The mighty monkey heart
Here comes another personal story, with a point:
When I was in California, I spent every free minute I had with my friends. "I'm coming to town!" I shouted. "Clear your calendars!" And hot damn, they did. We went to French restaurants and dive bars. We went to Hayes Valley brunches and Oakland museums. We hiked the Dipsea Trail. We spent long, boozy afternoons at the ranch. It was the best. I felt like Bjork - violently happy.
And I remember thinking, How in the world did I manage to find these people?
Because they are exactly like the friends I have in Austin. In fact, if my Austin friends met my SF friends, they would become friends in a heartbeat. They would fall in friend-love. They would push me out of the way to get to each other.
I didn't realize it at the time, because I felt so different. My world had turned upside down, and I just figured that the new people in my life were going to be radically different, too.
There I was in an unfamiliar city, starting a new life, meeting new people, but it turns out that my heart wanted the same old wonderful thing and knew how to find it.
I am telling you this story because it has something to do with the creative life. It reminds me of a story Lynda Barry told in her writing workshop.
She said, Give a monkey a camera.
Then put the monkey in the time-travel machine and send him back to Napoleon's day.
When the monkey comes back, will he give us pictures like this?
No. He will give us pictures like this:
Because somehow, that monkey would find some bananas. No matter where they go, monkeys are on the lookout for bananas and won't stop until they find them.
It's the same with creatives, I think. We are interested in everything, we are curious about the world, but in our work we keep coming back to the same themes and ideas. We all have our inner bananas and our yearned-for friends: all we have to do is find them -- and maybe they want to be found.
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