My youngest daughter, now a proud two-and-a-half-year-old, has recently embarked on her daycare journey. With this milestone, another part of my mind has liberally dislodged itself from the all-encompassing realm of 24/7 parenting, and instead is mercifully reorganizing around my individual passions and interests. Suddenly, I have time — time to explore new avenues, daydream, and immerse myself in art again. It’s a welcomed shift, allowing me to engage in conversations with grown adults, free from the constant demands of replenishing milk bottles and band-aids.

Being a parent has sparked a desire to venture into the realm of arts education, in addition to my professional filmmaking pursuits. Last year, I began to lecture at various colleges on filmmaking, and I have since made the decision to delve into academia more extensively this year. Because why not? I have the graduate degree and the industry experience to go with it. Wish me luck. I appreciate the good vibes sent my way.

Another blessing that happened in 2023 was that, after an oddly lengthy application process, I was accepted into The Getty Museum’s docent program in Los Angeles. I have been loving it so far. Beyond the practical teaching and public speaking skills gained, the program has rekindled my love for visual art, prompting a deeper understanding and engagement with various pieces and art movements. I have been supplementing my Getty studies with additional research, and feel like I’m getting an Art History degree right now. Upon completion of the (self-imposed) rigorous six-month training this coming April, I will be qualified to lead guided tours at the museum on a volunteer basis. I am realizing that although the noble pursuit of any art may never yield substantial financial returns for me, the intrinsic value is immeasurable. This is exactly how I want to spend my time on earth: doting on my family, teaching and giving back to the community in the small capacity that I can, and indulging in all the beautiful and fascinating things humankind has created over time.

I am currently immersed in the rich tapestries of the Renaissance and Baroque eras. I find myself wholeheartedly enamored with masterpieces created by the bare hands and inventive minds of Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Artemisia Gentileschi. Previously, my admiration was reserved for luminaries such as Balanchine, Hemingway, and Frida Kahlo or filmmakers like Ang Lee, Cameron, Scorcese, and Spielberg. I am a geeky fan girl. For Christmas, I have acquired an ungodly amount of used art and cinema books, which I am devouring every moment I get. This passion has even sparked a desire to learn Italian, fueled by the belief that there’s nothing quite like delving into the cultural origins and listening to scholars from those countries expound upon their artists. However, for the time being, I’ve opted to deepen my proficiency in French. I’ve reached a comfortable level where I can read novels, listen to podcasts at native speed, and watch lectures streaming from Paris’s Louvre without too much difficulty. Occasionally, I ponder if my affinity for bohemians from bygone eras signifies a connection from past lives. Digging into art history, however, is more than observing paintings — it’s a form of play. I’ve become an Indiana Jones deciphering clues in artworks, delving into artistic genealogies and family trees that rival the complexity of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, I’ve discovered a novel approach to engage with the religious Christian discourse through biblical stories depicted in paintings, despite my Buddhist background.

The Getty Museum staff impressively addresses colonialism in various pieces and facilitates DEI conversations to great growing pains among their staff, which allows me to navigate problematic works of art while maintaining a sense of peace. It’s akin to realizing that I can simultaneously admire the prose or the technological advances in filmmaking in literary and cinematic works like Gone With The Wind, for example, and yet be utterly appalled by overtly racist perspectives embedded in their narratives. This nuanced approach of combining appreciation with critical analysis in equal measure provides me with a profound sense of fulfillment.  And isn’t this what engaging with art is about? Touching upon someone else’s darkness and lightness? Realizing that even in the most perfectly crafted piece, we will always find flaws?

I am settling into my 40s now. I chose to get and stay married and birthed two kids. One might argue that I’m hovering near the zenith of my life, either still approaching, hopefully, or regrettably already on the downhill. I can reasonably infer that I’ve probably already met the most important people in my life and have likely forged the most profound relationship I will ever have. Of course, these people will evolve with me; inanimate objects of art and their abstract elusive meanings can never stand in for human relationships. But what art gives me, be it creating or consuming it, is a way to strengthen my inner life. One of my most prized possessions is a rare book written by Henry Miller, called “To Paint is to Love Again”. It’s really just a collection of fragmented thoughts on creativity, but even his mere title nails it: Art is a way to meditate. It’s a way to fall in love over and over and over again.

And that is me. Ready to love, be in love, and fall in love for the rest of my corporeal life.

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