It could be a word or phrase. A person’s name. A song. Anything really. But all of sudden, out of nowhere, you start seeing or hearing something everywhere.
Know what I’m talking about?
My wife recently had this happen. Every time she looked at a clock, it was 12:34. Which is memorable because it’s 1-2-3-4.
For me, it’s been butterflies crossing interstates and highways.
No matter where I am, a butterfly sputters and spits across the road, tossed into chaos by the gust of passing cars.
I’ve begun to wonder how this is like art. Is art in today’s culture like a butterfly crossing a highway? Beauty trying to survive the onslaught of humanity? Transcendence lost in the transactional?
And whose place is it anyway? The butterfly’s or mine?
I believe we share this space. We co-exist.
Art needs the tension of our messy, self-centered culture for relevance. Just like the market needs the beauty and shock art offers.
Without the drone of everyday life’s transactional nature, moments of transcendence couldn’t happen.
As much as I want to take the side of the butterfly, I’m one of the human missiles careening down the road, noticing butterflies through near misses.
Which is kind of beautiful. And kind of sad.
Just like art.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on September 26, 2012.