My first business was based on an invention of mine that looked amazing—an optical device that animated still images to people in motion. For the business, we installed them on subway tunnel walls to show ads to riders between stations, sharing revenue with the subway system, before everyone had animation devices in their pockets. Outside the business, I also explored the medium as an art with properties unlike any other, which led to shows in galleries and museums.
Since they were internally lit and glowed from the inside, they also looked great in dance clubs. In those younger days I frequented a few, which led to the installing the displays in VIP rooms. Then a friend connected me to the people building Crobar and the next thing I knew, they featured my work in the grand opening and made me a resident artist of the club that dominated New York for years. I never paid or waited in line to get in. I’d get a table that stock brokers paid something like $5,000 for. I hung out behind the booth with world famous DJs and insiders. My reputation grew to show my work at Art Basel Miami Beach, where my name appeared in lights.
I looked up pictures of Crobar online. Amazingly, in this picture from twenty years ago, you can see one of my displays! You have to know where to look. Since it’s off, it just looks like a black box on the blue wall on the left. The bigger ones were in a different room, much bigger.
I hope you’ll pardon my reminiscing, but I wanted to set up the scene that if you asked me then if I’d prefer partying with celebrities or digging carrots out of the dirt, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. Yet a few years later, the highlight of my summer became the annual trip to visit Stoneledge Farm, the source of my weekly produce delivery, including some of the most delicious vegetables I’ve tasted.
Having experienced both, I wish I had changed earlier.
That shift seems bigger for my friends who became parents since I’ve never changed a diaper. Yet I’ve never heard a parent say they’d give up their baby so they could party like they used to.
If I lived in an unpolluted world, I might not feel so great a reward from acting in stewardship, but such will be ours for our lifetimes and then some. Past generations may have enjoyed flying and tossing disposables with abandon, but I don’t evaluate my experiences based on their values. Like a parent who enjoys taking care of their baby more than partying—is there even a comparison?—I enjoy stewardship more than jetsetting around, disconnecting from nature. The rewards don’t measure up.
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