I love art galleries. Standing in a space with complete strangers staring at another's insides splattered on canvas for all to see, judge and interpret. Sometimes the space that holds the collections are as impressive as what's housed inside. What a piece evokes, differs, but there are some pieces that elicit a common enough response that we all agree upon its rarity. It informs, it stills and it uplifts us in a way we cannot describe, but know we have experienced. The visual moves us internally and viscerally.
When I was a young girl in Africa, my father taught me to look at the world differently. He made me hold an apple and asked me to describe it. My first offense was to call it round. He said, "Look again." And made me see that round as a description was lazy. The apple was almost even on the top and the bottom. I then had to describe the color -- it was not just green, but a particular kind of green. What did it bring to mind? It was shiny-bright, not grass green, not emerald green -- how else to describe it but -- Granny Smith green, softly flushed with a burnt amber, like blush on a woman's cheeks. That satisfied him. He taught me to look at the world as not a blur to the destination, but as art in my journey. It was his most special gift to me.
There are days when I'm exhausted and the world has gathered its forces to thwart me. When all of my focus has to be reigned in to get through the moment. When I look up and see a frown etched on my expression, my shoulders bowed with stress. We all have those days. Then, while stopped at a traffic light, the view my eyes see interrupt my worry, impinge on my consciousness, force me to see my world, and it lifts me. It takes my concerns and pushes it aside and says: See the gift before you. Drink in its beauty. Wallow in the colors. Keen at the splendor.
It's in the leaves scattered in a car park. It's in the boughs laden with blossoms on a street. It's in the sunsets and sunrises. The clouds painted in ever-changing art in the sky. In our mad rush of life, art is not just something to visit in a gallery. Those depictions are of life, caught in its purity, buried in our souls, that we take for granted, and when faced with it likeness on a wall, the recognition awakes a recollection of when we saw the world that way.
Through the eons nature has made us smile. From the first cave paintings, people have tried to capture the wonder they see. We document the moment on our phones. We hang the likeness on our walls. Collectors pay a lot to possess the creations. And yes, people line up to see the visuals in galleries. It's universal.
But I'd like to suggest, that while all that we see contained, framed, protected, preserved, as homaged creations, their inspirations may as easily be experienced in our daily lives. All that is required is the willingness to see. To let our mood be altered by the wind in the trees, petals carpeting asphalt, the determination of a plant to push through a crevice in a sidewalk. If we look to nature as art to grow our smiles, maybe we'll be more tolerant of the infractions of man bowed in his quest to achieve and hoard more. Maybe it will manifest in letting someone in on the freeway. Of smiling when caught in the checkout stand and the person in front of you makes everyone wait while they search for the item they forgot. Maybe if we balance our stress with the beauty around us, it will spill out in our interactions, grant grace to ourselves and to others, and make the world a better place. Maybe. Let's try. See beauty. Let it fill you. Live it. Now.
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