By Rich Figel
A chance encounter at Whole Foods in Kailua this week got me to thinking about the fleeting nature of life and the regrets of the dying. Before I get to my weekend recommendation to go see the Hawaii Quilt Guild show at Linekona Art Academy (across from the Honolulu Academy of Arts, which is now the Honolulu Museum of Arts) let me explain my train of thought...
I had just finished shooting a segment about the Paul Brown salon in Kailua, which ties into a story on the Paul Brown Institute at Remington College. My camerman, Stanford Chang, and I were getting sandwiches at the new Whole Foods superstore when I recognized the woman behind the counter. She used to be a waitress at the old Brent's Deli, which was beloved for their great sandwiches and deli food. She told me Brent recently died. I didn't know him personally, but I sure missed his Reuben sandwiches when he decided to close the restaurant. Truth be told, the Whole Food sandwiches were all right... just nothing special. They lacked the something extra that came with Brent's food, including the old-fashioned diner waitress attitude.
From there, Stan and I went to shoot the WorkForce job fair at the Blaisdell. There were more than 175 employers and other career-related exhibitors, with a steady stream of job seekers. But it wasn't the mob scene it had been two or three years ago when there was an air of desperation after this country teetered on the brink of Depression. If anything, there was a calmness and sense that people had more control over their destiny now.
Then I went home and it seemed every news channel was running a story about that corpse flower at the Foster Botanical Garden, which took 10 years to bloom here in Hawaii. People were lining up to get a whiff of death! Which got me to reflecting on last weekend, when my wife and I went to the "Echoes of Rainbows" flower show at the Academy of Arts -- yeah, I know it merged with the Contemporary Museum and changed its name, but it will always be the Academy of Arts to me. There were beautiful flower arrangements and lovely photos that had a rainbow theme (the UH Rainbow logo was missing in action, however) and we really enjoyed the temporary exhibit, which is only done every three years by the Garden Club of Honolulu.
There were a lot of senior citizens and elderly folks in wheelchairs. Many were apparently gardeners or flower growers themselves. You could see the appreciation in their eyes for these ethereal blooms that would eventually wither and drop to the ground. Yet they seemed happy and at peace... in my mind, I couldn't help but think about all the younger and middle-aged people I see every day rushing around, working hard, and wondered how happy they truly were with their lives. Did they take time to stop and smell the corpse flower, or gaze at rainbows when they weren't on their smart phones?
Anyhow, as we left the museum, Isabel noticed there were people entering the Art Academy building across the street. So we decided to investigate and discovered there was a free quilt show going on inside. As soon as I walked in, I was awestruck by the colors, patterns and variety of designs -- some were historical, others were whimsical like a quilt made of scarves a retired woman used to wear to work every day. In one room, I experienced a hundred stories told in visually arresting ways. Please go see it while you can, since it only runs until this Sunday, March 20. Here's a link to the Hawaii Quilt Guild site.
I don't know much about quilting. Yet I have another personal connection to it. When I got sober back in 1988, my AA sponsor -- Kevin Cronin -- and his wife had their own Hawaiian Quilting kits mail-order business, which they ran out of a small apartment on Richards Street. Eventually, Kevin moved to the Mainland and built up a successful Arizona real estate business. But in the process, he relapsed and became addicted to prescription drugs. He died from an overdose awhile back. I still think of him in that little apartment putting together his quilting kits.
The last piece of this blog entry was supplied by a Facebook post about a nurse who listed the top five regrets of the dying. I don't think you'll be too surprised by her findings, but it's a reminder that we can choose our own paths to happiness and satisfaction. Here's that link.
When I look around my home office, I notice my life is organized in little project stacks -- screenplays, books, stuff for my OC16 TV show, material for my blogs...sort of like a patchwork quilt. It is incomplete and flawed, but I am happy with my work. It is life as art.
High school sports are winding down, which means my Career Changers TV show is returning to its regular time slots. For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV or check out videos from past and current episodes on the CCTV YouTube Channel.