Yesterday, I met a man — let’s call him Luc — who reminded me of something I frequently forget. Above all, I am an artist. No matter where I am in this long winding road of life, I am most true to myself when I am creating. When I write, my words are a stamp of the etchings on my heart. When I paint, my strokes are an impression of the vision in my mind. When I blog, my posts are a reflection of the visage of my soul.
When I forget that I am an artist and I push myself to slog through economic or administrative material, I succeed, but ultimately I feel stifled. Where might I sing my own tune? Who will hear my melody? Am I the one who doesn’t understand or are they?
I have to say this about Frenchmen — the majority of them are much too metrosexual and self-important for my liking. No, I don’t care that you work in the highest level of the military. No, I don’t care that your neighbor is a famous actor who rents out the Luxembourg gardens on a whim. No, I don’t know how much your Givenchy suit costs.
But then, there are always exceptions to every rule. Ironically, when Luc introduced himself to me, I thought he said he worked in finance. His writerly glasses and casual khaki pants made a lot more sense when he explained that he did freelance. Freelance what? Multimedia, animation, cinematography. He showed me a kinetic typography video he made for WTO. Apparently, he had just flown in from Geneva, where he was working on projects for the UN, UNESCO, and UNICEF. Of course, this very much appealed to my humanitarian side and he immediately earned my stamp of approval.
Over sushi (!), we debated the different types of intelligence. Luc claimed that students at top-tier American universities (Columbia, in particular) had left him very unimpressed. For him, intelligence was a cultivated, broad knowledge encompassing many fields and subjects. I told him that it was rare to find people like that in the United States because professionals tended to specialize. To my great satisfaction, he told me that he found me more interesting than Columbia attendees.
As the night rolled on (I love how a European rendez-vous usually lasts for more than three hours), we shared more of our passions and perspectives on life. One thing Luc said really struck me — that no matter what country you are in, people are still the same. At the core of every person is the same humanity. In continuation with this theme, we ran into a completely wasted French girl who enthusiastically preached the goodness of people to us. She looked right at us with her large, round eyes and said, “Je ne te connais pas, mais je t’aime. Ce n’est pas sexuel. C’est sentimental.” I don’t know you, but I love you. It’s not sexual. It’s sentimental.
In that moment, I believed she was more lucid than the majority of people on earth. I almost teared up at the raw beauty of her statement. The whole time, Luc was sitting there looking amused. He possesses this quiet confidence — the tranquility of someone who understands life. At times, though, I catch him with a distant look in his eyes — the sorrow of someone who’s endured pain and is fatigué.
I’m not sure where my friendship with Luc will lead, but I am grateful to him. During that one lovely evening, I was reminded that it’s not your cognitive functions that matter, but the calling of your heart. You have a choice: to follow or not?
I am following. Today, I purchased my first book in ages, Ceci n’est pas une autobiographie. I’m only on page 41, but already I am impressed with the sweeping power of Daniel Filipacchi’s narrative voice.
When do you feel that you’re being most true to yourself? How do you balance your desire to do what you love and to earn a living?