The problem with words

Posted by
The problem with words

I have a problem with words.

If I don’t write them down, at least occasionally, they start to clog up my brain. I start losing focus. There are too many ideas intersecting and veering down dead-end paths. At least a few of them deserve to travel their intended path and arrive at a destination. Most don’t, but there are a few that seem like they truly are worth pursuing.  If I neglect them for too long, they get lost in the traffic jam.

I get lost in the traffic jam. My workbench is a mess: so many half-finished ideas. I can’t create anything new. I’m sick of driving in circles. The only way out is to write.

getty center

The Getty Center sits in the hills above Los Angeles.

One of my favorite places is the Getty Center. I love all art museums, and I’m beginning to realize that one of the reasons why is the lack of words. Yes, there are little plaques with words about the artist or piece, but you have to lean in close to read them. Even the directional signs tend to blend in with the scenery. I love this. I love spending a day without having anyone else’s words compete for my attention.


Space to reflect.

The irony of having to give form to words, in order to clear my brain of words, just to make room for more words. It never ends.


Cacti design.

What I really want is just to see. To appreciate what’s in front of me without the constant narration. To not need to name the plants and stones and shapes. To let a picture be worth a thousand or more measly words.


I don’t know the artist’s name, or the name of the piece. I just loved the sculpture.

Another thing I love about art museums in general – people tend to be on their best behavior. It is like we remember a bit of dignity. Even when being silly, taking selfies with the Van Gogh’s, people at least do it quietly.

The Getty Center in particular shows an amazing attention to detail. The imported stone from Italy. The clean lines. Every plant is placed just so. Nothing is accidental. Everything is intentional. Someone (many someones) gave their full attention to this place. Normally, I have to be deep in a forest or near a large body of water to feel the calmness that nature, the natural order of things, brings. But The Getty, at the opposite extreme, also creates that serenity. The confidence that everything is in its proper place. Even the words.


Words from the garden’s designer, etched in the concrete – hard to read under shifting sand.











Robert Irwin 

He wrote this about his garden, but I think it holds true on a larger scale. For example, creativity. It is always changing, but ever present. It just needs a little space to breathe.

Leave a Reply