Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Hope, Pennsylvania

Once upon a time there was a little town in a nice green valley where a river ran clean and cool and some farmers raised their families and crops. Everyone was very happy and content with things and went about their daily lives with serenity and grace.
Then there was an awful war and some of the farmers and their sons were killed but when the war was over the ones who hadn't died came back to the valley and life returned to normal. You see, farmers live with lie and death every day and know that sometimes the crop is good and sometimes it is not. They accept the things they cannot change and do not think about them much.
But in other places in the land there were creators of things or "artists" as they are sometimes called and they were unhappy with the way things were, what with people fighting wars and all. They wanted to know why things happened like they did, and they thought all the time about questions that have no answers and where a straight line goes to and noticed things like dewdrops and wrinkled faces or the shape of shadows.
Some of the unhappy artists went looking for a place where they could be creative as they called it and where it would be quiet so they could think and where there were not so many people to remind them of how many questions they hadn't answered yet.
Now the artists found the little town in the green valley by the river and they liked it very much because they could be themselves and even if they did things very differently the only people watching were he farmers and they would only shrug their shoulders and go about their business.
Well, the artists told all their artist friends about this new and wondrous place and pretty soon there were quite a few of them, painting and writing and sculpting and singing and photographing and they would get together on winter nights to laugh about how poor they were, and share the warmth of friendship.
Then one day some people were out for a drive in the country and they saw an artist sitting outside painting and they stopped and looked at the picture and liked it very much so they asked the man if they could buy the painting. Now, the artist did not know what to say, because he had just been painting a picture of a question that had no answer, and did not know what kind of price to put on that, as he had made it out of love. But, the people seemed quite nice and he was a little hungry so he named a sum of money.
Well, the people thought the price was very fair for they they could see the man had made the picture out of love, so they quickly paid the artist and drove back to the city, telling all their friends how lucky they had been to acquire the piece of art and the artist told all his friends how lucky he had been to sell the piece of art to people who hadn't even asked him to answer any questions.
Pretty soon a lot of people were driving to the little town in the hope of seeing an artist working and all the artists were very busy selling their work and they weren't so hungry anymore. Things went fine for awhile until so many people wanted things that the artists did not have time to think anymore so they started creating anything and they found the people bought it anyway because it was very crowded and they, too, didn't have time to think.
You can easily see how confusing things got, for pretty soon lots and lots of people were coming to the little town without knowing why, and lots and lots of artists were creating things without knowing why.
The farmers by this time were beginning to move away because there were so many people around that it frightened them. You see, they didn't understand why all these people come to town and paid money for things that had only made the farmers shrug their shoulders. and anyway, their cows would not give milk with all the noise on weekends.
Now that was sad enough, but then one day a businessman from the city noticed that the little town had no place for people to eat so he opened a restaurant and pretty soon he did so well he left the city and stayed in the little town. In not much time at all there were lots of business people who opened more places for people to eat, and places that sold souvenirs so that the people who could not afford to buy the artists work could still prove to their friends that they had been to the little town and walked around.
Now the town was crowded all the time with people buying souvenirs and grabbing bites to eat, and going back home without knowing why they came, and the artists were all very busy selling things that didn't ask a question any more.
Finally, the little town had an "Arts Festival" and, although thousands of people came, there weren't any artists left who cared about where a straight line goes to, or noticed things like dewdrops and wrinkled or the shape of shadows or making things with love.
So the businessmen started selling hot dogs and soft pretzels from rolling carts and paved the farmers fields and shuttled the people back and forth in little buses pointing out the places where the artists used to sit and work.
You see, the artists had become unhappy with the way things were and started yearning for a place where it would be quiet so they could think and where there were not so many people to remind them of how many questions they hadn't answered yet. And they found a little town in a nice green valley where a river runs clear and cool, and some farmers raise their families and crops. And they get together on winter nights and laugh about how poor they are and share the warmth of friendship.
But, I'm not allowed to tell you where it is.

No comments: