What Are You Doing?

I’m a great connoisseur of art.

Ha! I love art … I consider myself artistic. But I wouldn’t have the first clue what it means to be a connoisseur. And the thing is, I don’t really care.

To me art is a process of how I see the world. Take for instance my odd passion for seeing faces in things that have no face. Clouds, trees, paint swirls, elevator buttons, billboards, wallpaper, stains, food, doors …

My doctor one time caught me photographing the back side of his office door. I grinned sheepishly and told him it was a thing I did. He blinked a few times and said no more about it. But I saw faces in the wood grains of his door and I thought they were interesting enough to snap a pic.

He thinks I’m a nut job anyway so I didn’t try to explain.

And that’s kind of the point of art. No one should have to explain it. Art is what you see and how you see it. It’s all about perspective.

I’ve seen the Mona Lisa. It’s in a huge room behind barriers with security guards and lots of people staring at it as if it might tell them something they didn’t already know. As if wisdom or wealth or the secrets of the universe might be held within. But really, it’s just a painting of a woman. Nothing fancy. Nothing spectacular. I’ve seen far more stunning painting and photographs and sculptures that have gotten far less attention.

But someone said it was important so now the world thinks it’s important and it has become important. It has security guards and everything after all. Irregardless of the truth that it’s just a painting of a woman with no remarkable anything to it.

Life seems to work that way. Someone says something is important, therefore other people jump on board and think it’s important too. Sometimes they lend their own voice to the shout-out and bring in even more people. Pretty soon half the world thinks whatever has been said or done is important. Irregardless of the truth.

Before long someone else is going to tell us what they think is important, too. And they expect us to jump on board with them as well.

But then a person comes along and says, “Wait. You’re all wrong.” Chaos ensues. Sides are taken. Friends become enemies. Love and hate are invoked. Names are called. Respect goes out the window. Everyone becomes miserable and pouts or shouts or stamps around trying to be louder longer than everyone else.

No one wins.

Life wasn’t meant to be a competition though. It’s not about wining or losing or having the most followers or friends or stuff. Life is like art. Life is what you see that matters to you without worrying about whether someone else looks at you and asks, “What are you doing?” incredulously. Their confusion is not who you are but rather who they are.

All my doctor had to do was ask, “Why are you taking a picture of the door? Is something there?” And I would have shown him what I saw – faces, smiling. They made me smile too.

People often seem to do strange things. Say odd things. Sometimes become offensive to us. Their choices just don’t line up with what we know and respect. But maybe, if we stopped and asked, “What are you doing?” they would tell us and then we might understand them better.

For me, that’s what art is. Understanding something in a new way. Seeing things from a different perspective. Art isn’t about doing what’s popular or conforming to what others think is right or important. It’s a way of viewing life that makes it mean something. It’s a way of finding the hidden goodness everyone has. Like a face in the wood grain of the door …




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