choosing whose children we would like to be

I love this passage in Zadie Smith’s book, Feel Free, where she quotes Seneca (the Greek philosopher) : “We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be.” Smith goes on to say: “Early on, I chose whose child I wanted to be: the child of the novel. Almost everything else was subjugated to this ruling passion.”

Okay, so first of all, I had no idea that Greek philosophers offered this particular kind of wisdom. And secondly, I love where Zadie Smith takes it. I was thinking – YES – that is just a beautiful way to describe a calling.

I realize that in the reading that I do, in the many different directions that I surf, that I tend to tie it all back into my art. What I’m doing. Why I’m doing it.

I used to focus in over and over again on art and artists. What they showed or wrote, and anything written about them. Even now, when I see someone whose work grabs me, I look for more ways to get to know that person and his/her art.

But I also know that a lot of what I read or see will somehow feed back into how I’m creating my art, either in idea or technique.

This latest piece of mine was inspired by a Michael Singer lecture I heard. He’s a scientist and a spiritual leader. In this lecture, he was pointing out how all religions were essentially dealing with where we came from. “And I can tell you the answer to that question,” he said. He then proceeded to describe, in simplified version – for an hour – the precise chemical explanation of the big bang theory. I loved how clear he was even though I admit, afterwards, I could not repeat any of the specifics. But the fact that this keyboard I’m typing on, as well as the cells in my body all started from the same place… well, that I got. And that’s crazy.

So, you see, those little doo-bobs hanging in several places in my piece? They represent a few of those random atoms, suspended, post the big bang. And the horses? From quite calm on the left to progressively faster across the piece: they stand for our not-so-still minds, billions of years later. Running away with us. Running wild.

Us children. Choosing whose children we would like to be. Yes.