What I see doesn’t matter much.
The fact that I talk about it does.
How does that make sense? Let me share a little of my journey.
I’ve been writing and taking pictures for a long time now. And I have been painting for several years. Whenever I create something, I have an emotion, a feeling, a thought that is filling my head and I use words and images to help me get them out, mostly because I kinda suck at just plain talking about things.
So I break the thought or the emotion loose with my creative work, and that makes it easier for me to keep thinking and talking about it. Yeah, my work is so psychotherapy. Never doubt it.
For years I have been posting poetry and publishing books. Three books so far, and another coming out soon. I’ve probably posted a few thousand poems here on the blog. And I have been continually amazed as how other people interpret my verse. I pinch myself sometimes and wonder “Was I really saying that in some strange twilight zone subconscious way?” Or I ask myself “How in the hell did they get THAT?”.
It’s because we all read our lives and our situations and our histories into what we see.
The picture above is of a Jackson Pollock painting that hangs in MOMA (The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.). I never “got” Pollock. I’ve seen his work in books for ages and to me, it looked like my drop cloths after I’ve painted a room (I am a messy painter.). But the first time I saw this painting in person, it blew me away. It struck me. I felt power and energy and something amazing. I sat there on the floor in front of it for probably a half hour, just taking it in.
Whatever I thought though, was probably “wrong”. I am absolutely sure he had something else in mind.
I think that because as I sat there, dozens of people stopped at the painting and I overheard dozens of explanations of what it was about. All different and none of them my own interpretation.
And I think that because of my own experience with art, because of something that happened to me the first year I began painting.
I took painting classed under Ruth Sauer, in her gallery on North Main in Salem, NY. Once a week I’d wonder in and paint the morning away. When I paint, I always have a practice sheet off to the side where I try out new brush strokes or test colors before I actually paint. At the end of a session, I’ve pretty much covered two or three practice sheets getting to a single painting.
One day I am in the Gallery with Ruth, and a couple comes in to look at the art hanging on the walls and they stop at my table in the back where I am happily painting away. They stop and begin talking about how much they like the painting, and proceed to expound on all they saw there. As a newbie with no confidence (but a lot of joy) in my painting, it was a glorious thing to hear.
Then out of the blue they offer me $100……. for my practice sheet.
Hey, I took the money. I have no pride.
And that’s when I learned. It’s not important what exactly I do. Oh, I try to do good work. I practice my craft. On my poems, I often offer an explanation. But the truth is that my wonderful readers and viewers have got something else going on. You’re going to make of anything I do what your mind and heart sees.
That’s just how it works.
So what if I meant something else? Really, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that I put something down, with a reasonable modicum of skill, and by putting out there, you got something important to you out of it.
There’s joy in that. At least for me.
And a bit of humor too, truth be told. I still do a lot of “How did they get THAT?” questioning. But it’s less a critique as a wondering about your story, what led you there? And a wonder that I can be part of your story, even when I have no idea what I am talking about.
Kinda cool, huh?
So you just keep doing what YOU do. And we’ll all touch people. And in the end, it’s the connection, not the intended message, that’s important. Really important.
Be well. Travel wisely,