when i was in school, i took a class for my program called “social objects” which explored the social value, messages, and implications of various objects (e.g. why do you throw away a shirt because it has a hole or a stain? does it stop working because it’s stained? what message do we send and receive from a stained shirt? man, i miss school). throughout the class, we had to maintain a collection and create a way of curating it as a final project. the problem is, collections tend toward the creepy. beenie babies, baseball cards, state quarters–all the things people tend to collect are either hokey or downright weird (dolls).
but there’s a collection that i kind of want to create, based on something that happened on the Best Day Ever (ca. 2002). sara, our old roommate jared, and i spent the day at the beach by lake shore drive. jared and i went to creep on these old ladies in uber-modest bathing suits who we were certain were the 80-year-old incarnations of sara and i, and we came back, giddy to tell sara about our doppelgangers, only to find sara asleep on the beach with bird shit on her face. we were laughing so hard, we couldn’t even tell her what was funny. shortly thereafter, we left the beach and started walking home, but it was so hot about halfway between the beach and navy pier that we took our clothes back off and jumped into the water. when we were finally cool, we meandered down to navy pier, where we sat on a bench, watching kids play in a fountain.
this brings us to the point: there was a kid playing in the fountain who was so fulfilled and so adorably fat that we named him the little buddha. he was so beautifully…whole. not lacking anything, not wanting anything, just happy to be.
i’ve started noticing these kids, i think because it’s a feeling that i don’t think i had much as a kid, and a feeling even now that i strive to have more often. you can’t will yourself to a place of wholeness, so i do a lot of investigating of what is lacking, what would make me feel complete. and sometimes, it’s just seeing it exist in someone else. so i think i (and hopefully sara) am starting a collection of photos of little buddha kids.
herewith, the little buddha from the perfume pagoda in vietnam, one of the holiest places in the city of Hue (prononuced “Hway”). it’s the sort of place where everyone slips off their shoes and pads softly around, placing offerings and incense for their departed relatives and ancestors. but not this guy. he’s beautifully irreverent, eschewing the scent of burning incense, and most importantly, rockin’ silk pajamas.