That quote, in all its incarnations, has been attributed to artists, writers, poets, philosophers, actors.

Like this Ficus microcarpa, the quote comes in many varieties. This tre was once called “nitida”. Kinda like a tiger bark but without the bark.

Get out the saw, add a little wire. Do you know what the purpose of wire is? It’s two-fold. The first is obvious, to hold the branch while we bend it. The second is to protect the branch from breaking, as we bend it. Kinda like when we are under stress, sometimes a blanket or a hug takes the stress off of us and makes the change easier.


……it can only protect where it touches. Let your friends into your life.

….that’s what life is, spending moments and remembering those moments when, perhaps a shared joke, or a drink, or meal, make the loneliness that is the true reality of man, go away for a little while. And it’s those moments one should cherish.

Brazilian raintrees were brought into this country (the USA) by a man named Jim Moody. I never met him, I don’t believe, but I was good friends with his grandson, Allen Carver. He left us recently. I never got to say goodbye. But every time I work on a Raintree, I think of him.


This one came from Jim, to Michael Cartrett, to Javier Cortez, it was an air layer off a big tree that grew in Mike’s yard. And it went to another friend who went his own way, Jose Perez. He had to sell it after a divorce, and now it’s Doug’s. I get to work on it from time to time.

The story of trees are often as compelling as the trees themselves.

I’m glad I get a part in the story. A small part.

Tuning a guitar. Trying to get the spaces between the strings just right. So that the song sounds good. That’s Jack, a good friend I don’t get to spend too much time with.

Life is not the counting of numbers, it’s the space between those numbers.

How much can you fit into an hour, a minute, a second? How much should you? Can the appreciation on that infinitely divisible moment of time between the seconds in your life be enough, or do you need to fill up those moments with importance?

How many beats per minute does your heart count? Are we promised only so many beats per lifetime? Is it written in our genetic code? Or do we just time of the calculation and stop counting? How many leaves on this buttonwood? Does it matter?

It’s like the space between the branches. The air around the tree. This gives meaning to the tree.

And some things you just gotta see in person. Go to a bonsai exhibit, or all you’re seeing is the blast of pixels in an image against your retina. We “see” with all our senses.

The best story will never be written because it’s your story and you’re making it up as you go along with your life.

The story has truth and lies. And even the most honest of us have all these things we tell ourselves to help us get through the day. But we believe them.

Kurt Vonnegut said “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” in the novel Mother Night, in 1962. Harsh and cruel. You should read it.

Another buttonwood. Let’s help it along. It needs stress and pressure to forge it into what it wants to be.

It needs that blanket so the branches don’t snap and break, as we bend it. This time there’s wire and a secondary wrapping of self amalgamating, rubber, electrical wrap.

How about this pot? Made by an auto mechanic that builds transmissions. Lynn Baker, goes by the name Herr Lynn. A local potter from the west coast of Florida.

I think it adds to the story.

But the story is false. This buttonwood may have started out on a beach in Florida, but it’s nature wants it to grow straight. Like the branches in the first pic

That’s why it’s species as designated as “erectus”. Like the hominid Homo erectus, an ape that walks upright, Conocarpus erectus will grow straight, but if it’s in the environment like the southern Florida coast, with the hurricanes, the sun, the surf, alligators and crocodiles, and the land developers and tourists, all causing stress and beating down and torturing the tree, it will be transformed into the twisted trees we so love.

We have to tell a story, a true one, but not true in this case, of all the struggles a buttonwood can go through and live.

To get back to our initial pondering in the title of this article, it was Picasso who was first quoted saying that art is a lie, in 1923. Here’s the full quote, translated from Spanish:

“We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies. If he only shows in his work that he has searched, and re-searched, for the way to put over his lies, he would never accomplish any thing.”

6 thoughts

  1. Thank you. Deep and thoughtful, but I can agree with Picasso’s sentiments. Where would we be without artists? It would be a sad old world. Stay safe and best wishes. Chris, Old Bar NSW Australia.


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