A Photograph, a Moment, a Mystery…

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Visual art is a mysterious gift. This morning I was looking around the “man-cave” (otherwise known as the room my mother avoids at all costs), and one of the pictures on the wall caught my attention. It is a photograph of my older brother when he was maybe two years old, sitting in a highchair with two pieces of cinnamon raison toast, rather daintily held in his hands. What makes this photo genius is the expression on his face as he looks at someone or something entertaining him in the room. The photo is just of him, so there is no way of knowing what sparked the childish joy on his face. However, his lips are pulled together in an amused smirk, and his eyelids are scrunched in the natural way they react to his smile. He is clearly trying to suppress full on laughter, which he is most definitely on the verge of releasing. His face is turned to the right of the cameraman (my father), giving the viewer a feeling of uninhibited reality. He was not posing for a picture; he was enjoying the moment without knowledge or care of who was watching him.

When I look at this photograph of my brother I feel as though I could walk right into that very moment. Though I was not around when this photo was taken, I find myself able to react to it as if I had been a part of the experience myself. There is little to distract me from my brother’s perspective of the moment, because his highchair is made out of plain brown wood, and the wall behind him is white. The intimacy of the moment is inviting to me as I feel it would be to anyone, because there is a warmth and simplistic nature easily understood as the happiness of youth. My eyes linger on this photo each time I view it because along with the simple warmth of my brother’s expression, is an aspect of mystery. I will always wonder at what I cannot see in this photo. The mystery of the unknown gives the photo a depth that is invisible to the careless observer, but striking to anyone who ventures even a moment’s consideration of the aberration it elicits.

While I love to look at photographs from my past, none have struck me in the way that this image of my brother does every time. To be able to connect with a moment in someone else’s life from just one image of them is incredible, and seldom possible. So many truths are expressed in this one photo, that I feel no written description could do it justice. I realize now that I am extremely lucky to understand the value of this singular photograph, when so many unimportant images flash before my eyes each day. Writing is my tool for understanding the feelings I get from simple everyday experiences. I find now that it has the power to give luster and meaning to what would otherwise remain blurred by the myriad of unimportant images begging to steal my attention.

If you have ever encountered a photograph or painting that has made a powerful impression on you, please tell me about it in the comments section below. (=

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Good friendships are made to change…

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Relationships of all kinds are difficult, but I believe long-lasting friendships can be incredibly hard to maintain at a young age. I just graduated from college and my brother pointed out to me that many of the friends I made there will slip away over time. I didn’t want to agree with this, but in reality I know it’s inevitable. There are so many reasons why even close friendships fizzle out, but change, one of the most obvious reasons is often overlooked or underappreciated for the role it plays. My family expects change from me because it is all I have done since the day I was born. I have grown up before their eyes, and they have tried to influence me toward making the right decisions in life. Though I may not have turned out the way they anticipated, I still have many things to learn and a lifelong journey of transformations to go through. Very few people have friends who they have known from birth. Instead we meet the majority of our friends as we go through different shared life experiences together, like starting a new job or moving into college dorms. Friends meet at varying times in life and therefore different stages of their own identity. I think the main problem with failed friendships or relationships of any kind, is the basis for which that relationship was formed. It seems to me that too many friendships are made based upon surface level identity, when really we should be getting to know these “close” friends on a deeper level. Since people are bound to change over time, maybe we should be looking at the core of our friends rather than who they are in one moment of their life. The core of a person, being the things that have made them who they are in the present moment as well as who they were in the past. I’m not saying we should give all our friends the third degree, but before we label a person our best friend we should love them for the reasons they change.

Free from the Illusion of Reality

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I recently completed my English thesis on the play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” by Edward Albee. This play which was adapted into a film version starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, is a wonderful plaything for the mind. Whether you are watching the movie or reading the play, there are an endless number of questions that strike you to the core. That is because this play questions the very framework that reality is formed upon. Albee tells the story of a disenchanted couple, Martha and George, who spend an entire night ripping each other apart in front of their guests Nick and Honey. In my paper I spent page after page analyzing the art with which these two main characters were able to break down the comforting cushion of reality in their everyday lives.

