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An Artist of Life

January 15, 2012

Last week, I attended the funeral of my friend J.’s husband, S. He was 88 years old. The day did not start well. I woke up with a riproaring pinkeye infection in my left eye, because I had stabbed myself with an eyeliner pencil the night before. Then, as I was walking to the Hoboken PATH to attend this solemn event, I stepped in dog poop. Good times.

Finally, I got to the Riverside Memorial Chapel. J. had invited several of her and S.’s friends to speak and share their memories of him, and as they did so, I was very touched. I did not think I would cry, but I did. Friends are truly life’s most valuable resource, and S. had amassed quite a collection over his lifetime. People should feel lucky to make one or two such good friends during their lives, and S. had many.

One said the best piece of advice S. ever gave him was to “always walk on the bright side.” Another friend said that not only was S. an artist in the literal sense (he was – he worked in both oils and pastels, and was a sculptor), but he was also an “artist of life.”

I believe that this friend meant S. was quite the Renaissance Man. In addition to his art, he had a degree in electrical engineering, held two patents for equipment to load/unload ships more efficiently, started several companies, traveled and consulted with corporate clients all over the world, and was a board member and then vice chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange. (And I think I’m leaving a few of his achievements out…)

I love people like this. I think it is important to have a diverse group of friends and cultivate diverse interests. Maybe I feel this way because I am a Gemini, as was S. I think that’s why I like to write about so many different things (beauty, health, green technology, robotics…). I love that one day, I can interview a scientist who demo’d his robots on the Today show, and the next, interview a celeb about being the face of a makeup campaign.

Sometimes I wonder if this wide range of interests is to my detriment, as in “jack of all trades, master of none,” but it keeps me from getting bored, AND its fun and gives me something to talk about at the dinner table.

We are at the beginning of a new year, and I try every year to cultivate a few new friends and have one or two new experiences. What about you? Do you strive to be a so-called “artist of life”? If so, how?

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