08 April 2011

The Smell of Artistry?

My wife ate at this really neat restaurant last night called the Mongolian Grill. The concept is kind of "Asian cuisine meets Subway." Diners walk through a series of stations to fill a bowl with the ingredients for their creation. They pick from an absurd number of meats, vegetables, sauces, starches, and other toppings, then hand their collection to a cook who turns it into something edible.

With the correct (incorrect?) choices, it was proven to me, one can create a culinary pungency that is illegal in 16 states. The smells of garlic, ginger, and (presumably) pickled opossum jowls radiated from her skin throughout the night. Even this morning, as she got out of the shower, I could smell traces of the concoction she so proudly created at the restaurant.

I wouldn't have mentioned this story here had it not been for the fact that an hour after she left for work, I caught a whiff of garlic on my shirt sleeve. I didn't even eat at the place, but now I smell like it. (Editor's note: I also mention the story here because my wife doesn't read my blog - shhhh!).

Want to know something odd? Even though I hated the smell and the type of food she ate, I liked being reminded of her. Our tastes for things like food, exercise, politics, and entertainment are as divergent as possible, but it works. It works because we're both collectors. She's a collector of exotic experiences, and I collect exotic ideas. We're better together (she may dispute this) than we are apart.

A good friend's grandfather used to tell me "if you hang around shit, you start to smell like it" (I suppose the same is true for Mongolian restaurants). What happens, then, if you hang around the virtuous, the challenging, the inspiring, the adventurous, the creative, and the intelligent? I believe who we all become is a direct result of the people with whom we surround, associate, and engage ourselves. This doesn't mean that we should seek out only those who are like us. Rather, it means that we should seek out those who can help us become who, and what, we want to be.

I was reminded of this point by a recent post a friend forwarded to me by Austin Kleon called "How to Steal Like an Artist (and 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me)". He suggests, quite wisely, that artists are collectors, not hoarders:

"...there's a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love."

While there's nothing artistic about that awful concoction my wife created, it's part of a collection I wouldn't trade for the world. What are you collecting? Who are you associating yourself with personally or professionally?

I promise you it makes a difference.


Jasolution said...

You're going to need this, Matt.


Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

Or this...


Denise Wymore said...

Mark reads my blog - but he doesn't read yours so I can safely say the same is true for us. When we met I was the Democrat Marketer and he the Republican CFO. Could we be more opposite? And yet I am proud to say that I can now "speak CFO" and that I didn't vote for Obama (oops - sorry, didn't mean to bring in politics) and that he will chime in on artistic purchases AND will listen to NPR.

I don't want to be with someone that agrees with me all the time - how boring. The fun is in the debate - and even more fun when I win.

Tim McApine said...

The week of graphic blog posts! Between this post and Andy Janning's recount of geek teen love lost, who needs video?

And may I also add that you must be very confident that your wife doesn't read your blog!