This morning, I stood in my doctor’s office, awaiting my name to be called. For once, I was content as I sat idle; I was studying the most fascinating painting. I couldn’t make out the artist’s name, but admittedly, didn’t try too hard.
It was the colors. They were…arresting.
The bold terra cotta strokes spoke a high fortress wall to me and splashes of red enlivened the foreground, suggesting wildflowers growing haphazardly. It tickled me to think that perhaps my state of mind led me to this interpretation. How often do we feel hemmed in by our place of treatment?
It was beautiful.
And for a brief moment, I forgot the anxiety of the procedure I was about to undergo.
I’m sure some thought went in to picking that print. Someone perhaps agonized how it would look with these boring chairs in this waiting room–compared it to others viewed favorably. I know the thing was purchased by someone. But here it was, costing me not a thing…and gifting me with so much.
We can’t put a price on beauty.
This is what Lewis Hyde seems to be saying in our book study of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.
Yet, the dilemma arises: how will the artist survive if he doesn’t enter the market society? And in doing so, how does he preserve the gift nature of his art?
Hyde offers some suggestions: a patron, an agent, a secondary job…
He finally concludes, “…the artist who sells his own creations must develop a more subjective feel for the two economies and his own rituals for both keeping them apart and bringing them together.”
In the end, it’s up to the artist to preserve the integrity of his work. We are all susceptible to seduction by the market–whether we are talking about painting or blogging. It is very tempting to get caught up in giving people what they want.
When I stand before a painting that tells a story to my heart, when I read a piece of writing that touches deep inside…I receive a gift of immeasurable portion.
The creator gives me part of himself.
This happens whether the piece of art is part of the market society or not…it still touches, it breathes beauty into lives.
Perhaps this is what Pablo Neruda means when he offers this quote, which Hyde gives us:
“I have been a lucky man. To feel the intimacy of brothers is a marvelous thing in life. To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those whom we do not know, from those unknown to us, who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weaknesses—that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens out the boundaries of our being, and unites all living things…”
It’s not a gift until we give it away, Beloveds. The beauty of the gift always returns.