It can be so easy to spend our inner life in the suburbs of our soul rather than venturing forth to the rocky coastline of risk and vulnerability. Within the gated communities of our mind are house after house, street after street, lamp post after lamp post of repetition. What will the next street look like on that walk? The last one. But to hike out, way out, beyond the gates of safety and deep into the rocky hills and over the treacherous mountains to the vast green coast of rock and surf where wind may lift you and wave may overwhelm you. That is living.
This series of stones from a dowager’s broach were bought, I imagine, in some smokey den in the middle east in the quiet of murmurs and furrowed brows. The owner took these rubies to the jeweler and asked for a design which would set them off, and the result was a broach in the form of a palm tree of diamonds with these rubies set within the palm fronds. What I love about it is that palm trees are brown and green and do not have massive red, round fruit. So the palm tree broach seems a strange creation. Many of us would have used the rubies in a broach of apples in a lapis bowl or perhaps cherries on an emerald branch. But the artists and craftsman took these rubies and reinvented them into a strange and magical unreality of risk for the sheer sake of beauty and whimsey.
I want my life to be like that. I do not mind a tragic death, but would rather not have a dull one. I like raising money because it releases the adventure of a gift into the ferocity of a mission. But I also like the risk. Will they say yes? Will they say no? How will this conversation go? Can I let go of the temptation to manipulate and simply ask in the absolute vulnerability of two well and honest humans discussing possibilities for making the world a tiny bit better because of a gift made to make something new happen?
The house needs to be cleaned. The bills need to be paid. The laundry needs to be done. My shoes need to be shined. I get all that and I will try to be faithful to these mundane tasks. But then, when that has been accomplished I want to invite a stranger to my table, pour wine, serve slow braised chicken thighs with mushrooms, leeks and apples in apple brandy and honey over egg noodles dressed with sage brown butter. I want to light candles and let he conversation hike out past sidewalks and stop signs to where, in the wind and the rocks, the surf and the cliff, the peat bogs and the occasional quick-sand, we may hike our imaginations to friendship’s great adventure.