“WOW that’s bright!” I said as I squinted to shield my eyes from the light.
“O, heh, sorry. I just put in new bulbs. Don’t worry, they dim.”
He turned them down a bit. We had just been enjoying a relaxing chat by his fireplace, sipping fresh brewed coffee and musing about the simplest and sweetest things that had happened today, when he asked if I would like to see his art gallery again. “Sure!” I replied.
I loved coming in here. It was warm and comfortable with a slight breeze blowing in from who knows where. It always felt like time stood still, as if I had been lifted amongst the clouds and the only thing demanding my attention was the beautiful painting in front of me. It was true bliss.
“Here check out this one” he eagerly motioned me over to a frame. “Wow…” That always seemed to be the word that came out of my mouth but heaven knows the traffic of thoughts racing through my mind. Each and every one of them took my breath away. “Hey here’s Saturn!” I shouted his way, “Gosh, I love Saturn.”
“Mmm, me too. The rings always remind me of a wedding.”
“Right? Is that what you wanted us to think about?”
“I guess that was part of it. I also wanted you to think about me. See that big ball in the middle of the rings, if you look close enough you can see my face.”
He looked my way with a smug grin on his face. “Riiiiiight.” I grinned back. We both laughed but as we moved on I swear I saw his eye wink at me from within that celestial ball.
“Ohhh this one’s just too good.” I said as I stared at a painting of our family on a camping trip.
“I love this one too. Lots of good talks with you around that fire.”
“Yeah…” I paused, looking through my young pupils into a confused and cloudy mind. “Hey, thanks for the talks, those were some rough years.”
“I know…” is all that he said. That’s all he had to say. I could tell that he knew every ounce of pain I went through just by the way he painted my face. I stared long into my young eyes. “It’s amazing to think of all the mess you went through”, I thought somberly, and yet I can stare at those tired eyes and smile.
Yeah, he knows.
We were almost to the end of the gallery when he stopped and with intent eyes muttered, “This one is my favorite.” I slowly walked closer trying to make out what it was.
“What? Really? I mean I appreciate that it’s of me but it’s kind of bland.”
“Wow, you are so right.”
“No I mean it looks like someone ruined it. Wait, what’s this?”
“Can’t you smell that? It smells like coffee! Why does my painting smell like coffee?
“Gosh I have no idea.” I was still annoyed that he made my portrait so boring.
“Waiiiit. Gosh, you spit all over this thing!”
“What? Why would I do that?”
“I don’t know, you tell me! Here, let me see if I can fix it.”
He breathed on the painting and with the sleeve of his red flannel shirt gently wiped away the smudges. Slowly, very slowly he worked his way around the entire painting until it was perfect. This was taking a while so I preoccupied myself with the other paintings in the gallery until he hollered for me to come over again. “There we go, just like I remember it!” he said. I walked briskly over and when I looked at the painting again I just stood there, confused.
“I don’t get it.”
“What don’t you get?”
“It…it…it just looks so…so not boring.”
“Ok now I’m offended that you would think I painted something so boring. Do we have to go look at Saturn again?”
“No, no. It’s just when I look at Saturn and the oceans and a good sunset it’s hard to put myself in that same category, ya know? I guess it’s easier to see your creative genius in that than looking in the mirror.”
“Hmm.” He paused. “Well, those are just paintings. They hang on the wall and they’re fun to look at but at the end of the day they’re still just paintings. They don’t talk with me or laugh with me or spit coffee on my other paintings. But you, you can do that. All because you are an artist like me, wielding life and imagination as your brush and colors!
So while it’s fun to come in here with you and marvel at all the things I’ve painted, I want to see what you can create. It would be kinda sad if we just sat here, looked at the paintings, and did nothing about it. I mean, when you see the warm blue waters of the ocean you want to swim in it. When you smell the intoxicating aroma of a cinnamon roll you want to eat it. When you come across a girl with such deep and genuine beauty you want to pursue her. There is this drive inside of you not only to observe beauty but to do something about it, to engage with it and create some of your own.
You see, I’ve had this crazy idea of what you might create and I can’t wait for you to realize the incredible and complex colors you’re made of. They are in no way boring or ordinary; they are deep and intimate and handpicked. The paintings around you might be great but you have the potential to be a living masterpiece.
The choice is yours: create or dissipate.”