions are good, oh Lord please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Maybe our new song should be, “I’m just a gal (or guy of course) whose intentions are good, Oh Lord, thank you that I’m so often misunderstood!”
“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood”. Ralph Waldo Emerson (from his essay, Self-Reliance)