We arrive at the MET’s American Wing fountain around 11:45 AM. We are on a treasure hunt of sorts. What I don’t expect is how emotional this fountain will make me feel.
Our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was conceived six months earlier after I discover a gorgeously written book by Patrick Bringley, a security guard who spent ten years working at the Met. A writer by trade, Bringley finds himself adrift and seeking answers after the untimely death of his beloved older brother at the age of 28.
He finds a path forward through his experience as a guard and the art and people he encounters there.
One morning in April, I leave the book sitting on a side table in our sunroom. A little later, I walk in to find my sister, Cat, reading it. As many of you know, I live in a multigenerational house with my husband, mom, and sister. (Story here.)
“You can’t get too absorbed in my book, Cat. I’ve got to take it to my gig this afternoon.”
“Ok.” She presses it against her chest and tells me, “I’m only on page 17 and I love it so much.”
Another copy arrives on our front porch the following day.
“I had to have my own copy,” Cat says.
Pretty soon my mom reads it and then my hubby Bill.
We decide it would be cool to see the art Bringley writes about. So we plan a trip. By the beginning of October, Cat has created an incredible guide book for us—an art tour of the museum based on the art Bringley describes. She has copies printed for each of us. This is no small feat.
On Friday, Oct. 20, the four of us fly to New York.
The next morning we arrive at the MET at 9 AM to enjoy this less crowded time, as Cat has bought us memberships (thank you, sister!) for this advantage, and to eat in the members-only restaurant. Non-member peeps can’t get in until 10 AM.
To give you some idea of the size and scope of the MET, it’s the equivalent of about 3,000 average New York apartments. The rooms generate in front of you and then vanish behind. I get lost on my way back from the bathroom and ironically have to have one of the guards walk me back to my previous location.
My mom being 86 can’t be one her feet for 6-7 hours, so we take turns scooting her around in a wheel chair.
The museum. Is. Awesome.
Almost 3 hours in, the halfway mark of our tour, (lunch is next!) we arrive at the American Wing wishing fountain. The fountain is situated in a vast light-filled space dotted with statuary.
“There it is!” Cat and I exclaim.
There are pennies scattered at the bottom of the fountain, relics from other wish makers. A bronze statue spouting water graces the middle of the fountain.
Cat pulls from somewhere on her person two pennies for each of us. She has thought of everything.
It’s a small moment in the book that we want to emulate. As a security guard, Bringley observes many little moments from those who visit. Like the mother who stands before the American wing fountain and hands her child two coins: “One wish for yourself,” she says, “and another, just as big, for someone else.”
So with Bill filming on his iPhone, Cat, Mom, and I hold out our pennies, one in each hand. We pause, make a wish for ourselves, and then another, just as big, for someone else, and we toss our pennies into the pool. (See video below!)
Our eyes well with tears as we feel the power of this simple act.
As you approach this Thanksgiving, I invite each of you to make a wishing fountain of your own Thanksgiving table. Put out some pennies and tell your family and friends: Make one wish for yourself, and then another, just as big, for someone else.
Amidst all the unrest that surrounds us, we need those big wishes now more than ever.
Click the link below for video: