As an experiment, I wanted to visit the same place every day, for an entire year, to see how that experience affected my perceptions—I would see how the place changed over time, and how each of my senses revealed different aspects of it, and how making a daily visit changed me.
Research shows that people who try new things and go to new places tend to be happier, but I think that the pleasure of doing the same thing, every day, shouldn’t be overlooked. I agree with writer Gertrude Stein, who wrote: “Anything one does every day is important and imposing.” [From Paris France (Amazon, Bookshop)].
I can be rigid—I am an Upholder, after all—and often my rigidity makes it hard for me to lighten up. With this exercise, however, my rigidity works to my benefit, because for me, doing something every day is much easier than doing it “whenever I felt like it” or “some days.”
For this challenge, I needed a place I could easily visit, day after day. A large place, a beautiful place, and an inexhaustible place. And so I decided on the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Met is a treasure house within walking distance of my apartment—seven minutes, I timed it.
Of course, I realize how utterly fortunate I am to be able to do this project. Sheesh, I live five blocks from the Met! And I have the time and the freedom to spend my time visiting it! I’m so grateful for that.
But here’s the thing: I’ve lived within walking distance of the Met for years. The fact that I could visit was no guarantee that I would visit. The museum had always been there, waiting, but I’d mostly ignored it.
For me, the Met was an untapped possibility that I was eager to explore, and I wondered if other people felt the same way. I asked on social media:
This year, I’m visiting the Metropolitan Museum every day. For me, the Met was an untapped resource—now I’m taking advantage of it. Do you have a similar place you’d love to visit daily? An interesting neighborhood nearby, a park, a campus, a road? Or a place you already do visit every day? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a place like this, of course. I’m grateful every single time I go.
I was astonished by the flood of answers I received. I’d assumed that my desire to visit the same place every day was fairly idiosyncratic, so I was surprised by how enthusiastically people embraced this idea. I heard from many people who already made daily visits, or who liked the idea of making daily visits, to places such as:
- the beach
- Mount Auburn Cemetery
- Denver Botanic Garden
- horse barn
- Wimbledon Common
- public library
- local park
- Grand Central Terminal
- neighborhood pathway system
- various riverfronts and lakefronts
- Morton Arboretum
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- grounds of the National Museum of Korea
- hiking trails
- a castle!
If you’d like to read more about my Metropolitan Museum daily visit, I go into more detail here.
When I started this experiment of making a daily visit, I had no idea what to expect. Spoiler alert: I love this visit. It’s a highlight of my daily schedule. I may visit the Met every day for the rest of my life. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotations:
Everything gains in grandeur every day, becomes more and more unknown, more and more beautiful. The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is.
— Alberto Giacometti, Giacometti: A Biography
Do you have anything similar in your life? A place that you’d love to visit daily?