I have been staging photos
of my day-to-day life,
and sharing them with my peers.
My plate of Costa Rican "typical food",
—You must be very worldly—
the pit stop on my road trip,
—Wow, a gas station—
the satisfying results of a day's work,
—You know, if you invested
all that time spent
curating an image
and checking for Likes
back into actually working,
And those are legitimate criticisms
or at least red flags
for legitimate pitfalls.
But on my recent travels
I visited the Museo de Arte Costarricense
—Look at you, touring exotic art museums—
and I learned that art history
is the history of what mattered:
filtered of ugly artifacts of reality
(recent boxes of mac 'n' cheese
I declined to photograph)
then filtered in the Instagram sense—
through artistic lenses making the pigments
in the image captured
suggest the brightness and saturation
of the moment lived.
Perhaps my endless stream of images
of my straw hat and my photogenic garden cart
makes an individual act of ego-curation:
This is Gary. Wow.
But then who remembers the names
or the admirable qualities
of those Costa Rican artists? Not Gary.
What I remember of the artists
is that they were Costa Rican,
that their work together
makes Costa Rican culture, Costa Rican identity,
—This is what it means to live—
not for me but for one another.
What I remember of the paintings
is what mattered once
when someone somewhere paused
realizing, This matters:
a woman nursing her child,
an unpainted oxcart on a dirt road,
the Self in repose—
a full plate of everyday food.