Swing Top Third Question: What is the right action?

The Swings swing. Three diaphanous layers create a kaleidoscope of colourful veils to spin around your silhouette. The front two layers of the swing are shorter than the back; the first providing a window into the second. Together, they create a visual conversation as they swing at different rhythms. The back is a single layer, longer than the front and translucent, revealing the curve of your back in silhouette. You are the 3rd layer, the center of the universe.

The answer to the Third Question is revealed under the first layer amid a portion of a Leonardo da Vinci drawn skeleton, representing yet another layer beneath where we are all the same: The right action is to serve the one you are with.

The story of the Three Questions comes in layers too, ultimately revealing a truth about a way to live. It is a short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1885 as part of a collection of short stories titled “What Men Live By, and other Tales”. The story takes the form of a parable, and it concerns a king who wants to find the answers to what he considers the three most important questions in life:

When is the right time?
Who is the right person?
What is the right action to take?

Unable to find resolution within his kingdom, he embarks on a journey to find the answers from a wise man in the mountains. On his journey he overcomes 3 trials. The wise man reveals to him that the action he took to overcome each trial provides the answer to his three questions.

I asked my Mother’s sister, Aunt Pat, to write out the Three Questions and their answers. She kindly obliged. I made silk screens of them , hiding the answer under the first layer of the Swing Top, paying homage to the trial the King faced as a veil to the answer he sought. The King knew the answers to his questions before he left on his journey but he needed the wise man to lift the veil in order to see them.

The colour ‘rose’ is used to answer question three. The colour signifies respect, love, harmony. I played with changing the verb “serve” in the translation because ‘to serve’ has heavy connotations for me as a woman bred to please others before myself. However, I have decided to leave the original verb just as I accept Tolstoy’s book title “What MEN Live By and Other Tales” (my capitals/bold). I choose to see the action of ‘service’ as being attentive to the needs of others as well as oneself. The act of ‘giving’ need not be performed to the detriment of one’s own survival nor should it be bound by a caste system beyond one’s freedom.

‘The right action is to serve the one you are with’ is a choice made freely, with love.

In the story, the protagonist is a King. He can do whatever he wants when he wants; he has inherent dominance. He is the perfect person to illustrate the quest of the Three Questions because within his unencumbered freedom of choice, he CHOOSES to to act in service of others.
May we all be free enough within the confines of our own beliefs and/or those of our society to CHOOSE to serve the one we are with.

The skeleton was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. It is the structure where we hominids are virtually the same; of the same elements and needing the same elements and returning to the same elements. We are one.

Wash and wear and wear and wear.