2.18.2011

Soul Stories: the artistic soul mate.

It took me a long time to become a person who writes in books. Libraries and school districts don't look kindly on pen marks and anyway, no one ever really told me it was ok. Books were (dare I say) sacred objects. I didn't write in books the same way I didn't try to scrawl on the paintings I saw on the walls of museums.

Then when I was a senior in High School, I got into AP English and we had a long list of books to read over the summer. We had to buy our own books and suddenly Toni Morrison and Machiavelli were on my bookshelf, part of my belongings. I think we did a little writing in books back then, but it really wasn't until freshman year of college when people encouraged me to interact with the text in front of me. Instead of passively reading, I was in a conversation with the author- circling phrases and scrawling page numbers in the margins when I found themes that ran through chapters and beyond.

One of the most beautiful experiences in life is encountering a piece of art that IS you. There were occasions when I ran into a sentence that felt as though it had been lifted from the deepest part of myself and printed on the page. Sentences like that feel like fate.

It's probably not a stretch to say that I reach for these connections with Art when I need to feel that others have felt as I do. It doesn't trivialize my feelings, but rather it reassures me that others have gone through life before me and have come out victorious.

This is, in so many ways, why I write. I write to connect, to suggest, to demonstrate, to start a conversation. There is power in describing life moments and knowing that they resonate with others. Writing is the bridge that allows open souls to converge; in short, Art creates soul mates.

And so among my soul mates I count books and paintings and photographs and songs. I've read Eat, Pray, Love dozens of times; my copy of The Lover is so marked up that it looks as though a child put his markers to it. Dashboard Confessional's lyrics never fail to produce the irresistible urge to sing from my gut. The photo in this post is so sad and so moving and so true that I've hung it on my wall for years. (The text beneath says: "This photograph is my proof. There was that afternoon when things were still good between us, and she embraced me and we were so happy. It did happen. She did love me. Look, see for yourself!")

What and who are your artistic soul mates?

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