One of the things I like most about working on art at the market is being able to mingle and have conversations with thousands of people that walk through there every Saturday and Sunday. It’s a chance to jump into the diversity of life and share my art and my self expression.
Believe it or not, not every conversation I have at the market is about art technique and form, in fact I would say that the majority of conversations I have are about life and relationship. In my opinion art is always an expression of self, whether you are the creator or the observer. Many people when observing my art see something that either relates or contradicts something that they believe about life, this then brings about some of the most interesting dialogs I have ever had.
One intriguing conversation I had recently began after someone saw a pair of my paintings called “Expressions.” These paintings represent faces with slightly different expressions that tell an opposite story to the other.
The person walked up and said “I love this painting, what was your inspiration?” Since I always seem to have difficulty with this question because my inspirations come from so many different places within myself, I responded with a question.
“What do you see when you look at this piece?”
“I see two people who have a good relationship because they understand that the only way to make it work is to compromise” she responded.
This caught me by surprise because I actually believe the opposite of that statement.
“Really, that’s interesting.” I said.
“Why do you think that’s interesting?”
“Well, when I look at this painting I see two people who are not willing to compromise who they are for anyone, and definitely not for each other.”
She looked confused by my statement so I continued to elaborate
“I think a lot of people are just used to thinking that they are supposed to compromise in order to make relationships work because they try to model after terrible examples of relationships. They see people who will give something up about themselves in order to make someone else happy and expect the same in return.”
She looked at the painting for a while and said “But there has to be some kind of compromise, two people just can’t get along with every aspect of the person they’re with.”
I smiled “I used to think that too, but I realized a few years ago that it is easier to find someone who loves you for you and someone you love for who they are than try and change someone into a person.”
“In fact” I continued “I realized that no one can be changed anyhow. No one changes until they are ready to change, and the only way they will be ready to change is if they’ve changed their point of view about themselves, but they will never change for you… Just like you will never truly change for anyone else. You might say you are changing for them but the truth is that if you are changing something about yourself it is always for you, if not it’s more work than it’s worth and you’ll most likely fail.”
She stared at me for what seemed like forever, her eyes were very intense. “So what do you do if someone gets on your nerves when they do or don’t do something constantly?”
“It all depends on what it is. If it is something that is harmful to me, for example if the person is constantly physically or verbally hurting me then I get as far away from them as possible and delete them from my life… My rule of thumb with any type of abuse is that the people around me will always abuse me slightly less than I abuse myself so if I experience any abuse at all in my life and “dealing” with it then I look closely at how I talk and treat myself. “But” I continued “If it’s something silly on my part, like my spouse always leaves the dirty dishes on the table then I have to consider that dishes on the table are a bigger priority to me than to my spouse.”
She held her hand up “Yeah, so they should put the dishes away and make a compromise. If I clean the house then they should at least put the dishes in the sink or pick their clothes off the bathroom floor.”
“I understand” I said “I’m only sharing my opinion, but I notice when I am completely focused on why I think someone else does or doesn’t do something, I usually feel like a victim, a tyrant or a combination of both. In any situation I look at myself, if something is bothering me than it’s up to me to do something about it… If clothes on the bathroom floor bother me for what ever reason I pick it up, if dishes in the sink bother me, I wash them. If the house is dirty and I prefer it clean, I clean it.”
“But, what if you get tired of cleaning after someone else?” She asked.
“I can’t answer that.” I said.
She scowled “Why not?”
“Because I don’t clean up after anyone, if I see something and it bothers me, I clean it… I do not clean for anyone else and I don’t clean after anyone… I simply clean for the sake of keeping myself happy if that’s what it takes at that moment. In fact everything I do is for the sake of making myself happy at that moment.” I smiled “Everything I do and everything I am is me, I never lie because I have nothing to hide from and I never do anything if it makes me feel like a victim, but most importantly I know that if I feel like a victim it’s because I’m looking at something like a victim.”
“Well, I’m not a victim, I just hate cleaning up after him.” She said
“Then don’t do it.” I said.
“If I don’t do it, it will never get done.” She said.
“So let it never get done.” I said.
“But it would just be easier if he cleaned up after himself.” She said.
“Does he care?” I asked.
“No, he would just let the house be dirty.” She said.
“So you want him to change, to make you happy?” I asked.
“Yes, him cleaning up after himself will make me happy.” She said.
“So basically what your saying is that your happiness is based on whether or not he decided to clean up after himself. If he never again cleaned up after himself you would just be miserable for the rest of your life. To me, it seems like you’re putting your happiness in his hands when it would be easier to keep it in your hands.” I said.
“God, it feels that way sometimes.” She sighed.
“So why do you clean it?” I asked.
“Because it bothers me.” She responded.
“But it doesn’t bother him?” I asked.
“No.” She sighed again.
“Then you’re actually cleaning it up for yourself because if it didn’t bother you, you would just leave it and go about your day, but instead you make the choice to clean up because it makes you feel good. This is what I mean when I say that I don’t clean up after anyone or for anyone… I do everything because I feel good doing it. When I wash dishes, I don’t stand there and think about how no one else does dishes because that would make me feel like a victim to everyone else… I just do the dishes and clean up because I feel like doing it, not because I’m expected to and not because no one else will do it, but because I want to… It’s all about perspective.”
“So I should just clean up after my husband and be quiet?” She asked
“Nope, clean because you feel like having a clean house. If you don’t, that’s no big deal either, it’s not like someday you’ll be on your deathbed and think to yourself -man, I wish I had bleached the tub more often. Like I said, if it feels good I do it, if it doesn’t I don’t. When I clean the house, I put on the radio and enjoy the entire process and then bask in the feeling of a clean house… I never think about who else is doing what, I just think about what I’m feeling. If I don’t feel like doing it, I don’t, plain and simple.”
“I get it, you choose how you feel… If I choose to feel good about doing what I do then no one can take that away from me because it’s my choice.” She said with a smile.
“Yup, like the faces in the paintings… the expression you wear and the feelings you have are always a choice no matter what the situation is.” I said.
“That’s awesome! I love that painting! Well it was nice talking to you.” then she walked away.
I smiled and wondered why she didn’t just buy the painting… Interesting.