Two Gibbons and Me

I first saw this image at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, during the summer of 2010. When I saw this painting for the first time, I remember almost gasping from the gracefulness of the figures and its tragic and comical beauty. Tonight, as I straightened up my room, I found a postcard I purchased that day, and it made me smile.

Two Gibbons Reaching for the Moon, Ito Jakuchu, 1770

The story behind the painting, based on my memory from that day at the museum, is that the gibbons, mother and child, are reaching like crazy for the moon. They are straining and trying their hardest to touch that magical spot of light. Their entire concentration revolves around touching the moon. It’s within reach; they just have to try hard enough.

What they don’t realize is that they are not reaching for the moon.

No, they are trying to touch the moon’s reflection in the water. They are so focused on their idea of the moon, they don’t realize the actual moon is in the opposite direction.

Whenever I see this photo, I think about things for which I work so hard. I try really hard in a lot of things. I work hard, take few breaks and always wonder if I’m really giving it my 100 percent. Good enough isn’t good enough. Great is okay.

Am I reaching for the moon, or am I no more than a gibbon reaching for the water?


One thought on “Two Gibbons and Me

  1. Just saw this at the Kimberly last week (3/2017). Captivated by it as well…must be the Zen thing. Wondering if anyone knows how to get a print of this.

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