Martha and George, constantly straddle the invisible line dividing reality and illusion, until even their guests cannot separate the two. They are powerful characters because they realize that language is a tool used to convey meaning, and not meaning itself. Words are never exact in their definition, because they signify different meanings depending on who is hearing or speaking them. The person speaking regulates tone, truthfulness, and the amount information provided. The person listening interprets based off their knowledge of both the speaker, and subject matter. Martha and George believe that the human mind is too complex to be faithfully conveyed in language, and this understanding puts them in a world of chaos. Throughout the evening they manipulate language based on their knowledge of its gaps and with a complete disregard for the rules that sustain it. They expose truths in their illusions, and prove the gaps within Nick and Honey’s statements to be lies. By exposing the flaws in societies’ most utilized method of communication, they are illuminating the large degree of illusion present in everyday speech.

Even though my thesis work is all done I find myself coming back to the ideas this play evoked in me over and over again. If language is our main outlet for defining the world around us, the truth of the world will always be lacking in some way. The concept that reality is manmade presents a strange new way of looking at things. George and Martha are a dangerous mixture with their shared knowledge of reality’s holes. They have realized that control over their own reality is within their grasp and therefore have conjured up the illusion of a son who never existed in flesh and blood. In a sense they have become their own God, creating a child from nothing and then killing him in the very dramatic final scene.

My advice to anyone who reads this post is to pick up a copy of this play immediately. It will definitely give you something to think about. For anyone who knows this play or just has some thoughts about reality and illusion, please leave comments below.(=

Magic

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Magic is real! It is every unique memory, thought, and experience shared between yourself and a loved one. You are unaware for a while of its affect on you, but eventually you have knots in your throat leading down to a heart you never realized was so powerful. This bond is rare and it can be turned against you just as rapidly as it formed. It’s beautiful because there is no stronger bond, but dangerous for the very same reason. It gives you a reason for life, and sometimes seems to take it away. Everyone’s magic is different but mine came from the creativity and love of my mother.

Its springtime and I’m very young sitting on my living room couch. The doorbell rings and mom tells me I should answer it. When I open the door no one is there. However, I push open the screen door to check for a package and instead I find something infinitely better. There hiding behind the door is a medium sized surprise! A troll with its beady little eyes calling to my greedy little heart. This event seeps into the very pores of my skin and I feel loved. Even at that young age this present meant much more to me than any other. It was the experience more than the object which connected with my heart, and that is why I can still remember that day long after the troll itself was gone.

It’s winter and I haven’t been feeling very well so I come downstairs for some lunch and my mom has prepared my favorite, tomato soup and crackers. She also hands me a movie called The Secret Garden and together we snuggle up with some soup and watch the movie as the snow falls quietly outside. On that day it could have just been us two in the whole world because that’s how close I felt to her, and how much her love thrilled and encompassed me.

These are just two of the many childhood memories I will never forget. Though they may seem simple and unworthy of such praise, to me each day spent with my mother had the power to be as special as the rarest diamond. I loved the way she called me jewels and tickled me whenever I passed her, or standing on a stool next to her as we brushed our hair together. I love all the smiles she has ever given me, even if they are somewhat harder to illicit nowadays. I never feel the need to keep things from her, and there truly isn’t a thing I wouldn’t tell her because I know she will always love me. As I’ve grown older and life has become more complicated I realize more and more how hard it would be without her. Though I’ve met some truly amazing people and more are sure to come, I have yet to encounter anyone who is better to talk to than my mom. She knows all the good and bad in me, and I know the same in her. Now is my chance to create some magic for her and I hope this blog does just that.

If you have someone in your life who creates magic for you please share your story in the comments section!(=