A friend posted a photo on Facebook the other day of one of those cool city fresco paintings; you know the ones -- they are those unexpected art bombs on the sides of buildings that range from small, surprising paintings that incorporate some existing architecture into them, or larger, wall-sized, colorful images full of daydreams and daring. Sometimes they are even enormous three dimensional, illusion murals that make it look like there are balconies, or garden gateways.
This one was a pop art kind of portrait full of life and color and fanciful imaginings and curly hair full of flowers or sparks, and I commented that I wish cities were covered with these; that the world couldn't help but be a happier more inspired place if people were assaulted by unexpected whimsy, charm and beauty at every turn. I said that I really do believe that art can move and change people -- their hearts, their souls, their very being -- and by changing people, we change the world.
I stared at that image for a long time, wishing I could paint, bemoaning my complete lack of visual ability. I wished I had some artistic talent that could be splashed across brick, cinder block, and wood. I thought about wanting to make people look up and gasp. Smile. Pause. Reflect.
I want to affect.
I want to touch that part of someone that makes them see the familiar, that builds a bridge, that acknowledges the sense of something…more.
And I realized --
That is why I write.
That is why when I write, I strive for nuance, melody, color and mood. I want the person who picks up something I've written and curls into a favorite chair with a single lamp casting a yellow glow over the pages, or a gentle breeze ruffling the corners, to have moments where they catch their breath, wipe a tear, laugh out loud. I want my words to vibrate, resonate, to seep beyond the eyes that read into the very core that feels that eternal intangible sense of them.
Words are visual: scarlet, desolate, inferno.
Words are musical: austere, delicate, tempestuous.
They are both at the same time. And when strung together with attention to rhythm and perception, mood and sensation, I believe their power to transport, transcend, evoke, invoke, become, and transform can rival the most breathtaking of concrete frescoes.
I imagine a world of guerilla paintings invading barren city walls with brilliant splashes of color, filling the world with secret gardens, tiny creatures wound around drain pipes, uninhibited figures dancing with abandon to music that only their two-dimensional figures can hear.
I imagine a world with books tucked in surprising places, tiny notes attached wishing the reader a grand adventure, a soulful reflection, a ray of sun, a dive to depths. Books left in planters, on doorsteps, atop mailboxes, against car windshields and tucked in grocery store flyer stands. A world of undercover transcendence-fairies leaving bits of themselves where the world can find them. Where someone who cannot take another step, or senses a change of season, someone ready to feel their feet leave the ground, or someone who needs to find their footing can look up, look out, and be unexpectedly met with a color, a word, a mood -- a gift -- from one pilgrim to another, and experience a sense of sameness that leaves them wondering: how did they know?
Because a breath, an image, a word -- they can change a person.
And in changing a person, we can change the world.
Wouldn't that be astonishing?