Summary: “Doing the modest things that are expected of all of us is enough.”
Welcome to the second of a series of art posts, derived from the ‘Art as Therapy’ show written by John Armstrong at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
This famous painting by de Hooch is very out of synch with its status … because, above all else, it wants to show us that the ordinary can be very special. The picture says that looking after a simple but beautiful home . . . watching over the children . . . and doing these things faithfully and without despair, is life’s real duty.
This is an anti-heroic picture, a weapon against false images of glamour. It refuses to accept that true glamour depends upon amazing feats of courage or the attainment of status. It argues that doing the modest things that are expected of all of us is enough. The picture asks you to be a little like it: to take the attitudes it loves and to apply them to your life.”
I once had an artist friend who created “The Lucky Duck Club.” I was a member. Carole made art badges for each of us. One that I remember fondly was called “the normal living badge.” You could get it for brushing your teeth, for making a cup of tea for you and a friend, or remembering to breathe ten times deeply in a day. “The normal living badge” is what De Hooch is reminding us to reclaim, here in the kitchen parlor; the simple act of giving and receiving between adult and child.
Another way of looking at this is how to make sacred the mundane. I think there is no grandiose answer. It’s just about doing whatever is before you, or being in the moment with your authentic self. The ego is on vacation.
How might you reframe the modest aspects of your life?
What normal living badges might you give yourself?