When I was a kid, I never thought twice about how I felt about people as I suspect most kids don’t. I also didn’t question about how I saw others, then I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut and then later as a teenager, I had slowly blocked that part of myself. It wasn’t until my thirties when I realized what I had been doing for so many years and now I’ve learned to open and close those curtains at will. Of course most of the time I keep what most people would attribute to gut feelings about other people accessible, there are times like this where I have to close it off. The reason being is when you are in a crowded enclosed space, the last thing you want to feel is hatred, disgust, annoyance, puppy love, being hungry and joy all at once and compounded. I normally avoid crowds because of this, but one of my dearest friends asked me to come out to this shindig and I couldn’t think of an excuse fast enough.
I have no idea who to avoid and who is safe and that worries me. I also don’t even want to try and look at the crowd to see their true selves because that can draw unwanted attention to those who are even the slightest sensitive. Plus, it can be quite frightening in such a public gathering. So instead I found a seat near the edge of the event where I can keep a respectable distance from the crowd, but close enough so that I can hopefully spot my friend Jack. I look at my phone again to see if maybe I somehow missed his response to my text earlier letting him know I was here and was looking forward to hanging out with him. Of course there is no text, I’m starting to worry and so I wonder to social media to pass time. That only lasts a few minutes as I have repeated this several times in the last half hour. Where is he? He’s never this late and so I decide to wonder around.
It isn’t long before my eyes are drawn to some interesting paintings. I am generally passive about art, but something in these paintings are reaching out to me. I don’t know how to describe it, they are nothing spectacular, well as far as I know, and yet I can’t seem to look away easily. Normally when I come across inanimate objects like this I can place a hand on the object to channel my senses in that hand to find out why the object is unique; but I can’t do that here. Well maybe I can. I take a look around and it seems like everybody else is paying attention to someone or something else. I take a step closer, reach out my hand so I look like I am admiring the brush strokes (this is a thing, I am a people watcher and I ask lots of questions), get my senses opened up in my pointer finger and barely touch the painting. It hits me like an ocean wave. I almost fall, but instead I was able to keep it to a not so graceful stumble backwards. A few people look my way. Some in shock that I might ruin some of the art, some snickering that I almost fell and a few that looked concerned. I smile as I get my feet under me and mentally kick myself in the rump for opening myself up so much knowing how strong the pull was to the painting.
After a few seconds, everybody who turned around to gawk at me seemed to be back to whatever they were doing. I take another look at the painting, this time at a safe distance, to analyze what I felt when I touched it. The painting looks to be a simple country highway road. Two lanes, telephone or power poles on the right, some green grass on either side of the road, a blue sky and some clouds. Yet I felt heart ache, yearning or maybe disappointment? The feelings in that painting are overwhelming and whoever painted it had a truly heavy heart when they created it. Now that I’ve opened myself to that painting, I can sense it from a distance. It was like the artist didn’t want to paint but couldn’t help themselves, they had to paint it. As I look at a neighboring painting, I start to feel joy coming from it. That’s odd. I didn’t touch that painting and the painting on the opposite side of the first one, I am feeling rushed. Like I have to finish, I have to hurry up and I look down to see my phone in my hand. When did I pull it out of my back pocket?
I don’t know what is going on here, but this is not normal . . . okay, for me. This is not normal for me. Whoever painted these paintings must be sensitive in some way to be able to paint their feelings into their art. I wonder, do they even know what they are doing? Can they channel their feelings deliberately? Wait, no way. I doubt they could do it because why choose sadness and being rushed? Joy would be desired, so would confidence or yearning. You would definitely want to stay away from melancholy moods because you want to sell them, or at least I would think they would since they brought the paintings to this public art show. Humm, I wonder. I take a small step forward to look at the identification tags attached to the easel. The tag has the name of the painting and the artist. The highway painting is called “Youth Highway” by Liam Stephan.
“I hope you are not going to try and steal that painting again with all these witnesses.”