on my drive off to work each morning, i have driven by an elderly man standing on his pueblo home’s balcony gazing out over our neighborhood. he lives in what is easily the nicest house i pass on my drive, and I have been glad to see that he actually makes use of his view of the desert from his bedroom balcony. i have even waved to him from my car as if to communicate my approval of his actions, like i am the pope of relaxation and he is a new convert.
perhaps i felt that i owed this particular man my approval because honestly, i never really see any of the supremely rich doing what I would do if i were them.
if I lived in a multi-million dollar estate in arizona, my morning might go something like this: wake up and make some extravagantly itlaian breakfast with lots and lots of spices and garlic, open the windows out on my huge balcony to entice the jackrabbits and coyotes outside, then play coy and go inside with my rich-smelling breakfast, run out, yell, “Just Kidding!” and launch the garlic mess into the chirping, squawking festering of the animals below.
however, i have never seen the rich man do this and i can assume now that he does not do this when i am not looking, because on a sunny morning this week, I saw that the desert-viewer was in fact, a statue: a life-sized bronzed woman in fact, with her hands on her hips looking out over the mountains in the distance.
now, a statue can say a lot about its owner. much of what we know about the ancient Sumerians comes from the prayer statues they left behind. you can identify Sumerian prayer statues by their characteristically large eyes and long, stylized strands of hair carved deep into the stone. the large eyes were a symbol of a righteous being—i.e. one who sees clearly. these surprised-looking statues were placed in the local temple as a representation of their owners: the statue offered libations to the gods while its owner could go back home and continue with his or her routine.
on the same day of my desert-viewer-is-actually-a-statue discovery, i happened to see another man through the large window in the front of his house, perched upon some sort of leathery sofa. he was wearing plaid sweatpants and some old white t-shirt, with a guitar strapped to his front. underneath the whisps of his bed-head long strands of hair, I could see his lips moving: he was singing.
i hope this isn’t coming off as a “carpe diem” moment, a moment that makes you want to be the guitar-singer instead of the rich man; it’s not supposed to be. and to be honest, i can’t decide which man i’d rather be like. i can see myself as both of them.
i am like the rich, balcony-standing occupant. i have left a trail of statues behind me to commemorate the beauty that i can no longer see while i am away. i’ve left them at flathead lake, on my old playroom’s rug, in the backseat of my friends’ cars, underneath the tree on christmas morning snuggled up next to my old dog max, in the second to the last practice room in biola’s hallways, on the third floor of burton barr library.
yet, i would like to think i can still sing to beauty when i see it now. i don’t need a statue to do that for me.