Tuesday, October 2, 2007

What's in front of us

I've spent some time recently doing some long-range planning on my life. With so many people around me starting businesses, starting school, moving to far-flung locations, trading in one job for another, I cannot help but spend my long walks in the park imagining life. New York City, as exciting as it is, can be a distracting place. It seems that everywhere you look, there is something new and interesting going on. There is another road to take, another person to meet, another thing to do. And before I know it, I've completely forgotten where it is I'm going.

Last weekend I walked from Chinatown to the Upper West Side. For those of you who are not too familiar with New York, that's roughly seven miles. Most of it I walked with my friend, Dan, and we talked about direction and vision and taking advantage of being young and having the freedom to capitalize on possibility. And that's the thing about New York: possibility really is everywhere. It's so abundant that it's very difficult to discern exactly which possibility is the right one right now. And so, we wait. For inspiration, for a sign, for a directional arrow to get us going.

Paul Gauguin is one of my favorite painters and when asked about how he envisioned his paintings before putting brush to canvas, he said "I shut my eyes in order to see." There is too much fear in the world, too much intimidation, too much competition. If all we did was look out for direction, we'd never find our way.

So rather than evaluating possibilities, I am considering that really we just have to make our own. There are places I go to shut my eyes in order to see, which is to say places I go to imagine. And sometimes that's in a museum or Riverside or Central Park. Sometimes its on my yoga mat. Or snuggled up in my warm, comfy bed with a book that lights up my sense of wonder. Often it's to this computer screen to put together words that communicate what I'm thinking about, what I'm feeling, and what I'm wishing for. I shut my eyes, open my ears, and let my fingers dance in order to see life as I want it to be.
The picture above is "Tahitian Landscape" by Paul Gauguin, 1891.

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