Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My Father's Impression.


My father and I spent the day at the Norton Simon Museum yesterday. Seemed like a nice way to pass time. It'd been a while since I spent time with my father. In fact, I hadn't spent a full day with him in years.

As we walked through sculptures from pre-harrapan civilization and on to paintings from the renaissance, my father began to ask me questions about my current situation. I realized that I had never really told him what happened. Why I was leaving Berkeley for Boston. Why I had been so distant. Finally, I explained everything. By the time I had finished, we were standing in a gallery of modern paintings.

My father looked at me and said, "Sounds like you went through a pretty painful situation." "You know, Dad, the most difficult thing is that I feel like I failed. I tried so hard to make things work and I just couldn't. I just can't shake the feeling that I failed. I tried so hard..." Suddenly I felt a warm tear roll down my cheek. There's another rarity -- my father hadn't seen my cry in years. Mind you, this is a gallery with high ceilings, long halls and granite everything. My slight sniffling was amplified into an echoing thunder of weakness that seemingly carried throughout the museum.

My father asked, "You know where we're sitting?" "Huh?" "Do you know where we're sitting," he repeated. "No," I responded. "We're sitting in front of a genuine Monet painting. You do know about impressionist painting, right?" "Yeah," I answered. "Come, stand up. Take a closer look at it with me." My father held my hand -- yet another first in years.

"You see, when you look at this painting up close, all of these brush strokes don't make sense. They look like random flings of the wrist." I looked closely. Hell, I was so close, I thought my drippy nose might add yet another feature to Monet's Artist's Garden at Vetheuil. My father continued, "Looking this closely at this painting, you'd think that all of these brush strokes were meaningless. A complete failure on the part of the artist. Now let's take a few steps back. Only then does the real picture come into place. You can see that all of these seemingly random brush strokes were part of a bigger picture. Not a single one was a failure."

"Maybe, son, you should take a few steps back from your situation. Maybe then, you'd realize that this wasn't a failure on your part. With regards to your situation, this is just one brush stroke in the masterpiece you'll look back at and call your life."

I stepped back and saw the picture appear from the oil streaks. I took a deep breath. Suddenly, the thundering echoes of sadness stopped. Yes, I was beginning to see the big picture.

23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great story...sounds like you and your Dad had a great day!

9:24 AM  
Blogger dreadcow said...

A perfect way to illustrate how life works... I can apply the same exact concept to my own life, far too much for my own liking. It's hard to accept it sometimes. Glad to hear that you're seeing the big picture.

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vavoom, I am concerned about the new happy messages appearing here. I hope you are having a good visit.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am concerned by the happy, upbeat postings. Do you have a fever? Do we need to come get you and take you home? I'm sure that the New England weather should clear this right up, but you might want to get it checked out anyway. Could be serious...

Are you on drugs? Are you?

10:50 AM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Don't worry, I'm sure I'll go back to my miserable self when I come back to berkeley. And they say misery loves company -- sheesh...

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it takes this little to make you happy, I question your dedication to science. Science should instill a depression so deep no one can climb out.

(Guys, I think he's on drugs.)

1:20 PM  
Blogger FantasticAlice said...

let me know if the big picture gets smaller after a while.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Your dad is a very wise man.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Joann said...

A remarakable day. One you will always remember not only for the time your father took with you but also for his extraordinary allegory.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous PhatPharma said...

Vavoom, You're really getting the hang of this aren't you? You might just be my wisest friend despite all the dumb stuff you've done. Now it's clear to me where you acquired the smartypants to go with your spidersocks. You might want to see your family more often.

9:43 PM  
Blogger SheaNC said...

Right on. An excellent message. It is always better to see the big picture.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Morwenna said...

Another great story posted. It was good timing for me to read as well - I seem to have the problem of sometimes standing so close to the picture my nose is pressed against it and everything looks blurred and pointless... Maybe stepping way back will bring some sense and focus into view.

10:41 PM  
Blogger An80sNut said...

Kudos!!! Great story, great dad. What's Dad getting for Father's Day? B)

11:56 PM  
Blogger Vavoom said...

Thanks all for the kind comments.
Nut: I'm probably going to buy him a framed copy of the painting. Seems like a fitting gift this year.

1:05 AM  
Blogger dahvid said...

"Yes, I was beginning to see the big picture"

so vavoom, what was the big picture you saw? :)

1:09 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Wow. The story is gorgeous and your wording makes it that much more. I guess I didn't know the "miserable" posting you, but I like the happy posting you.

Your post about your mom (Spiderman socks) and your dad could be a mini series of your life. I'd buy it!

2:29 AM  
Blogger Suzie Petunia said...

A post I can really appreciate --especially because I'm an art teacher.

4:22 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Great post. *hugs*

7:14 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Vavoom, your dad is a brilliant man. I loved his analogy. Hang in there, as I am sure things have a way of working out for the best.

8:35 AM  
Blogger Danilo da Silva said...

Indeed, many times it is difficult to see things from this perspective; however, try to see things this way. Never think of what could've been, could've happened if... Think of what you've accomplished, of where you were and where you are, think of your objetives and what you are doing to fulfill them.

peace!

10:15 PM  
Blogger FJ said...

Parents, they are alot wiser than we give them credit for being.

Technologically "disadvantaged" they may be but stupid they are not.

Kudos to all the Mums and Dads in the world who excel in one of the only jobs going that does not have a training manual to accompany it.

...FJ.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Raine said...

Wow, you really have an awesome dad, V. And Boston will be a much more exciting city, full of opportunities.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Rattie said...

Wonderful advice your father had!

7:44 PM  

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