There’s a lot of boring stuff at the British Museum. Is it sacrilege to say that about one of the greatest museums in the world? I can almost imagine the scene at airport customs. “Uh, Mr. Blum, we can’t let you into the country. Your visa has been revoked due to your disparaging remarks about the British Museum.” What can I say – I’m a heathen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I *adore* the British Museum. I love the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Reading Room…it’s a beautiful, fascinating place. I just don’t love *all* of it. I find the Egyptian mummies to be a tad yawn-inducing. If I’ve seen one Greek vase, I’ve seen them all. Ancient mosaics, dusty French reliquaries, Aztec figurines? Meh. A visit to the British Museum, at least for me, is a little bit of great and a whole lot of snooze. And the place is BIG. You can walk for an hour (or so it seems) before you reach one of the “blue chip” sights, like the astonishing Assyrian statues and reliefs. It’s like walking through Main Street in Disneyland on your way to Space Mountain. Can we just get this over with?

What gets me through a visit to the British Museum, however, is a story I once heard from the famed Vipassana meditation teacher, S.N. Goenka. He relates the time that his mother puts a bowl of porridge in front of him and says, “Eat it, it’s good for you.” But the porridge has raisins in it, a food that the young Goenka utterly detests. “No, I don’t like raisins!” he replies, pushing the bowl away from him. His mother nods sagely and responds, “If you don’t like one ingredient, pick it out, but don’t throw away the whole dish.” The British Museum is my bowl of porridge. Although it has more than a few areas and exhibits that are not, shall we say, to my taste – I’m happy to “pick them out.” I’m certainly not pushing away the whole museum anytime soon. There’s too much there to savor and appreciate.

(What’s your bowl of porridge? Your job? Your family? Your romantic partner? One of the tasks in life is to assess your activities and relationships, and determine what to keep and what to push away. Are there just a few raisins sprinkles in there that you can live with, or have you achieved raisin saturation? Tolerating a destructive situation is not a virtue – it’s masochism. But if something is predominantly good and positive – say your workplace or your marriage – with a few random sultanas tossed in, perhaps you should consider keeping that bowl around and honing your raisin-picking skills.)