Growing up in the 1950's & 60's in a suburb outside of Boston, MA, I reaped the benefits of a well-supported public school system. Instead of dealing with budget cuts and removing opportunities for students, the town and school committee seemed to always be looking for ways to improve our education. We often went on "field trips" and since Boston was only about 30 minutes away, our busses pulled up to any one of the wonderful museums frequently.
I don't remember the first time I was "exposed" to the arts, but I remember feeling like the Museum of Fine Arts was a familiar and comfortable place by the time I was 10 years old. My fourth grade teacher had introduced us to the great painters like Renoir, Gaugin, Picasso, Matisse, and Monet. However, the museum opened up my eyes to art being more than just paintings.
I was fascinated by the connection between art and history. I loved seeing rooms set up with the original furniture from a particular period. Pottery, dishes & jewelry from all over the world intrigued me.
Then, on a trip to Symphony Hall, I discovered that "fine art" wasn't just objects. Now, it expanded to music which led to dance and a whole new, bigger world.
Google defines "fine art" as:
creative art, especially visual art, whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.
"the convergence of popular culture and fine art"
an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment. "He'll have to learn the fine art of persuasion"
As I finished up my second cross-country road trip recently, I started thinking how much I appreciated my friends. Not only do I have long-time friends whom I cherish, but everywhere I go, I meet and make new acquaintances that become part of my "tribe". On my trip to Australia in November, I stayed with people I've met in just the past year or two. On the road, I often have a kindred spirit open their home to me, even if just for a sleep-over. Once back in Boston, I've already had breakfast, brunch or dinner with local buddies and I've got some upcoming "dates" with others over the next few weeks.
My point is that friendship is something I treasure and respect, just like a beautiful masterpiece. They both stimulate and support me and my senses. They fill me with joy and they help me expand. I value them equally.
Having friends also means putting in the time and effort and cultivating something meaningful and special. In this way, it's the fine art of friendship. Just like I would make the time to learn more about an exhibit or a performance so that I could fully understand and appreciate it, I give my relationships the same attention.
This time of year, especially, as you take in the splendor of holiday decorations, remember to also bathe yourself in the blessing of having pals, confidantes, colleagues, peeps -- however you think of them. They are right up there with the Mona Lisa in their magnificence.