Recently, a good friend and I went to The Leonardo museum here in Salt Lake City to see the exhibits. We had originally opted to go while Leonardo da’Vinci’s work was actually on display, but with deaths and illness and all that I went through during the last month, there was never time to go, so we missed that. Still, the museum was kinda interesting.
The one thing that I loved the most was in the entrance of the museum – even before paying to enter! It’s a work of kinesthetic art called Hylozoic Veil:
I actually gasped, stopped, and stood in the center of the lobby, staring at the ceiling, transfixed, and utterly captivated when we walked into the museum. The sheer expanse of sparkling white lights amongst the ethereal material of the display caught my attention and held it, breathlessly.
After paying the entrance fee, we could ride the escalator to the two upper floors. The Hylozoic Veil was hung from the ceiling, three stories from the main entrance. It dangled down so that, when you stood at the balcony on the second floor, you were eye level with part of it and when you stood at the balcony on the third floor, you could gaze over the whole thing.
On the second floor, I neared the Hylozoic Veil in awe. I so wanted to reach out and touch it. I really wanted to feel it. But, we were in a museum where touching is discouraged – as it is, with most museums. I got as near to it as I could and I stared at it, enthralled with its gentle movements and fluttering, feathery extensions. I could tell there was intense science, math, and engineering behind the entire contraption and I simply didn’t care. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
And then… it responded to me.
My friend gasped and said, “Look! It’s moving!”
Sure enough, the display nearest to me was responding to my every breath and my every movement. Gently it swayed, lifted, and floated as I moved and breathed. When I breathed intentionally in its direction, its movements were more dramatic. I played for several minutes like this before my friend started walking away.
When we came back, after seeing all that was on the second floor, I went straight to my friendly spot with the Hylozoic Veil and started breathing deliberately in its direction. There was no movement on its part. I moved and danced and breathed. The Hylozoic Veil did nothing. I stood still and waited, wondering if the Hylozoic Veil’s action was simply delayed.
I started to feel pouty and, instead, opted to pull up some reserves of joy and giggled happily, while I danced and blew in the direction of the Hylozoic Veil’s sensors.
“Aaaw,” I said with an exaggerated pout, bottom lip sticking out. “It doesn’t like me anymore.”
I turned to join my friend who was several feet away, taking pictures of the Hylozoic Veil. As soon as I made to move away from it, the entire corner of the Hylozoic Veil came alive and she saw it again. The moves were small and graceful, but it was definitely moving, she pointed out happily.
“Oh! It does like me still!”
I was struck in that moment by how easily my perception went from “it likes me” to “it doesn’t like me” and back to “it likes me” again. It felt really familiar to me… similar to how most of my life has gone. Because, I also noticed how much my inner experience fluctuated based on how the Hylozoic Veil was responding to me.
As one who has long practiced the habit of behaving how I think others want me to behave and believing my worth is based on how much another likes me, I have become really willing to be open to seeing where that pattern is still playing out. Believing my worth is based on the opinions of others and therefore, I must perform in some certain way to prove my worth is one of the most destructive – and long-lasting – programs I could be running because it warps my self-worth and sense of who I am.
I thought I had clearly reprogrammed this tape, but apparently it is still parading around in there, waiting to pop up at unexpected moments.
In the past, I would have felt really angry that the Hylozoic Veil had stopped liking me and it would have ruined my night. Then, in the not so distant past, I would have been angry that I had felt angry that the Hylozoic Veil had stopped liking me, but at least it wouldn’t ruin my night.
This time around, when I caught myself sabotaging myself with thoughts of my worth being based on someone else’s opinions – or, worse yet, some animatronic art display – I laughed. And, I continued to laugh for the rest of the evening.
Some habits die hard. At least I’ve gotten to the part where I can laugh.