It must be said that lots of things bore me: for example, reality TV, Serious Novels, political pundits, and lime scale remover. But I like to think that I have the capacity to be intrigued by things wherever I go and whatever I'm doing, even when I might on the whole be bored. I like to think that I have the awareness and openness to let things strike me even when I'm not expecting to be struck. I think this habit of mind is one of the keys to being an artist or a writer. (And it makes being a parent more fun, too!)
The lime scale remover is a case in point. I was in a mall many years ago when I was approached by one of those people with clipboards and asked if I would take part in a survey. "Why not," I thought. I had nowhere to be and I'd never done anything of the sort before. It could be interesting. So the woman took me into a back room and proceeded for the next twenty minutes or so to press me for my deep and heart-felt passions on the topic of lime scale remover. I'd never even heard of lime scale before, and had no feelings on the topic whatsoever. This was when I realized just how boring a subject lime scale remover intrinsically is. But the over-all experience was, indeed, kind of interesting. It made me wonder about all sorts of things: that this is how decisions get made about what products I'll have the option of purchasing, the creative and moral implications of advertising, that some people out there actually do care passionately about lime scale and its removal, and what makes those people tick, that there are these little cubicle offices behind the scenes at the mall that I'd never seen before, and how every place I go and everything I do is really made possible by little back rooms that I never see. And that's actually really interesting stuff. I love having the veil drawn back to see what goes into the things I take for granted.
For art this awareness may be primarily visual - to notice the interesting patterns or curves all around, in the natural and the human-made, in the unusual and the everyday. For writing the awareness must encompass conversations, situations, all sorts of human interactions, the emotions in myself, smells, tastes, and all kinds of sensations, as well as the visual. But whether as an artist or a writer, I always try to remind myself to be aware of those elements of life that are interesting, surprising, and unexpected, and that simultaneously ring absolutely true. And the wonderful thing about art and writing is that every time I find some treasure of truth, I can simultaneously keep it for myself and set about to share it with everyone else.
[Pictures: Let Your Hair Down, rubber block print by AEGN, 2008;
Trucks in Bed, rubber block print by AEGN, 2007.]