Reflection Points of Beauty in the Bleakness

Graffiti Epiphanies

I experienced a "REVOLUTION" on this spring morning during my daily commute into the Big City. I encountered a woman driving one of the greener (non gas-gusling) vehicles on the highway. As my vehicle neared the back of hers the hand painted letters R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N came into view, and as I moved to pass the woman on the left I noticed that her car was covered in a brilliantly painted abstract with items of nature flowing one into the other. On the driver's side fender the text "Question Everything?" appeared in curvy white letters surrounded in a bright reddish-orange flare of color. As I steered back into the right lane I saw in my rearview mirror a large off-white spiraling flower (on the hood of her car) and on the front bumper a suggestion that "We are all mad here :(". Whether the statement being made was that we are all angry or altogether crazy, I believed it to be an accurate assessment of the drivers that I had met on the roadway each day. Minutes later as traffic slowed in my lane the colorful, flat paint came back into view as the mobile mural passed on my left. Our paths had moved full-circle which presented me the opportunity to behold the other side of this imaginative display of beauty. Words on the back bumper of her car that I had not noticed before disappeared into the distance. "Be Happy ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Be Free". And so the woman continued on to her destination, apart from, but offering influence into my own.

While this vehicle exhibited an act of voluntary vandalism, I realized that I had recently begun to welcome most all graffiti as a means of prompting thought about my personal human experience. I am in NO WAY encouraging you as a reader to deface the property of someone else -your own perhaps. I am simply asking that you not discount these images and messages as eye sores. Within even the vilest of graffiti there is often expressive artwork that longs to be appreciated. There are exceptions!! But I consider transfiguring a cage of metal and glass into a driving-daisy to be an act of compassion for others that remain trapped in the daily grind -a point of beauty capable of influencing the perspectives of others.

"U R All Robots". This was a message spray painted on some construction materials along the very same interstate. A couple years ago a road project was underway; I had also been working on an intensive two-year project and there were times that I felt like a gear in The Big Machine. At the time I would drive into the Big City five days a week and work long hours before my return trip; upon returning home there would be only a few short hours until I would encounter the same scenery again the following morning. Out of the miles-and-miles of familiar highway and construction a fresh message grabbed my attention. I pondered the idea, admired the skill of the artist, and the medium of the image (a stack of concrete roadway dividers) I thought to be a conservative placement for such a deep notion. Questions began to swirl in my head: Am I a robot? Had my culture programmed me to become what it had required me to be? Was the course of my life void of imagination and creativity? Or, in contrast, had I chosen my own unique path guided by my imaginings? In spite of the motivation of the artist behind that red and blue paint, I was driven to consider my perspective and position... rather than being taunted into feeling insignificant.

These "Graffiti Epiphanies" exist all around us. We must open our eyes to receive them. Just a few weeks ago I realized that beauty is most visible when it is viewed against the mundane; six left turns, one right, a vacant space on the right. I typically try and park in a spot just to the left of the numerous lights (which are mounted to the low ceilings in measured intervals). The plastic shrouds that encase each lamp give release to a variable, yellowed ambiance. A yellow-orange glow darkened by the brown circles burnt into each covering where the lights come closest to their shields. The dim manila lighting is a hue I have come to prefer because it is relaxing yet still provides enough light by which to read. A couple pages of a book, a chapter on some days, serves to relax me after the shorter of my commutes. Mondays and Fridays I arrive in the Little City, and am grateful that I do not have to endure the hour and fifteen minute commute (into the Big City) every day of the week. These days offer me a very welcome rest. Staring between the twined metal wires that act as a barrier between the levels of the structure I can see another message written directly in front of me and especially for me... I just have to figure out what it means. W-H-E-N. "WHEN" written in sidewalk chalk inside of a parking garage, just a short walk from my work. The structure is a solemn labyrinth of concrete and steel. When what? Neon-orange block letters (color that has been added to an otherwise dismal and bleak landscape) provoke me to thought.

Today offers us a beautiful opportunity that will never exist again. The way we interpret the messages that sit before us today will not be possible tomorrow... because we are ever-changing. The element of WHEN far too often exists as the smaller part of a larger question, an inquiry that bends us toward the future. WHEN has the power to dissolve the possibility of NOW, but we must not let it.

Bill Hudson   # May 28, 2013

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