We’ve been in the faraway jungle nearly three months, and one enormous benefit I’ve noticed is how much less decision-making I face each day. I did not realize how previously burdened I was with constant choices, some big, most small … but all relentless and so often, pointless. Now, with the nearest stoplight one hour’s drive, choices are far less complex, i.e. which protein to put on my rice and beans or which of my two pair of shoes to wear, flip-flops or sneakers (flip-flops 96% of the time). Last Saturday, my youngest invited me to dig a hole on the beach with him. That decision was simple.
As my wife and Kai paddled out to surf, I joined Bodhi on the cool, camel-colored sand. Game face on, my son took to both knees and immediately provided me very specific instructions on where I was to dig and where I was to place the excavated sand. I obeyed readily, delighted to be engulfed in my little captain’s zeal.
small father/son moment as a metaphor for a life well lived
Scoop by glorious scoop, my cheeky partner and I aimed at a goal and labored manually and patiently to achieve it. We enjoyed the beauty of sun-kissed nature together. The deeper we dug, the more the muddy, wet, layered truth of the world revealed itself, eventually unveiling the water that flows beneath everything. And, at last, when the time came to exit, the sea reclaimed what is and will always be hers.
These uncluttered, familial moments in nature are the whole point of living on a rural, remote coast of Central America. This slowing down and noticing is the thing itself. And Bodhi is my chief noticer. My lover of all things wild. Coiner of the phrase, “man-madey,” as in, I don’t like this wooden walkway, it’s too man-madey (in Muir Woods). Bodhi, on three separate occasions, requested three separate laminated Costa Rica Wildlife Guides, when he could choose any book he wanted. He rightly demanded last week that we stop the car to look at a family of monkeys swinging in the trees on the roadside near our favorite surf break. And those happy monkeys were worth the extra ninety seconds.
Speaking of happy monkeys, I’m thrilled to report that my For Freedoms, How Was School Today? billboard won an inaugural 2018 Ellie Award. “The Ellies celebrate the individual artists who are the backbone of Miami’s visual arts community,” says presenter, ArtCenter South Florida. I’m truly humbled to be recognized for this effort and to be included among a crew of fabulously talented creators. Amidst loads of local and national press, we even got loved up in ARTFORUM, a first in my long and woeful career. I started painting nearly twenty years ago to fix a broken heart. Thankfully, my heart is full. Now I paint to fix the world (which is slowly breaking my heart again). Thanks to all who supported the Kickstarter campaign and joined in the largest creative collaboration in US history. For Freedoms is really changing the game and actually might have real impact on this election, as this article so elegantly posits.
While How Was School Today? speaks to the gun issue, you can now find my second For Freedoms Billboard, The Best Words, at Florida International University bus stops. This work is based on an actual Trump quote, “I went to an Ivy League school. I’m very educated. I know words. I have the best words.” It is a call to students, hungry for truth and knowledge, to recognize the value of their words and use them to propel society morally forward and not drag it backwards into darkness.
The fact that the whole world appears to be digging itself into a deep dark hole is all the more reason to sit on a beach with one you love and dig your nails into the wet dirt. Your head empties out with each handful, and the conversation tends to flow languidly sideways.
When I got home from an early morning surf today, a small Gray Fox (Zorra Gris – I looked it up in Bodhi’s guide) stood in the garden. It’s quiet eyes and soft, metal-colored coat reminded me of an adorable dog I wanted to pet, and I immediately wished Bodhi was with me. He’d feel so deeply and purely exhilarated by this moment. The beautiful animal and I silently contemplated one another for a few earnest breaths until he turned and disappeared into the deep green.
PS. Speaking of choices, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE VOTE … NO EXCUSES … and make sure everyone you know votes. Our society, lives and well-being depend on it.