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Let me begin by complementing the entire staff on another wonderful program.

I have attached a photo of myself in front of a Pierre Bonnard painting at the Pompidou Museum in Paris. My wife had sent me there to meet up with my two sons(25 & 30) as a sixtieth birthday present. It was like being back in college. We stayed in a relative cheap hotel and I followed them around Paris for a week. One major stop on their itinerary was the Pompidou. Modern art was much more their thing than their father's. Upon entering the museum, we each headed off in a separate direction and I found myself before this, in my opinion, not-modern painting. And it is in this unlikely setting and posture that I experienced what Einstein referred to as an experience of the universe as a single significant whole. Such an experience that when I returned to Texas, I wrote a poem describing that moment so that I might revisit it in the future. And, as you will see, I am not a poet!

Below is a note I wrote to myself:

At the Musee Pompidou, a museum attended more for the boys than myself, I was drawn to a painting,
more impressionistic than modern, that animated an idea in which I held great interest. It was a self portrait by
Pierre Bonnard; a second rendering of a scene painted earlier in his life. The scene was of the artist, late in
life, seated at a table in his bathroom. The earlier painting was of a young man, handsome, strong of body,
and surrounded by expensive accoutrement and furnishings. Fine bottles of oils and perfumes covered the
table and a plethora of colorful fabrics and drapes in the background. The later painting was portrayed as
much more austere. The table with a few simple containers and the colorful fabrics replaced with a rather
plain and non-imposing wood panel. The artist himself now older, somewhat fragile, yet with a contented
posture. This later painting carried a harmonious air not present in the earlier work. The symbolism in these
two paintings is revealing and refreshing. The bright colors, the bravado, the omniscience of the earlier
painting portrays the neurosis of man. The psychic struggles that all humankind create and inherit through
living. The second painting is stripped of these colorful appendages and ascetic. A reduction of the ego and
the neuroses it has created. The revelation is that this “gift of life” is part of the natural cycle of life. Its arrival
may be accelerated or retarded by the manner in which one chooses to live but the gift is there for everyone.
It doesn’t have to be earned, it is there. The Buddhist monk might find that peace long before the American
corporate mogul but both will find it! One may enjoy it for years while the other perhaps only moments. We
leave this world as we enter it, in peace, free of baggage. Pierre Bonnard's piece acted as a portal through
which this revelation was revealed. And that is the magic of art, all art.

I have had more than my fair share of those moments in my life but I have never been able to pursue them. They come to me as a gift from life. And if that is what Einstein, Democritus, the post-modern theologians, Jesus, Buddha, Meister Eckhart, the Sufi, the Kabbalist, and others have spoken of, then I am in is the hub.

David Richardson