In the middle of the night a traveling young artist approaches me to talk philosophy.
|Biographic rewording of an incident that happened to me in San Diego California:
July 27th 2007
I put on my old short and my old shoes and set out, wallet and camera free, to the hotel parking lot at 3 in the morning, I knew there was a public ashtray there and had my pack in pocket.
As I lit my smoke a man approached me, he was dark skinned and a slight beard had found its way to his face, his dusty backpack and worn out cloths made me think a homeless person was going to ask me for a cup of coffee. I can't quite describe his face, but I remember it was calm and he approached with the harmless smile of someone asking for directions.
"Can I help?" I inquired, he shook his head and he told me he was a traveler looking for truthful beauty of the human mind, he said I looked like I was searching for something as well. Needless to say, that got the conversation running, and he told me he came from 10 states away, seeking beauty in nature around him and man made crafts. "My name is Jon, I am an artist" he said with a smile, "I work to express the beauty in my mind, but so far I am not sure what true beauty of the mind is, so I walk the streets enjoying the scenery and looking at what other craftsmen have made; in buildings or signs, even on the streets. He also spoke of a woman he loved that awaited him back home and pointed to his pendant, "that is the seed of a tree that no longer exists, she gave this to me, and it reminds me of her".
"you know", he said, " people today do nothing but work like robots, and they lose their soul, they cannot bare to sit at home alone with their emptiness so they go to bars and get drunk", he then unleashed a nasty paragraph on empty women who go drinking and dance naked in pubs to avoid being alone. A paragraph, I will forgo.
In retrospect he didn't blame the American society for being the way he described it, but rather sympathized saying: "they drink because they work, and they work because they need to drink. It is something they know is true because it is the only thing they know, because they never saw the beauty of the mind", he claimed that since he was touched by that beauty he got thirsty for more, and in consequence made it his duty to find its true meaning.
He carried on, talking about how the beauty of nature enters man's mind and imbues it with a comprehension for the natural charms. An understanding which, makes you appreciate beauty the more you see it. He leered at a flower I was contemplating while I smoked, the one I had my sight fixed on when he first approached me. It was a blue belled flower a few inches off the ground, a couple of other flowers kept it company in what would have been the shade of a tree, had it not been 3 am in the morning. He said "I noticed how you looked at the flower with a calm and focused face, and I just wanted to know, what are you truly seeing?".
"Just a flower Jon, I don't even care about them as much ... but I've never seen one like it back home." He asked where I was from, and when I said Beirut, his face lit... it wasn't the surprised look I usually got around the U.S., or the pity look... His face genuinely shone with excitement... "Middle eastern people", he said, "you know how to hold on to culture, to traditions ..." I had to interrupt, while I agreed that Lebanon is a nice place to be, I still disagreed with the shallow protocols, a lot of things being followed blindly because "this is the way it should be ..." He listened nodding while I spoke of the fun and the annoying parts of Lebanon, of the clubs taking over, of the ruins lying around, the beauty and the shallowness."There is more to getting somewhere than just getting there,I think the quality of the trip ought to count." He laughed and said "we are both the same in a way, each walking outside the normal, looking for more, we refuse to accept what is common without flipping it around and trying to see what its like on the other side". I protested a bit...
He suddenly cocked his backpack on his shoulder, my mind was bubbling with so many questions, some I would never dare ask, like how do you make a living? Where do you sleep? Do you ever... The thought hung on my mind's lip as he waved goodbye... "Wait!", I honestly wondered if I should give him whatever coin or petty cash I could pull out of my pockets, but I felt he would be offended ... "could I help you with anything else before you go? " He laughed heartedly and said "actually I walked over to you because I thought you needed some help..."
Note:... since then I found a compelling pleasure in taking pictures of flowers.