A few years ago, a friend bought a number of StoryPeople prints for gifts. For each person on his list, he found a perfect story and we marveled at how easy it was.

And then he chose a print for himself. Or rather, it sort of chose him. It seemed to cast a spell. I watched him return, over and over to it. He had to have it. Even though he didn’t understand it. Not at all.

‘At all?’ I didn’t quite believe him. He managed high risk projects in emerging markets. That almost pre-qualified him for understanding it. Besides, anyone can take a stab (and sometimes, a punch) at interpreting. ‘At ALLLLL?’

‘Not at all.’ He read it one more time. ‘Nope. What does it mean?’

Well, I couldn’t explain it. Or maybe I wouldn’t. One of those.

It’s great when we meet art, whatever kind, and have instant sympathy. But a whole lot of art gets a whole lot of better when we invest in it, when we explore it, when we learn enough to understand it (you know, like The Wasteland. Which is why I’ll never EVER believe ANYONE who pretends they just picked up a little James Joyce for light reading. STOPPPPPP it. You are KILLING me!)

And then there’s the art, the literature, the music that we have to do something a little special for. It doesn’t need, or even want, a PhD. It doesn’t get better if you can recite all the obscure names ever associated with it.

It just seems to want us to open up, be freely curious, hear it, let it lead us out of what we expect into what we can imagine. Oh, I don’t know. Hard, isn’t it, to describe it exactly.

Either way, he got it for himself. ‘Imagining World.’

And now, especially now, at this time in the world, I really do wonder if he’s come to understand it. I imagine he has.

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