by Carrie Kirk
He said it, and I nodded. "There is hope for us but always in moving forward together."
It was author John Green, crackling with energy, being funny and self-deprecating and so smart. He was delivering a talk to about 300 people but what felt like an intimate group -- maybe because we were all in the Vonnegut camp, Green camp or both -- downtown in Indianapolis Public Library's Clowes Auditorium. (To watch the author's talk in its entirety, visit http://www.imcpl.org/readersconnection/?p=48158.)
In exchange for his words, Green was accepting the Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Literature Award presented by the Indianapolis Public Library. Folks who were young (numerous high school students), old (me) and distant (patrons of Sister City's Cologne Library, via technology) filled the room and, for close to an hour, Green expertly wove together a wondrous, human tale about Vonnegut, the beginnings of our city, and how Indianapolis has become a pointedly chosen home to Green, his wife and their two children.
I listened to his words while sitting on the steps just off to the left of the auditorium's side, rather than in a seat. (Full disclosure: I am chronically late for everything. The only thing I have been early for was the birth of my two children, and that was their doing. I just had to be there.)
Just a couple of days before the library event, I was lucky enough to be a part of the 10th anniversary of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art's Quest for the West's kickoff.
Fans of the event have shortened this monthlong exhibition to one word and one word only --Quest. It features new works and the opportunity to buy art by some of today's best western artists, with a special opening weekend where patrons have an opportunity to attend special events to meet and visit with most of the participating artists.
According to James Nottage, vice president and chief curatorial officer, the event has brought collectors from around the country to our city to meet the artists, purchase their work and help make the Eiteljorg-- a museum in a city so far away from the likes of Phoenix, Santa Fe and Cody -- "a prominent part of the national contemporary western art scene."
I don't know much western art or its esteemed artists. I'm ignorant but at least I'm honest. But here's what I do know: At the Quest gallery opening, I witnessed real relationships in real time -- among the artist, the work and the patron.
Here's an unflattering fact about yours truly: If I'm not careful when I'm out in public surrounded by hordes of people, you will find me at any given point staring -- eyes boring and bugging out actually -- without any shame or disguise.
Sometimes my mouth drops open a little, as if I'm watching a short film or experiencing a small seizure. My excuse for tunneling into other's conversations and interactions is that I am enthralled by life's screenplay playing out before me.
At Quest, you will be relieved to know, my mouth remained shut as I watched what Green had said come to life before my eyes. He had said we need people moving forward together. There was indeed commerce going on with patrons purchasing art. But there was also shaking of hands, sharing of both good news and trying times, and long embraces. There was connection.
Life shows us each and every day that anything can happen. In his Sept. 14th talk, Green quoted author Terry Pratchett who died just this year, "Most gods throw dice, but fate plays chess, and you don't find out 'til too late that he's been playing with two queens all along."
In our lives, there is so much "bad" that can happen. Sadness too. But on one of life's good days, you may find a painting that speaks to you. By chance, you might meet the painting's creator who speaks to you. Courtesy of either queen's move, a relationship beginning with mutual adoration about composition, color and content forms between you and the artist, and life becomes more beautiful.
I believe that life mandates that the bad and the sad each is easier to navigate when others are alongside of you. I also believe that the same rule of thumb applies with the good. Green was right when he told young, old and distant people at his talk that there is hope for us if we move forward together. We'll never win life's proverbial game of chess, much less even understand it, but it surely is much more tolerable, more manageable and even more fun to play when we travel life together.