Sunday, October 23, 2005

On Being Honored

Well, it was quite an evening last night, Bush. Ellie and I were honored, at a gala dinner and auction, for our work over the past thirty-five years in the Los Angeles community of contemporary art and artists. It was the 17th annual event of this kind for L.A. Artcore, the sponsoring organization. But for us, of course, it was a first. We had accepted several months ago with, frankly, some trepidation: we did not feel particularly "honorable", and have, besides, some anxieties about making this kind of public appearance. On the other hand, we felt that the invitation was a generous and sincere one, and to accept would be a gesture of support and respect not only for the organization but for the community of artists at large. So we stepped a little past our fears and accepted with gratitude.

So the time came around, and we managed to dig out some decent clothes from amongst all those boxes I've been telling you about. The reception and dinner were at one of those big downtown hotels, the setting a cavernous ballroom, with what I'd guess to be four hundred people in attendance. You're used to such things of course, Bush, and must by now take it all in stride. For myself, with an absurd lifelong fear of opening my mouth in public, I was immensely grateful for what I seem to have learned from my meditation practice: a measure of equanimity that quite surprised me. Ellie, too, whose fears in this kind of circumstance have been greater even than my own. She was up first, and did an impeccable job in her totally unrehearsed acceptance speech. She managed to say everything so perfectly, expressing her passion for art and her gratitude to those who have supprted her over the years, that she said everything I could have wished to say myself, only better.

Still, buoyed by a wonderfully generous introduction from the artist Roland Reiss--who has, not incidentally, a much-loved piece in our own collection--I managed to find the right words for the occasion, and felt good about having been able to express my own sense of gratitude for what has been a wonderful way of life for me, both personally and professionally, for all the years I've been living in Los Angeles. I have been fortunate, indeed, to find this special outlet for my calling as a writer.

What made the evening such a special moment in our lives, though, was the presence of so many people who we love: our daughter, first, who made herself spectacular in her own inimitable and idiosyncratic way; and other family--Ellie's sister, along with her niece and one of her two nephews; and many, many artists whom we have come to know and love; and special friends among the art dealers and collectors. This was the real honor, Bush: to feel so much love. This community has given us a spiritual and intellectual home, a place where feel known, and heard, and recognized. What a gift that is!

I trust you'll forgive this brief departure from our usual conversation, Bush. Tomorrow looks to be another busy day at the construction site, but I'll certainly try to find the time to get back to our usual business. Hope you're enjoying a restful weekend. Next week looks like a busy one for you, too.


PK said...

Ahh Paul, you were wise to go. Whatever you came up with to say, that enmeshed heart and mind, may have assisted some neophyte to take the steps you and your Ellie took to get where you are at today. Yes, it's a thank you from friends, and an honor from peers, but it's more. Who knows, 10 years down the road someone else will be honored, as you and Ellie have been, and your name, or hers, or both, will come up as the impetus for what they did. Even quote a portion in the speech that gave them that spark. Congratulations to you both. In this day, Bush doesn't belong.

Fred Thompson said...

Congratulations! It is a pleasure to know you and Ellie. I wish I could have been there for the occasion.

Your friend,