Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Tasting Rembrandt

This is a good night for writing. Just enough discontent to make the words flow easy. A busy enough week to lend a sense of urgency to this endeavor.

The cat - Chunkface "Chunky" ChinLottFulton, aka "Stalker Cat" is in his usual spot on the windowsill outside, his jade eyes plaintively demanding entry. I spent $128 at Kroger today in my first grocery store trip since early October, somehow the tidiness of the packaged goods and those yellow "great price!" labels pushed my monkey brain into the "buy!" overdrive. Perhaps there is something to be said for desensitization via regular strolls through Kroger. Later as I unpack my shopping bags I wonder how I bought so many bottles of wine, and how I forgot to buy toothpaste.

At Fuqua we talk about having a "transformational" experience rather than a "transactional" one. We can, we are told, pay some money and receive skills. Or we can immerse ourselves and come out different on the other side. We are told that "transformational" is the path to choose.  But I wonder sometimes, as I talk to my fellow graduates-soon. Even those of us who have offers with companies, who have a semblance of a plan, still say they're not really sure what they want. We are certainly transformed - I see my peers leading incredible projects, turning outstellar work, being brilliant - but into what? We're not sure where, or how, or what is next.

I knew much more clearly what I wanted when I didn't know what I didn't have.

When I lived in Sevilla in 2005, I remember wandering the streets for hours, having no idea where I was and refusing to pull out the map until my feet began to ache. Every few steps brought me to something new - a wall of azulejos in peacock and ivy, a crumbling courtyard circling a crystalline fountain, or just sunlight on a wall the color of crema and dijon. And I loved them for nothing more than their being there, imprinting their shape upon the folds of my mind.  Lorraine Barrichi, in her seminar today, told us, "Even if you don't know if you like the idea or not, you have to taste it and give it time, just to know." 

I've been searching for meaning in everything that I do. I ask myself again and again, how is this relevant? Will this be useful? If it isn't, I tell myself, then it's just work. It's struggling. It's exhausting and overwhelming, and I don't want to do it.

It occurs to me only now that perhaps these things don't need context after all.
When I went last week to an exhibit on Rembrandt, the show had hung Rembrandt paintings next to "workshop of Rembrandt" paintings next to "not-Rembrandt" paintings. Honestly, I often couldn't tell the difference but for the fact that one had the esteemed label and the others did not. But once I knew which was the real Rembrandt, I found that only then did I study it closely.  These many activities today are my own gallery of paintings. Some are Rembrandts and others are not. But how do I know, until I see them in context?

Some of my ideas today will bear fruit, and the others will go onto the compost pile. Some of my activities today will be important to me ten years from now, and others won't.

This is the challenge: To see each thing as if I had just turned the corner and come upon it. To taste everything, and reserve judgment for later. To place exploration above struggle, to not care about qualities of a masterpiece. There is the green-eyed cat mewing past the blinds, my cold toes tingling onthese old wooden floorboards, the pricklesome fizz of a beer that sends blueberry shock into my brain. I linger.

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