follow the flow
a travel journal and photography journey
There are these moments in life where kindred spirits are met and found. I imagine this will happen quite a bit along this year of travel. These moments of synchronicity, where regardless of the actual events, there is a feeling of I know you, and I'm grateful to have met you, for however brief it was.
I was going for a morning walk around where Terence and I were staying in our little Airbnb in The Pocket, and on my way back past houses and pastures and cows and birds, I found a sweet brown dog, wagging his way into the middle of the road to meet me. His owner came out from behind the fence to tell him to get back inside, and we got to talking. Before I knew it, we were discussing art, bubbles, and photography.
I enjoy getting into conversations with strangers. And I really enjoy getting into conversations with strangers when there is an ease of being who we really are—the bullshit of the weather or where you're from, even names, aside. We didn't end up exchanging our names until we learned each other's energetic names first. These kinds of unexpected encounters are some of the most moving for me as an artist. They remind me that inspiration often comes from the most unexpected of places, that age and gender and beliefs has nothing to do with capacity for connection, and that it's always a good idea to allow a playful state of mind.
His name was Peter, and he couldn't quite pronounce my name right as it sounds a bit weird in an Australian accent, so he tried to do it with an American one instead. It made me chuckle inside.
Peter showed me some of his work as we sat on his porch with his dog Tookie, classical music playing faintly in the background. He brought out abstract cartoons done with black pen, depicting stories he had visioned in his mind. Each scene had a descriptive paragraph below it explaining where the vision had come from—a second work of art accompanying the first. All I want to do with my art, is to make people chuckle, or make them think. He said. He then started blowing bubbles with a little gadget of his, wanting me to see the amazingness of my own reflection in the giant rainbow mirror slowly falling to the grown. I was lit up inside—by the weird profundity of his cartoons, by his gentle excitement in sharing his creations with a stranger, by the artist in me yelling yippeee I found another one!
I didn't see Peter for a few days, but promised to visit one more time before Terence and I finished our stay in The Pocket. I returned the day before we left, and we sat on his porch, classical music playing, his dog Tookie at my feet. He asked how my stay was, and I shared about my relationship, some highlights of our stay, and eventually shared a bit about this year of travel—the excitement, the intentions, the journey's already had. And then, happily, I listened to him tell stories from his life...
He shared about a faulty Fuji camera he once had, and how he sent cartoons making fun of Fuji to Fuji until they gave him a new one that worked. He shared about how dancing saved his life, and the boys and girls who he has taught to dance, and, with tears in his eyes, the dances he has shared with his daughter. He shared that his real name is not the name he signs on all of his art, so many still don't know that his art is by him, and the giddy pleasure he gets out of someone asking him have you seen this cartoon in the paper? He shared about his neighbors' son demanding a mobile phone, and how Peter cleverly took two tin cans, painted them with all the fixings of an iPhone, connected them by a piece of string, and gave it to the boy as a gift. By the next week, everyone at the boys' school had their own tin can phones. He shared about his life of art, what he has created, the photos he has taken, the people met and the places been, shuffling past anything about awards and money only to say Meh, I don't need money anymore, I like to do it for myself now. He draws his cartoons as gifts for his friends, and is continuously coming up with creative ways to entertain, inspire, and fascinate his neighbors and himself.
I rave, I know that I rave, he said, of all his storytelling. Living alone, I don't often have people to talk to, returning back to his gaze out towards the road, where the cows and grass and trees were. We just sit here, every day Tookie and me, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. And oh how I have seen these trees grow...
When I first asked him if I could take his photo, he said Why don't you get one of me at my drawing table? I don't have a single photo of me like that... That is the photo you see above. I feel so honored that I could take it. That he opened up his studio and himself for a moment to be captured in time of him in his space of inspiration and creativity with his best friend by his feet. But, I still felt like he was feeling the need to pose for the camera. Innocently assuming that I would only want a photo of him in the space of his life's work. But after we had transitioned outside once more, and I was getting ready to leave again soon, possibly not to return again for a long time, I asked if I could take a photo of him where he sits every day. Him and Tookie, listening to classical music and watching the trees grow. That, was the true essence of this artist, to me, from the short experience I had with him.
So that is what you see below. Accompanied by a photo of two pieces of art that describe a part of his soul and his humor—one by him, and one from a friend.
Thank you, Peter, for inviting me into your space, your art, and your stories. My artist heart feels full, and I'll long cherish this moment of befriending.