It seems strange that I know when it is snowing in Denver. It’s like knowing the name of someone’s pet hamster in New Zealand or how many frogs could fit in a large cereal bowl. It is fairly useless information. It used to be my every day information. Now the information serves as a reminder of where I was. It brings back fond memories, but mostly it just loops back around to how impossible it seems to make new friends as an adult.
I read somewhere that people shown a video of basic shapes moving around on a screen will invent stories about the shapes to describe their movements. The shapes in the video take on gender roles with elaborate narratives to the viewer. We can’t even look at a triangle without flinging our own perceptions and lives onto the thing. We feed relevance into two dimensional objects.
I think that this might be where the usefulness of art is hidden. In the act of forging a story to describe an image we work out actual real life solutions without feeling all of the fear and anxiety that we trundle around with us. A decision about why an image looks a certain way can change the way we process personal stories. A image is a seemingly benign thing to project meaning onto.
In several instances I’ve had people describe the intentions of my art back to me, which would make complete sense if the images were representational, but these are completely abstract pieces. The more wonderful aspect is that their outside perspective often adds to the depth of the work as though they are speaking something into life just by offering an idea. The viewer renews the way that I see the work through a willingness to share.
I suppose like everything else there are healthy and unhealthy drives behind the need to create stories with random information. My primary problem is that my former story is making it hard for me to be alive in a newer story. I don’t want to tell new people about how I felt when my grandmother passed away again. I liked not having to repeatedly delve into the experience. However, a willingness to bring substantial life experience to a table allows for others to feel the permission to do the same. To tell an honest story is to grant permission to other honest stories which might give depth to your own.
The experience lends credibility to:
Freely you have received freely give. – Matthew 10:8
Jesus has a tendency of saying things that sound amazing until you try to put them ground and drive them in real life. Then the ideas become simultaneously amazing and a terrible pain in the ass. What have I received? to what extent have I received? Maybe the front end of the statement is the key to the latter half? To the extent that I believe that I have been given anything is the extent to which I will want to share with others. In the midst of struggle it is easier to see the lack more clearly than the abundance. I can tell you the weather in Denver, but showing up in Salem to strangers is difficult
Here and now is the only place where I come into contact with reality. Where I was is a very real part of me, the people that I have loved, the late summer afternoons over beer, these all exist and they matter but they are not here and they are not now.
To freely give is a permission, but it isn’t always a comfortable sort of permission and it’s not always the permission that I want. If I cannot clearly see all that I have been given, I’m probably going to suck at giving much of anything back.