The editor-in-chief of Leonardo, the second best visual art journal according to Google h5 index, agreed to create a special section named “Art and Cancer” on my request. I paid off by serving as the section editor and creating an editorial advisory board inspiring and enlisting a senior editor from prestigious Science magazine. In April of this year, Leonardo published their top 2 articles on art and cancer and I wrote the very first editorial of my life!
I am back after more than two years. I believe I do not have a lot of followers. So I don’t feel guilty. Trust me, last two years have been tough. I dealt with a lot of psychological issues circling around decision making about life. My New York dream could have become a reality on a very steep price through various avenues. But, I chose to remain as a tortured artist (and a scientist) in Southern United States and fantasize about living in New York City, specifically in SoHo. I knew New York City is the source of my creativity. The urge of placing my foot in that city for 3-5 days a year keeps me creative for the rest of the 360 days each year. I knew if I actually ended up living there, I probably would have quit creating. To pay for the sky-high rent, I would have forced myself into finance and management. The artist in me would have died and rotted without being able to express freely. So I decided to stay. Even though all SIX of my senses were complaining about the lifestyle and culture down here.
As a big compensation I curated and participated in a cancer based art show bringing in 6 artists and cancer researchers in one of the top 5 galleries in the Design District of Dallas and installed 35 pieces of artworks worth $1.5 million. My cancer researcher boss kindly served as one of the four panelists along with visionaries and famous scholars from the field of astrophysics, art therapy, business and spirituality. More importantly, my scientist boss’ artist sister flew in from San Diego to watch this show. The evening I moderated this panel discussion, I received the best reward of my life. Both my lung cancer and art mentors exclaimed in union to 140 audience members (and to my embarrassment) “I wish all my students were like Dhru!” That was just the beginning.
But, back in my mind, somewhere was that screaming artist soul that wanted to live in New York City at any cost. One opportunity came up as I was sitting beside the president of consulting club in a departmental seminar. I didn’t know anything about management consulting except from the fact that it might provide the ways and means for me to live in New York. The president is a very kind human being and irrespective of my lack of experience in consulting agreed to become my study partner for interviews in the biggest consulting firms. For the next 10 months, I worked my ass off to practice case studies with several consulting club members and real life consultants, networked with more than 100 consultants in 25 firms in 5 different countries and lost 35 lbs of weight to look presentable and confident. Even I started to believe I wanted to be a consultant.
Guess what? I didn’t make it. I kept lying to myself – “It doesn’t matter if you are a management consultant. You can still be an artist even though you work on business stuff 80 hours a week!” And there was the other voice – “Really???” I think the very intelligent and experienced consultants who interviewed me saw through me clearly, noticed my dilemma and they knew I was not ready.
But there was a plus point from all this pain. You know how consultants are really good at breaking down a problem and solving it creatively? I got good at that too through all these hardcore preparations. I started to think about what is it about New York City that I like? And then it occurred to me slowly. I like the creative culture. I like the young people wearing black clothes and walking fast down the streets. I like the dynamic, ever-changing and sometime fleeting aspects of life, a sense of un-satisfaction and practically the ability to walk anywhere I wanted. The uncertainty of life at every aspect of every day and being able to make peace with it.