This past weekend, an event called Open House New York gave access to a multitude of buildings across the city, including one right in my neighborhood. I look at the Ford Foundation every day, quite literally. I see it and wonder two things: what do people do in there, and what does it look like?

According to their website, the foundation’s goals are to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.

Which I translate to mean—I’m seriously underachieving.

As I wandered around the 11th floor of the building, admiring the architecture and beautiful views of the East River, I was surprised to also see artwork from Nelson Mandela. I hadn’t known he was an artist. (How often I am surprised by what I don’t know. Isn’t that a beautiful thing, to still have so much to learn?)

Called The Struggle Series, the artwork is a study of his hands.

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What’s interesting is as I stood looking over these works, I felt a deep connection to each one.  Though they tell the tale of his life— struggle, imprisonment, freedom, unity, future—I understood how each was applicable to stages in all of our lives.

This is the essence of art; it binds us together with a common ground. We may not be literally imprisoned, but so many things can hold us captive.

These were my two favorites:

Freedom.

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Have I mentioned freedom is my word of the year? Let go of what no longer serves you.

And, future.

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The future holds promise.  As Mandela writes, “…now we look to the future, knowing that even if age makes us wiser guides, it is the youth that reminds us of love, of trust and of the value of life.”

Such a beautiful sentiment.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

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