There is a painting that hangs on the salmon-colored wall, above the books and guitars, in my living room.
It is called "Story."
My nephew James, who lived in my attic for a while and who is now a student at the University of New Mexico, gave it to me as a "thank you" for putting him up. It's an original painting created by a friend of his, a biker named Denver. It's called "Story" and I think it depicts what a story is, but also what life is all about. There is so much going on in it, as is true with all our experiences. I sit on the couch and look at it often, and I find something new in it every time I do.
Yes, life gets mangled sometimes, but it still has beauty. It has apples and vases and heart and fish and moon and bewilderment and stars and time. And I like the capital G in the top right-hand corner. It reminds one not to forget to be amazed.
That's what a story is. Yes, some say conflict is what makes a compelling story, and perhaps that is right. I think everyone finds what they need in a story told well, and that's why a story lives on. One can learn from art's experience.
Henry Miller wrote:
"What we all hope in reaching for a book, is to meet a man of our own heart, to experience tragedies and delights which we ourselves lack the courage to invite, to dream dreams which will render life more hallucinating, perhaps also to discover a philosophy of life which will make us more adequate in meeting the trials and ordeals which beset us. To merely add to our store of knowledge or improve our culture, whatever that may mean, seems worthless to me."
Tonight I walked two black dogs in the rain.
No dates, no curfews, no questions.
This is a remarkable life.