Forgive me if I seem sentimental. Or if I nod toward nostalgia. This is, after all, the final official post in my three-year undertaking to find benches to blog about. And on the way, I’ve sought to uncover a personal expression of art.
One hundred benches. It seems like the perfect point to call it quits. So, with the morning sun throwing long shadows, I went back to my initial bench in the local park by the river to take a look back. Will you indulge me?
There are many ways to slice up a hundred posts. I decided to touch on a few themes.
There are too many I like to be able fit into this, so I will do a visual retrospective as an add-on. Call it a post-post. My photographic exploration reminded me of how much I enjoy the art form. Dorothea Lange said, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” That has certainly been true for me. Watch for my photo reminiscence soon.
One of the great joys on the journey has been when Serendipity showed up. And true to her nature, she arrived without advanced notice. Here were a few of her appearances:
In post #17, I literally drew a family of kids over to me in Grand Central Terminal in NYC
#12: Rembrandt, with his look of world-weary wisdom, challenged me over the heads of tourists in the National Gallery
#63: Interacting with strangers over my art at the Cloud Gate in Chicago
#88: watching a guy lower himself to a cliff-face cave in St. Paul, right when I was wondering about it
#92: the funny alignment in this shot from Sugarland, TX
#97: X marks the spot where Grace and I had our picnic
#98: kids triumphantly posed on a wall in Ft. Lauderdale in the waning light
Traveling is undeniably lonely. So, connecting with someone over a bench was always a pleasant addition. Some were strangers. Some were old friends. All made the moment richer.
#45: Fabian, a young artist I met in a park in Atlanta
#57: Fred, the self-anointed expert on all things in the town of Chagrin Falls, OH (including its most famous resident, Bill Waterson)
#64: Carol, a long-time internet friend with whom I shared wonder in the Art Institute of Chicago
#73: drawing for the boys of a dear friend, Jenny, in northern California
I had no idea how many forms a simple bench could take. I’ll follow with another collection of images: my favorite benches. (How long can I stretch out our goodbye?)
The question remains: have I found my personal art? Not really. But I’ve turned over a few of the jigsaw puzzle pieces. Whatever my future personal projects will turn out to be, they will include a strong connection with an audience. And blending words with images. And co-creating with people, whether they’re friends like you or strangers on the street.
Last week, which hiking alone in the Shenandoah mountains, I stopped for a breather and noticed something peculiar: an acorn sitting in a hole in a decaying tree, like an egg in a protected nest. It’s a perfect metaphor for my continued journey: the germ of a new adventure often lies in the learned wisdom of the previous one.
Thank you for taking this trip with me. I know I've had readers here on blogger.com but you tend to stay in the shadows. I think I've actually had only three or four comments over the hundred posts. So now's your chance. If you enjoyed reading this, will you leave a parting word? I'd love to hear from you.
So with Grace and some celebratory fro-yo, I raise a toast: here’s to slowing down to notice life’s unexpected pleasures, and to fellow travelers along the way.
And if you have a yearning for either, there’s always room on the bench for two.