our paths crossing

and now the two of us are crossing paths - as strangers, acquaintances, friends, lovers - whatever we are to each other, independent of name or form - and who knows, when our paths might cross again? life is mysterious like that.


Guide to reading this series

  • Each piece is a story that describes a relationship between two people — any two people — at any given point in time.

  • The scale of time it captures is flexible. Each piece can represent one day, or one decade. You can zoom in or zoom out. Think of it as a modular series. Two pieces can connect to form a longer story, a longer period of time.

  • At any given point, you can’t know exactly where you are in the relationship. You can’t tell a story about the future (or even about the present), only about the past.

  • Each piece can describe your relationship to infinite number of people, in infinite number of ways. When you look at the image, you are the storyteller.

The story & inspiration

I was inspired to make this series after sitting with a new friend in Bryant Park one day, in August, having a very exciting conversation about the nature of time. Time is fluid, the future is always now, and there is no time, he said. I am already at home. We are already meeting each other in the future.

I remember him looking at me and drawing with two fingers on the black metal table - me and him, crossing paths at this moment, this single point in time. I had only met him once before, at a tango marathon in France. He was saying how easily I could’ve said no to having coffee with him, but I said yes, and now here we are.

It was related to our conversation about goodbyes. He told me he doesn’t say long, drawn-out goodbyes for this very reason. You know the feeling of being on a train pulling away, and seeing your loved one become smaller and smaller, in the distance? Your last memory of them is of this very long goodbye. It’s too much suffering. Why do we put ourselves through this emotional drama?

What is the alternative, then, I asked. To just disappear?

It’s not disappearing, he said. It’s see you later. A quick hug and kiss on the cheek. As in, I will see you again, I don’t know when, but when I do it will be like no time has passed.

I can’t tell you what a deep impact that conversation had on me - and is still having on me. I was used to narratives of linearity and loss. Intimacy always threatened by the fear of losing, of leaving — one’s homeland, one’s loved ones. I was raised to see the future as something I had to steel myself for, and undoubtedly, it would be a future laced with loss — because alas, that’s how life is.

What would it feel like to adopt this fluid notion of relationships, and of time? To accept however it is that our paths are crossing, in whatever shape or nature or form, and not try to predict whether it is the beginning, middle, or end of a relationship. To give up all attempts at forecasting. To live fully in the present with our relationships, to see each present moment as all there is, and at the same time, part of a greater, unknowable whole. There is only possibility and wonder. There is mystery and grace.

thank you for visiting. I’m an artist and writer currently based in New York. I make things to make meaning from my life. you can sign up for my newsletter below for updates on my work, and notes about my inspirations.

ArtKening Zhu