Last week I met a man who described European streets so clearly I felt I was there with him, knew and loved his wine, spoke French and English fluently, and owned a collection of books that would probably cause world envy. He also hated sports. Another man after my own heart. He is also 73 years old.
Ah, they do not make men like that anymore. He lived in a faraway country and invited me to see a certain beautiful city rich in culture with him sometime. He said we would plan it on email. He was described to me as a serious, polished man, and he was that, but I found him to be funny and very easy to talk to. Perhaps because he is a Catholic priest with the heart of a missionary.
I remember a math professor, probably around the same age, who invited me and my brother to his vacation house that was straight out of a magazine. I was then reviewing for the bar and the royal treatment suited me. He checked his students’ papers while listening to Carmina Burana on the terrace while my brother taught me how to kayak. I went up to the terrace, curious about the music he was listening to, and he told me the version of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was the best. I finished a book about French cuisine I found inside the guest room, and left a Thank You note inside for him and his family. The week after, my brother handed me a cassette tape of Carmina Burana by the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra from the wonderful professor.
It is the week of Steve Jobs’ death, a week of releasing my inner geek and my creative genius. I also remember the wonderful men who, like my father, stood out from the rest of the pack because they used their brains and appreciated the arts.
One of my former spiritual directors, who is about Steve Jobs’ age, is an iconoclast and gifted me with his beautiful work before leaving the country.
I was surfing tonight and stumbled upon a page dedicated to different artists’ reinterpretations of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. I was soothed. I also saw a video on YouTube featuring the song Vincent played to his art. It was sad, and yet very beautiful.
Why is that, why is something so sad also so beautiful?
I will leave you with this video, as I contemplate how I can, as Steve Jobs encouraged the 2005 Stanford graduates to do, “Stay Hungry” and “Foolish” and contribute something beautiful to the world.