I once asked an art museum guard what he did with his mind all day while standing tall in a doorway, watching people look at statues and paintings.
“I think pretty thoughts,” he said.
I didn’t press him further, but I got the point. He focused on pretty thoughts to get his mind off what might have been unwanted thoughts –boredom, perhaps, or resentment, physical discomfort, emotional pain, or even grief.
A Lavender Getaway
Basically, I did the same thing last week when I escaped from Los Angeles on the first anniversary of the death of husband, Lance. Lung cancer got him sometime after midnight on January 2nd, 2013, so on New Year’s Day I drove up the coast along the Pacific Ocean and then up a road into the mountains to Ojai where I had a reservation at The Lavender Inn.
I spent the next 24-hours soaking up every corner of this lovely place, sitting in garden chairs, writing, taking pictures, and filling my mind with pretty thoughts instead of ruminating over memories of Lance’s miserable last weeks in an LA area hospital ICU, and the picture I have trapped in my head of him dead.
The next morning I went out on my balcony and looked down at the beautiful garden and another sparkling California day. In other parts of the country snowstorms were raging with record-breaking cold.
I was blown away by this painting of a painting on the garden wall.
Tempus fugit. It was check-out time already. I packed and went downstairs to pay. I bought a coffee mug with “The Lavender Inn” and picture of a lavender Adirondack chair on it. I’ve used it every day since I got home.
I hadn’t told anybody at the inn why I was there, but I did write in the guest book that I’d came to honor the one-year anniversary of my husband’s death. I had hoped for a lovely, quiet, peaceful and pretty place. I was not disappointed. It was perfect.
After I checked out, I did a bit of sight-seeing. I walked around town and then was lured into a tiny restaurant by the smell of quiche lorraine. I ordered it.
There’s something about getting away, even if only for a day, that can open up the brain and let some new, even pretty, thoughts in. So when you’re trying to fend off unpretty thoughts, the ones that are like bees around a bee-keeper, just skip town. Drive north, south, east or west. An hour or two. You are sure to see something pretty. It will make you feel better.
On the way out of Ojai, I stopped to take just one more picture in a shop window. It made me smile. It was cute. Maybe that’s the kind of thing that museum guard enjoyed thinking about.
(c) Sylvia Cary, LMFT
All photos in the post by Sylvia Cary