Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what it is that makes a meaningful life for me. I’ve had an overwhelming desire to purge many of the things I own and go back to only that of which brings me value. The issue is that when it comes to my personal space, too much clutter leaves me feeling tired, anxious, and overwhelmed. Yet, having a home without art leaves me feeling empty and alone.
Last year I returned from Quebec City where I bought myself a painting by artist Jean-Francois Caron. I was drawn to this piece because it reminded me of my childhood — particularly those hot summer nights when I went “camping” in our backyard.
My parent’s yard was quite big, and sometimes they would set a tent outside for me far enough away from the house so that I could feel like I was on an adventure (and perhaps they could get some privacy). I would walk to 7-11 and use my pocket money to buy a Raspberry Slushie and some dark chocolate that would be my “stash” for the night. Equipped with a flashlight, I’d snuggle down deep into my sleeping bag and dive deep into a book, my adventure within an adventure. Then, at midnight, I would sneak out of my tent so that I could look up at the stars. Oh, so many stars. It was then that I would imagine all the things I wanted to do, all the places I wanted to go. This painting brought me back to that time. But that was not all.
On the back of that memory, tumbled many more memories, all of the times I’ve found myself in wonder, gazing up at the stars at night. Different moments, different countries, different people, the same sky. In one instance, I’m sitting on a rooftop in Gwangju. Laughing and sharing stories, our eyes drifting between the stars overhead and the twinkle of the city lights below. In another memory, I float peacefully on my back in the Mediterranean sea, immersed within a blanket of phosphorescence mirrored by a sea of stars. Next, I’m camping in the Kalahari, with stars so close it feels like you could reach out and grab them if you tried. Finally, I’m back in Brisbane. Midnight picnics in New Farm Park. A glass of wine paired with a sky of stars.
This single painting managed to unlock a lifetime of beautiful memories in a moment. While I don’t tend to buy many things, I will consider certain items that bring me enjoyment. For me, without question, art provides that joy. It’s my key to unlocking a lifetime of stories.