As readers of this space may remember, Dunreith, Aidan and I spent his spring break in Madrid.
The trip was notable for a number of reasons.
First, Aidan had some kind of pneumonia the entire trip-a factor which added to his general discontent on spending his last weeklong vacation in high school with his parents.
In one of his more memorable lines, when he learned several weeks later that I had caught some bug that had me on my back for 24 hours, he replied, “That sucks. Let me drag you around Spain for a week.”
In case you are keeping score, the tally on that exchange was son, one, father, zero.
The Prado was one of the many places to which we lugged our decidedly less than thrilled young man.
And, to be fair, he enjoyed it more than I believe he thought he would (This may have something to do with his expectation level, which was about two feet above the bottom of the Marianas Trench.).
For those who have not been to the Prado, it is truly one of the world’s great art museums, stately, rich, and with a collection so large that one cannot possibly take it all in a week, let alone a few hours in a single afternoon.
In fact, the experience of entering the place can be a bit daunting, sort of like the Costco of the art world, except you’re looking at some of the most magnificent art humans have ever produced rather than samples of bourbon chicken, a 25-pack of razors and more almonds than you could eat in a month.
Be that as it may, one of the works that made the deepest impression on me came from legendary Spanish painter Francisco Goya.
Goya has plenty of work in the Prado, and deservedly so. Yet the work that struck a deeply resonant chord in me was not one of his most famous.
Rather it was of a bent old man with a long and full white beard walking with two canes, one in each hand. The man is moving away from the darkness behind him and into light, although part of his legs and body are also cast in shadow.
The title: Aun aprendo.
In English, this means, “I am still learning.”
By this point in his life, Goya was himself an old man, living out the final years of his more than eight decades on the planet in exile from his beloved homeland in Bordeaux, France.
The man’s body in the painting shows all the ravages of time’s inevitable advance and toll. Yet his commitment to learning, and thereby to growth and, ultimately, to life, remains intact.
Goya’s unbroken commitment to creation and the work he produced inspire me, and nudge me to continue to strive to learn, even when the learning is new and unfamiliar and hard.
It’s getting late, and I’m going to turn in soon.
After all, I need my rest.
Tomorrow is another day, and there’s more to learn.