Wednesday, June 27, 2012

expression and response...

Some people paint, some play music, and others dance or sculpt or graffiti in order to express their inner beings and emotions.  It's how folks get what is deep inside their beings out into the world. It's an expression of emotion that comes from a place that can't just be revealed in ordinary life or conversation.  I don't know why some people need to create art in some form to express themselves better than they can just by talking, but they do. And I believe the world is a better place because of it.

When someone paints a painting and another sees it, the seer is getting a glimpse deep inside the painter.  He or she may or may not understand that at the time, but it's still true.  The seer will respond to the painting in some way...maybe with joy, maybe with disgust...there's no way to know how the emotional expression of the painter will be perceived by another.  Every seer will respond uniquely...that is the beauty of affects each participant in a different, personal way.  

The painter, however, is not responsible for the response of the seer of the painting.  The painter's responsibility is to the genuine expression that is the painting.  Once it is "out there" the responders are on their own.  They take from the painting what they will.  They can love it or hate it, but that is no reflection on the painter or the expression.  In many cases, the more genuine and deep the expression, the more controversial the responses.  Folks really don't like being confronted with deep emotional expression, particularly when it causes them to face their own emotional issues.  Most of us are not at all comfortable with that.  When we are uncomfortable with someone else's expression of emotional angst, we tend to get critical...and defensive...and mean.

And then, if we are really uncomfortable with another's expression, we try to shut it down.  By doing that, we assure that our perception is the only acceptable perception and others who may feel differently about it don't get a chance to experience it themselves.  When we shut down the genuine expression of another, we ease our own discomfort at the expense of someone else's opportunity to respond.  Perhaps the painting would reveal truth to another, or connect with someone on a deep, emotional level...but when those who cannot abide the discomfort of their own fears and insecurities shut down the expression of the painter, those opportunities are lost.  And I believe the world is a worse place for it.

Painters don't paint to please others, they paint to express their pain, joy, grief, etc.  Painters live in the world of images, colors, light, shadow...their deepest emotional experiences are expressed in images.

I don't paint...or sculpt or play music.  I write.  Writers write what is deep within them and it is an expression of the writer's emotional experience.  Painters live in the world of images; writers live in the world of language. Some don't like what is written...others do.  Just like the painter, the writer is  responsible for the genuineness of the expression. How the seer responds is his/her responsibility.  I believe there is great value in genuine expression mostly because there is so little of it in our world of "fit in at all costs," and "don't rock the boat."  Growth happens in rocked boats....and most of the change (for better or worse) in the world has been brought about by those who do not fit in.

If each of us is created in the image of God then each of our genuine expressions of self come from a place of God's creation.  To shut down the expression, whether artistic, political, or just plain emotional, of another is to potentially shut down the Spirit of the living God within both the one expressing and the one receiving the expression.  The experience of the presence of God can be uncomfortable and can cause us to want to shut it out but, I believe, if we can coax ourselves to see and to live with the discomfort for a short while, we will see the beauty that is intended.

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