I returned from my hometown last month, where the high school and performing arts center organized a 10 year retrospective of my artwork. It was humbling and very touching to be thought of and held highly in their hearts. I gave a lecture series and told stories on the path of my life from my teenage years unto today at The McHale Performing Arts Center. In place of focusing on my art we talked about some of the ideas which have been most influential in my life. From traveling around the world alone for three years, to confronting fear, finding passion, and dealing with the loss of loved ones. It was a cathartic experience and Im happy to have been there as well as to be back here in SF.
One of the most touching parts for me personally was after I spoke, some students came onto the stage to speak with me more and after they had left there was a middle age woman standing there wearing a blue janitorial work shirt. She said “Do you remember me?” I smiled and hugged her, a smile that said my god how long its been and I can’t believe that the memory of her came flooding back so vividly and suddenly after having been gone more than a decade. She said, “I used to work in the lunch room, and you were the one student who spoke with me and joked with me, it made my day, and when you graduated you bought me a little present. I just wanted to come and tell you hello.” It really moved me to a feeling in-between happiness and teary eyes. Above all it made me feel the importance from both her perspective, and suddenly my own, and then of course the overarching perspective we all share, in the value of the sense of being appreciated as a human being.
Being there has inspired me and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for storytelling and sharing new ideas. While I was moved by this and I wanted to share it, I also thought of wanting to hear not just from the world around me but of the world around others.