Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Are you an "Artist"?

Recently, I was in an art store with my mother in downtown Providence. She had just recently moved to the area and like a kid in a candy store, she was eager to be in this newfound shop. Cruising the aisles of tubes, brushes, and other tools, I hung by the front and watched my mother splurge on herself for a change. I was in no rush, just content being and so I tuned in to my surroundings. New to me as well, I began to eavesdrop on the various conversations taking place around me. I do this quite often, especially in an unfamiliar place, because it is a great way to get an idea about a culture or a people.

A gentlemen came up to the counter with a few items in his hands. The girl at the counter with a stale personality, asks him for his zip code, and he courteously obliged. With out a crack in expression, the girl continued,

"Are you an Artist?"

At first I thought she was just curious, trying to make small talk with this man, but then I realized it was a part of her job responsibility. The man responded,

"No, I guess I am a hobbyist?"

I stifled my laughter, to not offend anyone and went to locate my mother. I had to tell her about the exchange, because she would appreciate it just as much as me. "Isn't that such a subjective question?" She thought it was humorous too.

When my mother was ready to check-out, I knew she was secretly preparing for the question from the counter girl. Without skipping a beat, the girl asked,

"Are you an Artist?".

And my mother, the wonderful woman she
is, responds in full-smile,

"Opposed to what?"

Thrown off guard, the girl began to list off a series of other labels. A student, a teacher, a self-contractor.... I knew what my mother meant. My mother was all of these. An artist, a student, a teacher... and more; a mother, a sister, a lover... How could she just pick one label to describe herself?

I thought about the man that checked out before her, did he settle for the label "hobbyist"? Did he want to be an "Artist", but was he too self-critical to accept the label of "Artist"? Was he afraid of being judged by the disconnected items laying in front of him, as if they were not the right tools to create art?

I was sad for the girl at the counter, she didn't seem happy with her position. And to make it worse, she was required to ask meaningless questions for the sake of some marketing ploy. She didn't understand the pretentiousness of this loaded question and that for every other customer who left her counter, their trip home would be spent self-questioning the worth of their trade.

I laughed off the experience in the car home. And I wondered if I would see things differently if I wasn't an artist?

"We are not all painters, but we are all artists. To admire the every-day artist, is an appreciation of humanity."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Masochism

Throughout history, every dramatic love story follows a similar thematic sequence. Unfulfilled love. The trials and tribulations of our beloved characters, are spewed across pages and silver screens, for our entertainment. We read/watch with hungry eyes, as the lovers' pain unfold. Trying to be with those they can not live without, even at the risk of death. The fantasy so real to us, we may even be fooled by the ideals of "eternity"; that we will never stop loving another.

We idolize this need for ever-lasting, non-discriminating love. Yet in most modern relationships, they become failed as soon as things become difficult. Affairs, lack of financial security, lack of emotional security, different ideas about parenting... If Romeo and Juliet had survived their fate, and were arguing over mortgage bills and whose turn it was to take their kids to soccer practice, would we still find their tale so romantic? Probably not. Or if they survived their marriage for 20 years and realized they were both having affairs, would we still believe their "true love" existed?

Can passion and sex translate into "marriage"? Can our lovers remain fresh to us, like a well-lit morning?

When you visualize your life-long companion, they are probably not lying next to you, looking aged beneath dirty sheets, with the smell of cigarettes and wine on their breath. To embrace the flawed-version and discard the too-good-to-be-true imposter that once stood in their place, you must trust in something far-short of non-perfection. To place stock in a faulty system is down-right ludacris. But what is "marriage"?

We need to hope that wearing your heart and soul on your sleeve, in all kinds of weather, makes you worthy of something good, like another's unconditional love; a karmic relationship. So, the reward for self-sacrifice, must be love..right?

Nietzsche said it best: "There is always some madness in love. But there is always some reason in madness."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Goodbye Sundays, Hello Life

I am guilty of it. Sunday mornings I shift through The Times, glancing over the "World News". avoiding the "Business News" and "Sports" section, and set aside "Arts & Entertainment" to read at my leisure. My favorite section: The Obituaries. Cliche? Yes. Morbid? Maybe. Entertaining? Infinitely. (And no, I am not in real estate. ) I even avoid "Weddings", because in my opinion, they are by far more depressing and shallow than the obits.

What I find intriguing about the obituaries, is how peoples' lives are squeezed into a two-column space and remembered by those they leave behind. What is most important? What goes amiss? And what if they were a truly despicable character? (You never read an obituary about how awful a person was in real-life. Somewhere a literal cleansing must occur between death and distribution, because no one wants to read about or pay homage to, a villain.)

This week we paid our respects to writer, David Foster Wallace, who at 46 hung himself in his own home. A well-deserved 4 columns of praising to his literary genius. Makes one wonder why people so intellectually advanced, are so nuts? (Do they know something the rest of the population ignores? )

Then there was yacht designer Olin J. Stephens, who died at 100, with a lifetime achievement of designing 2,200 yacht and racing boats. He only received two columns for his efforts. Bon voyage Captain!

My favorite obituary: The beloved K. Barry MD, "who died in the arms of his wife and children. May his name be a blessing". Dr. Barry only had two lines to his obituary, but it was so sincere it made me tear up. I bet he was a good man, who devoted his own life to helping others. He probably drove a Volvo, wore sweaters his wife bought him, and never missed an important event in his childrens' lives. His wife probably wrote these two lines sitting on the corner of their bed or at the kitchen table, in the dusk of a grief filled day. 20-plus years married, without ever imagining a day without her companion, her friend, her lover. A beautiful few words, in honor of their beautiful life together.

This is why I read the obituaries; because you find hope in the most peculiar of places. An obituary can be about every and nothing at the same time; an afterthought, a dear wish, a goodbye, a biography, an uplifting journey, or a characterized portrayal. Or it can be just a reminder. Because after all, you've got a hell of a lot more living to do to make the NY Time's Sunday Obituaries.

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