`This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.
This painting has a long history, one that goes back to 2003, when my wife Dina and I went to the U.K. to see her brother and his family. During this visit, inside one of South Kensington’s busy and delightful Indian restaurants, over house wine and a table filled with nan, Yellow Mung Dal Soup, and curry something or other, I asked Dina if she would marry me. This trip marked my first visit to Europe, and the days and nights were strewn with a myriad of emotions. During the last afternoon of our memorable English adventure, wandering through lush and peaceful St. James Park, Dina happened to catch a photograph of a man feeding birds at the edge of the water.
This image came to represent our humble beginnings and the innocence with which we stepped into our married life.
The Rumi poem above was our statement to each other and to all those who attended our wedding. However, like so many things in life, this poem grew out of its original simplicity, and has evolved to encompass truths we could not intend or articulate in our early months and years together. The poem, I now realize, was not simply about the kind of people that we thought we were, or the message we wanted to communicate to those who celebrated with us.
Though once this poem acted as a pointer directing us toward an unknown future, I can say in total truth that we are just now beginning to recognize this “unknown future” as our own; come September 5, 2014, Dina and I will celebrate our tenth anniversary as a married couple.
This painting, “A Hundred veils Falling,” has a double meaning for me as I continue to pursue the truth of my unique being. On one hand it symbolizes the thin, semi-opaque layers of an individual life that was so fiercely protected. Though fear of the unknown at times threatens to hold me back, these layers do, year after year, continue to fall away.
On the other hand, these veils also represent the passage of time, and the subtle process of dis-remembering. I once prided myself on a laser-focus memory that for one reason or another served me well. Now however, it doesn’t seem to be so necessary.
A number of years ago, my wife and I became the adoptive parents of an Ethiopian-born baby girl, and ever since her appearance I can hardly remember a day without her. A hundred veils falling each moment, and a few that are going up. But that’s okay with me. As I cultivate a keener vision, who needs a laser-sharp memory?
I want to see the truth of this moment. Everything else just doesn’t matter any more.
December 16, 2015