How life presented itself forty-five years ago
I fell in love with Felipe the moment he walked into the lobby of my hotel in Mexico City. It felt as though we had known each other all our lives, even though I had just met him for the first time. It was love at first sight.
But where did that feeling come from? I could say it was his kind smile. Or the hormones that were triggered when I saw him. But was my response shaped by something I had experienced an hour before, a day before, a decade earlier? Does that influence go even further back, through previous generations to some imprint left on my DNA?
Or were there more prosaic influences like the temperature of the hotel lobby, the way the light fell, the romantic bolero music that a live trio played?
Perhaps it was a combination of all this. A combination of very different ingredients made Felipe fall in love with me at the same moment.
That we met at all was sheer coincidence. If Felipe had just dropped off his friend to visit me as he had originally planned—rather than accompanying him into the lobby—both our lives would have been radically different.
That small coincidence affected not just our lives but that of many other people. Shortly after Felipe and I met, a friend came to visit me in Mexico and ended up marrying a Mexican woman with whom he had two daughters. If Felipe had not walked into that hotel lobby, I would not have ended up in Barcelona and I would not have met the people that introduced me to the world of contemporary art. There would not have been a foundation and I would not have collaborated with so many artists around the world.
Of course, there would have been another life with other people and other places. I might have been a correspondent for a newspaper in Hong Kong, a talk-show host in San Francisco or an antiques dealer in Brussels. I might have become a dog breeder in France.
When I think of all the paths not chosen, my head begins to spin. But above all it makes me realise that the influence we exert on our lives is much more limited than we’d like to believe. There’s a natural unfolding of life that’s beyond our control. Perhaps our part in it is to find a way to participate in life, however it presents itself to us.
And life certainly presented itself in a marvellous fashion that evening in Mexico City, forty-five years ago!