On Being More Present

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Yoshi out walking on the Art Farm with Ed

Last night a circle of women sat around a fire at the Art Farm in Nebraska and declared their intentions of change in honor of the new moon. One of my goals is to be more present — and for me, this often means knowing when NOT to work. I tend to work all the time.

Last week, the artists in residence drove our cars in a chain to Polk, NE to move furniture out of a home. After everything was cleared, the owner of the property Jave Yoshimoto, who told us to call him “Yoshi,” asked if anyone would be willing to help him clean the place up.  Aimee and I immediately volunteered and were soon joined by our friend Patricia.

While it would have been easy to say no and to head home to work on art, this seemed more important to me for some reason — to help out a fellow artist and to have a great experience to share among friends.

After about three hours, the place was complete — and we were able to learn more about Yoshi and see an example of his amazing art. We celebrated our efforts over iced coffees and smoothies back in Aurora, the small town close to the Art Farm.

A couple of days later, I saw Yoshi had posted this story on Facebook:

Today I do my final prep to rent out my house in Polk, Nebraska. I have owned my place for five years and it’s sat empty with no occupants. I’ve stopped by every summer to check on things, drop things off and what not, but over the years the house has accumulated tons of furniture, art supplies, etc that my wife and I both hold sentimental values to.

The other day, with the help of some amazing residents from Art Farm, I was able to completely empty the house. The house looked like it did five years ago; blank yet full of dreams and hopes. In a way, I was sad because it felt as though my memories from the past five years have been erased clean. While I know that the things I donated to art farm will be used be artists and writers in the future, these were pieces I built my dreams and hopes on. Part of me is having some difficulties letting go, but the reality is that these pieces are merely symbolic, and not actual memories. I’m trying to take some solace in that.

The good part in all of this is that I’m giving a family a chance to rebuild their lives after having some bad breaks. My house rent @ $300/mo is something they could afford, and when I first met with them, they seemed incredibly eager, desperate, and most impressively, very honest with their struggles and background. The wife has had a stroke, and the husband is making an hourly wage supporting both of them with a job that provides them with health insurance. They’ve been living out of their mobile home for a while and been traveling to truck stops in other towns to take a shower for $15 at a time.

Is there a risk by renting out to these folks? Yes, but people have given me a chance in the past with my track record of mistakes that I have made. I think it’s fair that I give these people a second chance to live in a house, with a hot shower they can take anytime they want, and a room to put their full sized bed in. Tomorrow is the right time to have their dreams and hopes realized in my house, and start a new chapter in their lives.

I could write about why it’s touching that we unknowingly were able to assist Yoshi in his attempt to help this family or why it’s meaningful to do something small for someone you don’t know or why it’s cosmic to get to meet someone like Yoshi, randomly in a small town in Nebraska — but I think that all goes without saying.

Check out Yoshi’s website www.javeyoshimoto.com.

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