When I came to visit you at your art studio that very first time, I was enamored. I still remember so well when you told me the name of your website. We were in front of the skeleton and I was standing to your right side. You tilted your head when you looked at me and said ‘lie to me harder’ with a twinkle in your eye. I knew then that I had never met anyone like you in my life.
I still vividly remember standing in front of the skeleton for the first time. Do you remember what I said? That it reminded me of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. It was a work I saw first in print back in grade school– I was probably 8 or 9. All the art I had ever seen until then was frozen in time. Mere attempts to capture an ephemeral moment, a fleeting rhapsody. But that one was different.
Do you remember when you brought your study of the Buddhist scripture from the temple on 8th St. out from under your drawing table? You showed me your attempts to translate what seemed to be incoherent sentences. You asked if I could make sense of them. I was in awe of your sincerity.
And do you remember when you asked me what I would do with my life if money wasn’t a thing? I gave you an answer then.
I am still, however, trying to answer that question– but with much more honesty and courage. It seemed to me that you weren’t merely posing a hypothetical question, like a brain teaser or a ‘would you rather’ scenario. For you it was real life. It was a question you were asking yourself, perhaps monthly or weekly. And it wasn’t that I’ve never been asked that question before, but rather that the person asking me has never been as true. As you.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to understand why it’s ever more important to watch what people do, rather than what they say. We live in an age where it’s easier than ever to project an image: a click of a button or a swipe of a card can transform. Just as we can adorn our bodies, we can now also adorn our minds with information. But I want to ask: what’s the use if we are still unwise?
Wisdom. It’s hard to see, even in plain view.
Probably by design, I guess.
Your garden says otherwise about you, though.
In your studio, you offered me tea from your collection of loose leaf varieties stored in jars on a miniature bookshelf. You heated water in a kettle and poured it slow. It steamed inside the small clay pot. You served it to me in a blue and white porcelain cup.
I’ve never had tea like that.