Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For seeing beauty

Last night I was stuck in traffic. It takes me between 10 and 15 minutes to get from downtown back to our house on the east end. Today, it took 45 minutes. I happened to be there for a rehearsal; I don't usually drive downtown during the late afternoon because, well, that's a horrible idea. If I worked downtown, I'd take the bus. Probably the busway, because that's a really fast way to get to the east end, if I could find someone to pick me up at the busway stop. At least then I'd get to play games or listen to music (which I can do while driving) or just chill out.

I was driving along a road that is up the hill from the river, on the south end of the "main land" of the city, if that makes sense. Slowly. Rain was coming down at a medium tempo, but the early dusk exacerbated its effects on driving conditions. As I came around a curve, I saw the bridge that one normally takes to get to the older business and entertainment area of the South Side (as opposed to the newer area a few blocks away). There were brake lights as far as the eye could see, wending their way through the various parts of the view. Clearly, everyone was looking to travel in the same direction. The view of that bridge, the city lights--with some holiday lights already in place--and even the serpentine picture of brake lights was actually quite picturesque and beautiful. Were I not driving, I'd have taken a picture and framed it.

For yesterday I am thankful that, even though I was sitting in lousy rush hour traffic, I still had the appreciation for beauty, in an unexpected situation. I'm just now remembering a set of photographs taken of The Boy in the hospital in New Jersey. He was thin, bald of course, but in a not-too-bad state overall. He had a little color to his face and even a little pinch to his cheeks. The photos were taken by a volunteer from Chai Lifeline who came to visit him and play with him and occasionally give us a little break. She was an amateur photographer. The pictures, as I remember them, were one of him asleep, one of him just looking at something and smiling, and then one of him playing a set of finger cymbals with glee. People generally don't tell you that a sickly looking cancer patient is beautiful, but these pictures really were. Even more so than many of the ones that we had of him, even when he was doing a little better. She just captured him perfectly and used the equipment at her disposal for really fantastic results.

Having been around a lot of visual artists, the ability to see the artistic opportunity in situations is something that I picked up. My mother was actually an art history minor in college, which I didn't know until a few years ago, although it makes sense. Despite her lack of spatial relationships to the point where if they had an IEP for it, she'd have had one, she was really good at talking about art and talking about painting and drawing. And now she has a love for cute crafts. She taught me a lot about how to draw faces properly. And, of course, I think that my children are beautiful.

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