Sunday, August 29, 2010

...and all ye need to know

"A cake! Look, mama!"

I looked in the direction Ariel was pointing at. It was a cake alright -- a huge, round chocolate cake, unassuming in its basic chocolate-ness. A middle-aged woman was hunched over the cake, arranging candles in a circle around it, and in the middle, she planted an '8' candle and a '0' one.

"Someone's having a birthday!" I watched as she lit the candles and carried the cake towards the table of 10 to 12 people in the other side of the cafe.

"An 80th birthday!" Trust Amon to be the one who always picks up and emphasizes the detail. (Aside: He would make a really good journalist, with his ability to hit on the key point and express it in short, succinct sentences all the time. And he always has a kicker.)

"'t that something? To celebrate your 80th birthday here at Fallingwater!"

It was a rhetorical question. But both kids nodded their heads as we watched the party sing the birthday song. They sang rather quietly. The clapping at the end of the song was as genteel and softly resounding as it would be in a private recital. It was a small group of mostly seniors, but their joy was filling up the room in a big way, that could easily drown out any rowdy bar bash.

Wow...80. I had never contemplated that number until then. I was almost halfway there, I found myself thinking. Wouldn't it be nice if I could have my 80th here too, I continued to muse. And that's the way it goes once one starts getting wistful thoughts. Wow...Amon would be...50! He'll probably be a paleontologist...or architect (those being his two big loves now).

"Mummy why aren't you eating your pickle?" Nothing like an Ariel rebuke to snap me out of my daydreams.

But dreams are good..."we are such stuff as dreams are made on" right? I have another whole lifetime to live before I get to 80. And yes, I think I would make it a point to try and celebrate that 2nd round of 40 back here, at one of the most beautiful houses and remarkable architectural landmark in the world, by a man whom I deeply admire for his genius in blending art and nature, the organic and the technical.

I can't remember exactly how and when the love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright started. But it definitely had something to do with a missed calling. Before I took the road most traveled, collecting 'A's on my way to a typical college education, I had wanted to run off and pursue a passion for design. I had spent hours among the design, art, interiors and architecture shelves of libraries and one day, I saw a brochure for a design school in the UK.

But when I was in school, nobody ever told me that I could do anything I wanted to do, and be whatever I wanted to. I was told to shut up, listen, raise my hand when I wanted to answer (not ask) the question, study, get 'A's and collect all the certificates that come with the major examinations. So, no, I didn't explore that route and didn't think that it was in my power to do so.

So, as I took the well trodden path, I had paused at various points to ponder what I would have become if I had the courage to veer 'off-course' way back when. I think I would have been an interior designer, with a mission of helping people create aesthetically pleasing spaces to live and be happy in. There is much to be said about beauty in life, and a life of beauty. It's not about makeup and clothes (although I love those, too) but about that little piece of your soul that feels free and uplifted. Some find it in art, some in music, some in nature, some in a 20-foot putt, etc. But everyone has that capacity to find it.

At 80, what more could I really ask for, then, than to be surrounded by so much love, joy and beauty? And to be in a healthy state of mind, body and soul to appreciate all that.

"Beauty is truth, and truth beauty." - that is all
Ye on earth know, and all ye need to know

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