As a present this year, my wife sent me to a meditation retreat. In a stairwell of the Zen center, three pears sat rotting on a plate. They had only just begun to age. Their skin looked like paper. It reminded me of a poem by David Ignato: I wish I knew the beauty of leaves falling. To whom are we beautiful as we go.
The challenge of these pears (and other more ghastly reminders in Buddhist temples) is to recognize our own mortality, to appreciate the changes in our selves, and, in doing so, to treasure each passing moment.
I was moved enough by that plate of fruit that I set up my own and drew it. It is the first still-life that I have drawn since college, and the one that makes me think the most.