O’er Moor and Mountain

cole

I am selling my art.

I love art and have been surrounded by it most of my adult life. But I like to make left turns, and sometimes doing so means adjusting various aspects of life. And for me, now, it means selling art, making room for other things, and pursuing a much larger ambition for which, now that I analyze it, the art work was an investment to begin with. Time to climb out of this lane and onto the next level.

I teach a course at Saint Leo University called “Journey’s of the Narrative.” It is about the odysseys we find ourselves on in life, with historical as well as literary references. I loved bringing in my copy of Homer’s Odyssey, translated by Pope, to show them something other than electronic (that piece of art is not for sale). We talked about pilgrimage, about journey, about pursuits. And we also discussed trials and tribulations met along the way.

Last night we discussed “character flaw.” The conversation moved from Odysseus to Don Quixote to Santiago of Old Man and the Sea and Alie Fox of the Mosquito Coast.  Pride seems to dominate, some vanity, a little bit of delusion. I asked which character they most related to. The guys chose Santiago, mostly because of his persistence and stubbornness, plus they are mostly NAVY retirees. The women chose Louise of Thelma and Louise (no one chose Thelma, who I think was the stronger character). One woman chose Alie Fox, saying she could totally see herself chucking the “dying American way of life” and carving out a new existence in some jungle until she happily lost her mind.

I always choose Cervantes’ most famous character. I don’t mind tilting at windmills. I have no problem with self-deception. I know someday someone’s going to hold up a mirror so I can see my character flaws, but until then the quixotic ways of life have worked for me. I think my most recent dynamic moment came when I realized sometimes we establish one way of existence for the purpose of moving to another. It’s time for what’s next.

So I’m selling my art. On the one hand it is symbolic–the art work represents a professorial collection of beauty and accomplishment. On the other it is practical–I need the money to fund what’s next.

And what’s next?

I can’t say, really. No, really. I have no idea. I just know I need to climb on the donkey and work my way up whatever new hillside I come across. I saw a lot of windmills in Spain; maybe I’ll go to Spain. That seems appropriate. 

You know it can be just as stressful knowing what’s going to happen down the road as it is not knowing at all. If I back up, four years ago I had no idea the Camino de Santiago existed; since then I’ve walked it with my son, am going to again, and written several articles about the journey. It has, in fact, realigned my life in a way. Two years before that the idea of riding the Trans-Siberian Railroad was a punch line to an outdated joke, but not only did we ride the long version, my next book is about the journey (well, not really..it’s about fathers and sons kinda, or more about the journey theme again, but that’s not right either). 

Our lives are riddled with examples of left turns and roundabouts we never anticipated but later can’t fathom life without them.Richard Jones was working with tension springs when one of them fell to the ground–the slinky. George Crum was a chef in Saratoga Springs who got pissed off when a customer kept sending back her potatoes because they weren’t done enough, so he cut them really thin and fried them to a crisp. She loved them, he made them a menu item, and potato chips were born. My favorite is the Kellogg brothers who left a pot of grain boiling on the stove for way too long and the dried up mess became corn flakes. 

George Halas played outfield for the Yankees but hurt his hip. He was replaced by two new players–Sammy Vick and Babe Ruth. Halas’ injury made it possible for Ruth to get game time every day, but it also enabled Halas to start the Chicago Bears and become one of the greatest football coaches of all time.

You never know. Maybe I’ll coach football. Maybe I’ll buy a slinky. I think I left something boiling on the stove. Who knows what might happen. My car broke down in the parking lot and I got a job teaching  college. I sold some of my art collection and….

How far down the road can you see? No. This instead: Just how far down the road do you really want to see?

quixote

 

 

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