Our first evening in Paris, we visited the Musée d’Orsay. Constructed in a former train station and hotel, this place holds awe-inspiring works, such as those of Monet and Van Gogh. It really made me appreciate the higher level of human understanding that art allows us to access. At first, looking at paintings can seem like merely a pleasant, even trivial, pastime. Analyzing these works, however, I found more than paint on a canvas, more than molded stone. Art can allow the audience to step outside of the mundane day-to-day, out of simply surviving in the world, and to consider the very nature of existence. I have come to find that art can capture a feeling, a moment in time, the essence of a human life or of an entire generation and culture. Looking beyond what is physically before us, we are able present the world through our own emotional lens, seeing life through another’s eyes. In many ways, an artist’s work describes their own essence, their struggles and their feelings. They can capture a moment in time, expressing the feelings of individuals and generations long after they can speak for themselves. These gateways can illuminate our existence, allowing us to reach beyond what an individual could understand by merely floating through life alone. I believe this ability to consider and appreciate beauty is what sets humanity apart from the animal world. I am so grateful to have visited some of humanity’s finest works in the Musee D’Orsay.