An Authentic Photgraph

For the next three weeks I’ll be sitting on the other side of a short wall that separates me from two men who talk constantly. The numbers I’m inputting, the sentences I’m creating, they need my full attention and they can’t get it with John Talky-Talk and Bill McBlabber-Mouth going at it. I want to stand up and look over the wall, and down on them to say, “Nobody cares if you and your wife are going to Montauk. It’s MONTAUK!”  

I don’t belong here. This place has no spark, no electric current running through it. No beauty.

I spotted three different scented soaps in this place. I saw a dishwashing detergent that’s blue. Blue is not unscented. And I saw an Ivory soap in the bathroom too. I smelled my hands. The money they should’ve spent on decorating this office went to the purchase of soap with a moisturizer and a light hint of something floral. It’s not uncommon to find such a soap in a place like this, a large winding corporate office in midtown, but it is certainly strange considering fragrances are banned here. One of the highest ranking partners is deathly allergic to scents of any kind. Cologne, perfume, and heavily scented shampoos aren’t permitted. It was in the contract, which was on top of the disclosure statement I also had to sign before starting. I broke the rules anyway and put on creamy cocoa butter lotion. It’s winter on the East Coast, so sue me.

I can’t help but laugh out loud. As much as I try to put her down, the rebellious fighter dog inside of me still pops up every now and then. And that rebellious fighter loves herself some lotion. 

It was that same rebellious spirit that almost killed me. The rebel got me into the debt that I’m steadily knocking down with the hammer I carry with me everywhere I go, the Word. The old me was such a case for study when it came to making blind mistakes, and then making more by trying to correct them on my own, without consulting my Maker on what He wanted me to do first. I looked around this office on Tuesday, and I realized that everything I’ve been believing God for was ahead of me, and not behind. I prayed for an increase in pay, and I got it. I prayed for even more love to be shed and spread throughout my family. And yesterday, my Dad called to tell me he surprised my sister in Boston, and is bringing her down so we can hang out with our cousins next weekend. I even prayed for a normal schedule so I can spend more time attacking the interests and goals that I want to put big, fat check-marks next to…and I got it. Every single need has been met. For the friend relationship that’s been tossed into the fire, a new one has grown in its place and several old ones have been strengthened. What is there to complain about when the best is yet to come?

And I think this is where my enjoyment of shows like “Intervention” comes into play. I don’t watch much television—I couldn’t if I wanted to—-, but when I do it’s usually the news or a documentary type of show. I’m watching them in silence, but on the inside I’m shouting out, “Hey, I used to do that too. That’s me!” I wouldn’t go back to comparing my life to anyone else’s and smoking cigarettes like a fiend for anything. I’m just grateful to be here, looking as good as I do.

Pablo Picasso knows what I’m talking about. When Pablo Picasso was born, the doctor thought he was dead so he left him on  a table while we went to attend to his mother. It was his uncle who walked over to look at the dead child, and blew cigar smoke into his face. The result was a coughing infant, and they roared with laughter. I imagine that when he grew up he wasn’t too upset by that story, just grateful to be here. Looking as good as he did. Changing the world, though he could never know how much so at the time. Simply by being authentic.

Picasso’s work spoke to me, called me by name. Maybe it was Brandon who was actually calling me, asking me to look at what he’d found. We left the comfort of my couch this MLK holiday to join tourists and art students at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art We walked in, and got lost on purpose. Holding hands we viewed art, but separated every few minutes to escape into the past and have our own private moments with the artists. Starting in the main exhibit by Diego Rivera, we looked at work that depicted the struggle of the working class people. I agree with you Mr. Rivera: life is hard and stunningly beautiful at the same time.

Listening and Looking at Art

But it was Picasso who held my attention the longest. Breasts where the eyes should be, and a mouth taking the place of eyes. His paintings are so hard to make sense of, and yet they fit together perfectly. I squeezed Brandon’s arm as he led me away to the floor that held Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, and loudly whispered that we have to have a print of a Picasso painting in our future home. You can have Cezanne, and Frida Kahlo’s ordinary looking portraits, but give me Picasso! And throw in a Monet too. Because once you see it up close, you understand why the museum is alive with people from all over the world.

What else, what else? There is a whole space dedicated to the art of fonts. An exhibit made out of candy. A space where thai curry soup is served—to fully engage the audience, they said—in what looks like an unfinished house. And a large blacked-out room with a huge screen that plays Steve McQueen’s “Deadpan”. I didn’t put up a fight when Brandon finally said it was time to go, but now I wish I had.  I wanted to nap with him and get back into pajamas, but I now realize that the sights and sounds and visual ARTS that I received from the museum were precious cargo that I’ve been using to stay afloat in a beige-walled, no scent allowed, numbers crunching, phone ringing, capital market midtown office.

Visual arts.

It’s time to get some other things done so I can be ready for the day I’m eagerly anticipating as it rapidly approaches. Slowly, slowly I’ll fill you in on what’s next for me. Continuing to work hard along the way, and treat people well. Perhaps changing the world without ever knowing how much so.

Simply by being authentic.

Written to: Phoenix “If I Ever Feel Better”; Fred Hammond “No Weapon”; Bob Marley “Three Little Birds”

Brandon in the Middle of a Strange Exhibit

A Shot of Steve McQueen's "Deadpan"


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