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When Life & Art Become One

Updated: Apr 11

Titling a book evolves as writing does. At first, The Yes Tree reflected the fascination I felt for the forked branches of all sizes I found on the trails of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The Ys, as I called them in my walking adventures, took me on. I first saw their physical selves as the original form of the twenty-fifth letter of the alphabet. As my writing traveled beyond the Y fancy, the book’s title became Have Heart/Will Travel: A heartist’s Story. And then, it morphed into It Is Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood, soon to become heartist: When Life and Art Become One, which made way for what it is now, The heartist’s Secret/A Memoir. All these titles give you an idea about where I have been treading on the path to reaching my book.

The theme of this blog, When Life and Art Become One, is relevant when I see where a certain poem has taken me:

My man of the year

Is the wonderful, wise one

Who sat himself in the midst

Of the West with a huge box

Of chubby Teddy Bears

On New Year’s Day,

Attracting an endless

Queue of cheering kids—

Holding guns

He playfully showed

With a smile and a wink

And a Teddy Bear hug—

It could be the beginning

Of a honey-laden decade

In a brave new world

By wisely trading

Guns

For Teddy Bears

Ada Aharoni

I came across Ms. Aharoni’s poem in 2001 as I was preparing for my first residency in Medellin, Colombia, South America, where I was to do performances as well as give lectures on the Transformative Power of Art. While I supposed Egyptian-born Israeli poet Ms. Aharoni intended her Man of the Year to sit at the famed Western gate of Jerusalem, I was trusting that my good-hearted Colombian host, Juan Alberto Gaviria, would find the right spot for me to sit in the same way as she did for Man of the Year, with my pockets filled with small teddy bears. The country I was about to visit had suffered from a brutal campaign, in this case perpetuated by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (the FARC). Juan Alberto, well aware that the FARC was still carrying out kidnappings of politicians and foreigners, did not think an outdoor performance would be a smart idea, so we concentrated on The Point of Tears, the work I had launched at Kutztown University, Pennsylvania, a few days before leaving for South America. Eventually, the thirty plus army of teddies got stashed away until they reappeared when I moved two years ago. Well! Trained in the domain of art, they quickly morphed into home performers and have become my allies in alleviating my alzheimer-ed partner’s depression.

Art and Life: One bear, hugging at times, spreads affection. There is an odd pair, a panda-looking fluffy character and a light brown brother with a buoy across his chest, and with “Sunny days are here again” inscribed on a heart-shaped badge, sending my partner Dick sweet messages from the corner of the coffee table. Then, there is a bear looking like a black version of a polar bear that keeps hiding in between the pages of the newspaper which my partner goes through religiously for the weather—a rare topic of interest for him.


The heART, the common denominator for Art and Life!

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