We all keep lists.
Mental, scribbled on the back of an envelope, or neatly docketed in our phones, these lists remind us of the many things there are to do each day.
And the most intriguing thing about these lists is that they’re never completed. No sooner do we accomplish one task — make bed, prepare proposal, pick up bananas at the grocery, call the client, fill out tax forms, write Aunt Emmeline — then we address another.
Dishes, laundry, appointments, homework, work assignments, meal preparation, shopping, meetings — these never end. And while not all items on our list are unpleasant — shopping’s kind of fun, isn’t it? — the list itself can become a taskmaster, determining our thoughts and actions all through the day.
Rarely, if ever, does one write, “Do nothing,” on a list. Or, “relax.”
And yet, these latter two tasks, which aren’t tasks at all, are vital to our well being, our sense of serenity, our mental and physical and spiritual health.
The artwork, After the Bath, invites us to put our lists to the side and immerse ourselves in the quiet of the moment. A young woman sits on a stool next to an elegant shelf and seeks a hairpin to hold up her tresses. There is no specific time by which she must find this pin, and if she does not find it at all, the situation will not be calamitous.
The search is a gentle one, her pose is relaxed, her mind is calm. She has just emerged from a relaxing bath in which, we presume, she luxuriated in delightfully steaming water. The feeling is one of quiet, serenity, tranquility, and repose.
Ahhhhhhh . . .
You know, if there’s no other way we’ll do it, maybe we should write “relax” and “do nothing” on our daily lists.
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