I've been contemplating emptiness lately. It can inspire us to take action from a place of gratitude and curiosity. From a young age I had an insatiable emptiness that drove me to leave my home and search out new experiences through travel. Cooking and experimenting with food was already a keen part of my life, and it shaped the way I chose to interact with people. I saw how food filled a space - a connection that allows people to come together in ways that are similar, decreasing a divide. Offerings of sustenance is also a metaphor, that allows for an opportunity to fill ourselves with new perspectives. I believe we need to always make room for these experiences. The moment we stop leaving space for curiosity and new experiences, we start dying.
Perspective is everything. As I sat midway through completing my painting I contemplated the empty space on the canvas, what we artists refer to as negative space. I pondered whether to leave it or fill it. But interestingly, after playing with it, I decided the metaphor of emptiness worked in many ways beyond compositionally; the emptiness left by Anthony Bourdain's departure and also a space for things still to be discovered, as encouraged by his words (see below). I considered an empty stomach versus a stomach fed. A mind fed versus an empty mind and the contradictions that remain. An appreciation for what we have and an invitational space for the offerings of others. A space in between where we can meet and connect and fill the space with new perspectives and stories. A space with no absolutes.
I am reminded of my favourite words by Anthony Bourdain:
"If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch. Move."
To me, nothing could speak more succinctly about creating space for new experiences and other perspectives beyond our own. As a person who loves to move and has moved often in my life whether geographically or through the movement of my body, his words resonate with me deeply. I have learned more about myself and other cultures by meeting other people in their natural environments and inviting them into my space - metaphorically and literally, though sharing food and conversation. Movement will always allow for more insight, growth, and connection, and ultimately the ability to see how we build our own walls when we choose to focus on what our differences are rather than what we have in common - a very necessary contemplation, currently and always.
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