In our travels, the greatest common denominator (look, I’m finally using that high school math) is the “selfie.” People taking pictures, seemingly, not of the experience they are having, but creating some sort of proof that they were there. For example, the amount of selfie sticks in Venice almost obstructed the 360 degrees of beauty. What are they missing in trying to gain all this proof?
When I cook, I like to serve everything on a platter. I like a good presentation. I like a set table. In two weeks of making meals at my mother’s house, I have yet to take a picture of the food.
My niece took us out for a joyful lunch yesterday. Not one picture of the food. I can still feel the hug hello. I can feel the hug goodbye. I remember the conversations. I’m still laughing. I can still hear both nephews saying “I love you.” Proof.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good story, a good photograph, a good memory. But I’m probably most pleased when I get home from a vacation, a lunch, an event, and think, “Oh, I was having so much fun, I forgot to take a picture.” My heart feels full. My brain races over the experience. My face opens in a continuous smile. And if those I’m with feel it too, then that’s all the proof I need – I was there – I am here!
I was standing in my booth in New York. She was reading a longer piece I had written on the wall. (I think it was “Let it be me.”) She had tears in her eyes and turned to me. “Why aren’t you famous?” she asked. Before I could respond she said, “Wait, are you famous?” I smiled and said, “Well, my mom thinks I’m pretty special.” She laughed and placed a large order for her New York gallery.
Why do we do things? I guess we have to ask ourselves that every day. Am I doing this so I can be noticed? So I can take the selfie? When we travel, we always marvel at the people in wondrous places taking pictures of themselves. Ignoring the Eiffel Tower, but showing what dress they wore in front of it. Or at a restaurant. Is it more important to take a picture of the food to prove you were there, or to really enjoy the food, to savor it? When we give gifts — are we looking for the thank you, or simply trying to give pleasure to the other person?
There are so many things that I paint in sketchbooks. write down in notepads. Things that no one will ever see, but I still do them. I do them for the pleasure of creation. To work on my craft. To, with any luck, become better. Sketches that won’t make me famous, but will fill my heart.
I want to be a better artist, but also a better human — work on my intent. Focus on the content, and not the “likes.” The goal, the reward, is not be famous, but to be seen. If we saw each other…If you saw, not just my face, but all that I have faced, and if I did that for you… Wow! That could live on forever!